A team of four CPTers including Anita David (Chicago, IL), Peggy Gish (Athens, OH), Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN), and Michele Naar-Obed (Duluth, MN) will travel to the north of Iraq in late October 2007.
In late January 2007, CPTers Peggy Gish and Will VanWagenen, along with two Iraqi associates, were abducted briefly just outside the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) area in Northern Iraq, and then released unharmed.
By late February, the Iraq team returned home for personal and collective healing as well as intensive discernment about next steps for CPT’s violence-reduction presence there.
Iraqi Kurdistan is a tightly-controlled state at the eye of a huge international storm with threats and violence on all its borders – central Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. The Syrian Kurdish border has reportedly been a continuing entry point for Al-Qaeda fighters. Violence is growing rapidly along the western border with central Iraq (Sinjar, Mosul, Kirkuk). Iran has recently shelled the eastern border and Turkish troops have made incursions from the north.
Based in the town of Suleimaniya, team members will focus on three main areas of work: 1) the U.S. occupation; 2) potential violence against Internally Displaced Persons; and 3) violence on the borders.
Although Kurdistan is surrounded by regional tensions, it has not yet descended into the chaos that prevails further south. The KRG area still appears to be accessible and presents an important opportunity for peacemaking work in a highly-conflicted region.