Thirty years ago, accidents of history sparked Kurdistani revolution from 5 March against Iraq’s genocidal dictator Saddam Hussein whose bloody vengeance sent millions of Kurdistanis into the freezing mountains. The Kurdistani plight inspired a ferment of public horror and quick-witted Kurdistani lobbying that found new British Prime Minister John Major on his moral mettle in a frantic month of activity to avert disaster.
To his eternal credit, John Major defied foreign policy orthodoxies to save the Iraqi Kurdistanis from further genocide. He cannily improvised innovative action and persuaded an initially reluctant American President and (therefore) a keener French President to join the UK in an operation that lasted 12 years.
The safe haven and no-fly zone he pioneered enabled Iraqi Kurdistanis to survive and become a continuing force for good in the Middle East. We should remember what happened because Iraqi Kurdistanis may require such action again.
This short history of a few frantic weeks of suffering and action in March/April 1991 provides a snapshot of the key moments in an historic decision.