Suleimaniya is the most liberal city in Iraqi Kurdistan, partly because of its long-standing and deep ties to nearby Iran, one of the most culturally liberal countries in the Middle East. The Iraqi Kurds I met who have been to Iran wanted me to know – and they want you to know, as well – that the distance between the Iranian people and their hideous regime is galactic. I heard the same refrain over and over again: “Persians are just like us.” In other words, they are liberal, secular, pro-Western, and fed up with tyrants. “Iranians love America,” the Kurds told me. “They have nothing to do with Ahmadinejad.”Totten goes on to visit the museum and also links this column by Chibli Mallat in The Daily Star,
In the past two years, the "Iraqi earthquake" (to quote Lebanese columnist Jihad al-Zein) occasioned by the collapse of the most dictatorial system in the Arab world is slowly confirming a new era in the region, where the forces of democracy are emerging as the dominant ideological model in each and every Arab country. With fits and starts the system is shaking, within Iraq itself, then in Palestine, now in Lebanon and Egypt.
The Arab nationalism that has prevailed since the Nasser revolution is increasingly being dubbed "black Arabism" by those of us who do not want to abandon a yearning for closer integration between societies separated by arguably artificial colonial borders. Black Arabism, in this perception, is characteristically fascist, and is epitomized by the former Baath system in Iraq and the present one in Syria. Against it we propose "White Arabism," which harks back to such figures as Saad Zaghlul in Egypt, Kamel Chadirchi in Iraq and Kamal Jumblatt in Lebanon. At the core of the message is the need for democratic, non-violent change at the top in the Middle East, with Arabism read as a liberal call that unifies people irrespective of their religion or sect: in Egypt Copts and Muslims; in Lebanon the various communities that form the country; in Iraq Shiites, Sunnis and non-Muslim sects.