By William Carter

Photographer, Author, Jazz Musician

Iraqi Kurdistan: More Surprises (Part 2)

with 7 comments


In this part we focus, in black and white, on the villagers and shepherds living in the mountains of northern Iraq in 1965.

For background text, please see the previous blog (part 1).

Iraqi Kurdistan 1965 photographs © William Carter

1.

1.

IKMS2.2

2.

IKMS2.3

3.

IKMS2.4

4.

IKMS2.5

5.

IKMS2.6

6.

IKMS2.7

7.

IKMS2.8

8. I think this is the town of Halabja, later victim of a horrible gas attack by Saddam Hussein.

Written by bywilliamcarter

September 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Posts

Tagged with , , , ,

Reliable Friends; Tough Territory

with 3 comments


Mullah Mustafa Barzani

1. Mullah Mustafa Barzani

In this resumption of my series on the Kurds of northern Iraq, we celebrate — in black and white — their famous 20th century political and military leader: Mullah Mustafa Barzani. Today, his descendants in Erbil and Baghdad carry on their people’s long push for autonomy.

It is hard for Americans to appreciate the depth and tenacity of this struggle. Following the centuries-long dissolution of the Ottoman empire, dozens of tribal and linguistic groups still struggle to survive the shifting sands of Middle Eastern politics. It remains a tough neighborhood. And Mullah Mustafa’s toughness is evident in these pictures.

Democratic ideals projected through a Western lens can go only so far in this region — something well worth admitting now, amid the shifting sands of power politics. Memories of Beirut in the 1970s remind us of the temporary nature of all alliances within and among a myriad of subgroups and special or outside interests. Deeply rooted habits of splintering, betrayal, and infighting survive every “boots on the ground” intervention.

The Kurds remain staunch friends of the U.S. They have major petroleum reserves. The Americans have been blocking the Kurds from selling their oil directly on the international market. However, instead of clinging to the unworkable fantasy of rebuilding a tripartite, failed state of Iraq, the Americans should encourage these proud mountain people to make whatever “declaration of independence” they feel they can handle — supported by oil sales.

In a time of softening frontiers, ethnic affinity between the Iraqi Kurds and those in Turkey and Syria raise questions — and opportunities. Last summer, a retired CIA Director whispered to me that certain of America’s close friends in the region would applaud a Kurdish diversification of the sourcing and supply of Middle Eastern petroleum on world markets.

————————————

Iraqi Kurdistan 1965: photographs © William Carter

 

IKMS3.2

2.

IKMS3.3

3.

IKMS3.4

4.

IKMS3.5

5.

IKMS3.6

6.

7.

Written by bywilliamcarter

August 23, 2014 at 12:22 am

Those Teens Part 7

with 2 comments


With the present series of posts. I bring together photographs made from 1958 to 2014 — 56 years — highlighting teenagers from cultures worldwide. Where it is sometimes not obvious if someone is technically a teen, or a bit younger or older, I have opted to be inclusive.

Wide differences of time and place, class and society are obvious in this series. More and more, though, my way of seeing has been to look past the external differences — toward the humanity, the soul that unites.

ateens7.1jpgEngland, c. 1967

teens7.2Iraq, c. 1965

teens7.3California, c. 1960

teens7.4Illinois, c. 1973

teens7.5California, c. 1974

teens7.6Yemen, c. 1964

teens7.7Tibet, c. 1992

Written by bywilliamcarter

August 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Those Teens Part 6

with one comment


With the present series of posts. I bring together photographs made from 1958 to 2014 — 56 years — highlighting teenagers from cultures worldwide. Where it is sometimes not obvious if someone is technically a teen, or a bit younger or older, I have opted to be inclusive.

Wide differences of time and place, class and society are obvious in this series. More and more, though, my way of seeing has been to look past the external differences — toward the humanity, the soul that unites.

teens6.1Virginia, c. 2010

teens6.2Virginia, c. 2011

teens6.3Illinois, c. 1972

teens6.4Illinois, c. 1972

teens6.5Illinois, c. 1972

teens6.6England, c. 1964

teens6.7England, c. 1964

teens6.8Yemen, c. 1964

Written by bywilliamcarter

August 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Those Teens Part 5

leave a comment »


With the present series of posts. I bring together photographs made from 1958 to 2014 — 56 years — highlighting teenagers from cultures worldwide. Where it is sometimes not obvious if someone is technically a teen, or a bit younger or older, I have opted to be inclusive.

Wide differences of time and place, class and society are obvious in this series. More and more, though, my way of seeing has been to look past the external differences — toward the humanity, the soul that unites.

teens5.1Iraq, c. 1965

teens5.2Iraq, c. 1965

teens5.3Indiana, c. 1972

teens5.4Kansas, c. 1971

teens5.5England, c. 1967

teens5.6England, c. 1967

Written by bywilliamcarter

July 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

More on the Iraqi Kurds

with 5 comments


Barzani’s Legacy Persists

 

Because 2014 may be a decisive year for the Iraqi Kurds, a flood of enthusiastic responses poured in from my recent blog which featured photos of their legendary leader, Mullah Mustafa Barzani, and other memories of my trip through their beautiful homeland.

Here, then, are more of those Kodachrome slides shot with my Leicas on assignment from LIFE in 1965.

Photographs © William Carter

Barzani-096

1. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, spring 1965

Barzani,-093

2. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, spring 1965

peshmergas-+-mtn137

3. Kurdish Peshmergas en route

lineup085

4. I hiked for two weeks with these tough survivors

rooftop-break079

5. Hospitality in a local village

sheik-140

6. A local sheik dressed accordingly

girlbundle124

7. The girls were no slouches, either

girl-singing024

8. Proudly singing traditional songs in the Kurdish language

peaceable-land068

9. Peaceable Kurdistan lacks a seaport but has oil which the U.S. currently blocks the world from buying

Written by bywilliamcarter

July 9, 2014 at 3:11 am

“All That is Ours!”

with 11 comments


Barzani-gesture

IRAQ, 1965: Mullah Mustafa Barzani, historic leader of Kurdish pesh merga resistance fighters, gestures toward the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Forty-nine years later, has the Kurds’ historic longing for full independence finally become a reality?

By William Carter

In a top-secret mountain setting — he moved continuously because the Baghdad government had placed a huge bounty on his head — Mullah Mustafa Barzani had granted me an extraordinary interview because I was on assignment from the then-influential magazine, LIFE.  Speaking Kurdish through a translator, he recited highlights of his proud people’s long history of partition and betrayal, and obliquely thanked the US for the diplomatic and tangible support the Americans were already supplying covertly via their then-ally, Iran.  I myself had been smuggled in from the Shah’s kingdom, dressed as a Kurdish nomad and crossing the river frontier on a donkey after midnight.

After the interview and photographs I resumed my weeks-long journey by foot on donkey westward through the spectacular mountain landscape, dotted with spring wildflowers and hospitable tiny villages.  My guide was one of Barzani’s commanders, Colonel Akrawi, who spoke excellent English and who, when he was not conducting raids on Iraqi police stations, was collecting plant specimens for a book he was writing on Kurdish botany.  After a miserable night in a canyon village being shelled by the Iraqis, we arrived, one late afternoon, at a spectacular clearing and lookout point.

Below us, to the west, strings of lights outlining the Kirkuk oil fields were beginning to wink on; beyond lay the relatively large city of Kirkuk itself.

With a wide, proud sweep of his arm, the personable Colonel Akrawi said softly but very firmly, “All that is ours.”

This spring of 2014 my wife and I were invited to travel to the modern city of Erbil, Kurdistan as honored guests to meet Massoud Barzani, Mullah Mustafa’s son, who, with other Kurds, had, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, occupied high posts in the Baghdad regime. (I believe I photographed him as a child 49 years ago.) At 80, We declined the offer, partly because of kidnapping worries. Just as well we weren’t there last week when the ISIS Islamic fundamentalists came marauding through northwestern Iraq — although I would have had my camera ready!

Now may be a pivotal moment for the Kurds.  With their extraordinary bravery, organization, newly won oil income and fierce in-group identity vis-a-vis Arab domination, they may emerge as the only winners amid the long-drawn-out failure of the artificially conceived, ethnically impossible, divide-and-rule “state” concocted by colonialists drawing ruler lines across maps in London and Paris a century ago.

The new threat — and old spirit — were summed up by the head of Kirkuk’s regional police force: as reported by Joe Parkinson in The Wall Street Journal on June 20, 2014: “I’m from Kirkuk and I’m ready to die to protect it.”

Kodachrome photographs June, 1965 © William Carter

Barzani-closeup

Mullah Mustafa Barzani, 1965

 

shooters-on-ridge

Peshmergas in the cliffs above Kirkuk

 

GMC-Kurds

Same guys with a little sponsorship from (then) U.S. friends in Iran

 

rocket-launcher

Modern weaponry in support of tribal traditions — what else is new?

 

kurd-woman-+-mtn

Norther Iraq is not a desert, and the Kurds are not Arabs

 

kurds+moon2

Peshmergas at dusk: is the moon finally
rising over Kurdish independence?

 

Akrawi-closeup

Colonel Akrawi had been trained at Sandhurst, England. He was my guide and companion for 3 weeks. Years later I heard he had been wounded and eventually died in Switzerland. But what ever happened to the book Akrawi was writing on Kurdish botany, as our platoon
hiked through scenes like that below?

 

Kurd-wildflowers

Written by bywilliamcarter

June 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,661 other followers

%d bloggers like this: