Middle East: A Land of Stones

Remember the Kurds? After a moment in the spotlight, Iraq's forgotten people cling to fragile autonomy in a home laid waste by Saddam

Across the rugged mountains and valleys of northern Iraq, the rubble is coming to life. Almost 2,000 Kurdish villages that Saddam Hussein's forces systematically dynamited and bulldozed are inhabited again. Tents and lean-tos dot the snowy slopes, shattered walls support makeshift plastic roofs, and open-air bazaars are conducting a brisk business in food, fuel and clothing. Many of the villages' new residents are doing their best to rebuild amid desperate hardship and the harshest winter in 40 years.

Tenuous and temporary as their grip may be, the Kurds of Iraq have come tantalizingly close to something like their centuries-old dream: a...