As Iraqi government troops fell back in the face of advancing allied troops and Kurdish peshmerga fighters, returning along with civilian refugees from the Turkish and Iranian borders, it became evident that Baghdad's long-standing ban on access to the Kurdish region by independent investigators had been broken -- by force majeure.
How long the window of opportunity would stay open no one could predict. For the Iraqi Kurds, their future as an often-threatened minority as well as their lives are at risk.
For Middle East Watch, a driving consideration over the past two years has been whether time would permit adequate research to be conducted to obtain reliable information that could both convince international public opinion and, later, satisfy a court of law.
Although interim reports have previously been released about the Anfal1, with thepublication of this book, the first objective has been accomplished.
The Kurds bear arms as a matter of course, and have regularly resorted to them when thwarted in their demands for greater political and cultural autonomy.