May 6, 1991 , UNITED STATES EDITION
A Nation in the Valley of the Three Frontiers
BYLINE: CHRISTOPHER DICKEY in Zakhu
SECTION: INTERNATIONAL; Pg. 41
LENGTH: 911 words
HIGHLIGHT: Creating a 'mini-Kurdistan' by default, not design
Hell continues in the mountain camps of Kurdish refugees. At Isikveren, Rahim Safar picks his way through the fresh graves of children to speak to a visitor. Dozens still die there every night. "The Kurdish people need to live life safe," implores the 31-year-old engineer. It's a basic hope, and behind it lies an ancient dream: the nation of Kurdistan. But such a place has never existed, and likely never will. There is no nation. There is only a Kurdish people and the land where they've always lived: a maze of boundaries. "A lot of people agree that the current borders are stupid," says an American diplomat who studies the Kurds. "But nobody is going to change them."
If the government of the area were democracies, if they supported human rights and respected Kurdish culture, the Kurds themselves might feel no need for their own country. But in the real world, on any given day, the side of the line on which a Kurd was born can make the difference between living or dying. Last month's unprecedented exodus of 1.5 million from Iraq sprang from their panicked conviction that to remain within Baghdad's reach would be to invite extinction. "Saddam," says Abdel Karim Osmat, son of a Kurdish clan leader, "represents the nightmare of the Kurds." But he is only one of many.