Revenge of the Kurds

Buoyed by election success, an Iraqi minority aims to expand its influence. Could it fracture the country?

Jalal Talabani knows what it's like to be a marked man. In 1989, after Saddam Hussein's army had ravaged the Kurdish population of northern Iraq with chemical weapons, the dictator offered amnesty to all Kurdish soldiers who fought against him--except one. Saddam ordered his minions to hunt down Talabani, a chief of the Kurdish separatist guerrillas known as the peshmerga. If Talabani was caught, Saddam vowed, he would put him to death.

It's a testament to Talabani's knack for survival that he not only managed to elude Saddam's forces but also is now poised to assume the job of his former...

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