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Fleeing Saddam With The Kurds 2
- Mar 27, 2018 -

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I was full of trepidation. How much of what I had experienced would be there on the tapes?The answer was, a great deal. Many 

interviews with Barzani and Talabani as the story unfolded, and with another Kurdish leader, Sami Abdul Rahman, whose elderly 

father died as the family fled from Dohuk. A larger-than-life actor called Hama Ali, who the last time I saw him in the mountains, 

had lost his own wife and children in the chaos of the mass flight. Many other voices and commentaries that brought it all 

flooding back.To bring the story up to date, I went back to Kurdistan a quarter of a century later to see what had happened to 

some of the characters.

Jalal Talabani, of course, succeeded his adversary Saddam Hussein as president of all Iraq. He's now sadly handicapped after 

suffering a severe stroke some years ago. Masoud Barzani became president of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, and 

still is.Sami Abdul Rahman, the other leader, was killed along with one of his sons by a suicide bomb attack in 2004. His name is 

immortalised on a huge public park in Erbil, and I interviewed his son Sirwan there.

 

Hama Ali, the ebullient actor, I tracked down in Sulaymaniyah. He did find his family, and the two-month-old daughter he was so 

worried about is now married and about to produce his first grandchild.

But I wasn't able to find out two things. There was a badly-wounded Iraqi soldier who'd clung to life for two days among dead 

comrades on the battlefield and had the same deathly pallor as them. The Peshmerga put him in a car and sent him back to the 

government side. Did he survive?And up in the mountains, there was a little boy, about eight, clutching a tiny suitcase 

containing all the possessions he had left. He'd lost his family during the exodus. What became of him?

These are things I'll never know.

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