Saturday, August 13, 2005

*Iraq's draft constitution expected Sunday

BAGHDAD, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Al-Askari added it was also decided that the fate of the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk will be determined by Dec. 15. The Kurds are trying to include Kirkuk in the Kurdistan autonomous region, while the Arabs and Turkmen are seeking to keep it part of Iraq and not allow any one sect to control it. The Turkmen are another one of Iraq's ethnic minorities.

Civil War In Iraq, Made In the USA

By AK Gupta
In the North, the Kurds have turned the tables on Sunni Arabs, who benefited from Saddam Hussein's repression of the Kurds. The effect can be seen in the largely Sunni Arab city of Mosul, with a population of 1.7 million. According to, Kurdish forces refer to Sunni Arabs as "murderous dogs, two-faced liars, animals and other epithets that indicate hatred of a group clearly regarded as an enemy." The same report estimates that more than 40,000 Peshmerga have been transferred wholesale into the national security services.
The Kurds are even running their own network of secret prisons, according to the Washington Post. With the knowledge and cooperation of U.S. forces, the Kurds have seized hundreds of Arabs and Turkmen in the city of Kirkuk, and possibly Mosul, and illegally transferred them to prisons further north.


By Georgie Anne Geyer
Fri Aug 12, 6:21 PM ET
Today, Kirkuk, with its 850,000 people, like all of Iraq has supposedly been "liberated" by the American invasion. Has wealthy Kirkuk found its place in the sun? When the congressionally mandated U.S. Institute of Peace held a seminar this week on "Kirkuk: Can It Be Solved?" I sat in on the discussion, and soon enough, all the same nagging questions were posed.
"Is it to be the next capital of Kurdistan?" Judith Yaphe, senior fellow at the National Defense University, asked. "Is it the key to the Baghdad government, or a Gordian knot that they will have to untie? Whose city is it? Whose historic claims have more legitimacy? What if the Kurds expand to take Kirkuk? How do you buy civil peace -- with money, with ethnic cleansing, with sharing resources? How do we get beyond those issues to truth and reconciliation?"

Bones of contention on Iraq constitution

12 Aug 2005
13:26:41 GMTSource: Reuters
......KIRKUK - Since Iraqi Kurdistan is already an autonomous region, the drafting committee is faced with deciding where the borders of its three provinces are and what proportion of their revenues can be retained for local use without passing through the central government in Baghdad.
The north oil city of Kirkuk, just outside present-day Kurdistan, is an emotive issue because the Kurds consider it their ancestral capital and resent the forced settlement of Arabs during Saddam Hussein's rule. Arabs say it is an Arab city and Turkish-speaking ethnic Turkmen say it is by rights theirs.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

listen conferance Kirkuk:Can It Be Solved?

US Institute of Peace
Iraq Working Group
In the aftermath of the Iraq war, new stressors were unleashed. Manifested in four broad categories – people, oil, free market dynamics, and security – they require careful management to ensure Kirkuk and likely the rest of Iraq doesn’t fracture along several different seams. There are many questions surrounding this management:
How does one deal with the challenges of adjudicating claims, reconciling old disputes and building a foundation for the future cooperation of Kirkuk’s various ethnic groups?
What kind of role will Kirkuk's oil reserves play in Iraq's economic future?
How will the unleashing of free market dynamics in Iraq affect Kirkuk?
How will security threats inhibit the movement of Iraqis through the region, the resurrection of the oil industry and the success of any economic investment?
Wayne KelleyManaging Director, RSK [UK] Limited
Ali N. SalhiChairman, Free Officers MovementChairman, Kirkuk's Economical Development
Judith YapheSenior Fellow, Institute for National Strategic StudiesNational Defense University
Daniel SerwerModerator, Vice President and Director, Peace and Stability Operations, U.S. Institute of Peace
Related Resources
Focus on IraqInstitute resources on Iraq.
Turkey and Iraq: The Perils (and Prospects) of ProximityA Special Report from the Iraq and Its Neighbors series.
Iraq Web LinksResources and links from the Library's Digital Collection.
Kirkuk: A Potential Iraq Hot Spot Needs U.S. Attention NowInstitute Newsbyte
Avoiding Violence in Kirkuk Requires Settling Property Disputes QuicklyInstitute Newsbyte

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A City With 3 Chips on Its Shoulder

August 10, 2005 KIRKUK, Iraq
The fate of this hard-bitten northern city of roughly a million people was supposed to remain in the balance until after Iraq's politicians had finished polishing the elegant phrases in the nation's constitution. Instead, Kirkuk has thrust its ungainly mix of money, power and ethnic rivalry into the negotiations over Iraq's future as a democracy.
Iraq was supposed to ratify its constitution before settling disagreements among the Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs in Kirkuk, according to decrees handed down when the American occupation ran the Iraqi government. Those decrees still have the force of law, but Kirkuk and those who claim it are refusing to wait.
"We want our main demands included in the constitution," said Mahmood Othman, a Kurdish independent on the committee writing the document. If the disputes cannot be ironed out, he said, "we'd prefer to delay the whole constitution."
Kurds want the city and its oil riches to be the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkmens insist that they have historical rights to Kirkuk and a majority in the central city. And many of the Arab families that Saddam Hussein forcibly moved here during his "Arabization" program - often after taking homes from people in the first two groups - believe that they should have a substantial political voice and be allowed to remain.
Mr. Othman and other Kurdish leaders are demanding timetables for the return of Kurds to Kirkuk and a decision on whether it will be a part of Kurdistan. The Kurds also want a formula for sharing revenues from the extensive oil deposits around the city and a census they believe will show that they, not the Turkmens, hold a majority.
In this city that many see as a potential flash point for a wider conflict, the Kurdish demands are more than matched by the opposition.
"We are encouraging our people to claim their rights peacefully," said Ali Mehdi, a local Turkmen leader. But if talks with the Kurds break down, Mr. Mehdi said, "that will be the beginning of the civil war."
Arab grievances are just as sharp. And unfortunately for anyone who would like to see a rainbow coalition of ethnic groups rule Kirkuk in harmony, the local Kurds see any such arrangement as pointlessly complex.
"Those people who consider Kirkuk a complicated city are the ignorant people of history," said Rizgar Ali Hamazan, a Kurd on the Kurd-dominated Kirkuk Brotherhood list, which won 26 of 41 seats on the local provincial council in January elections.
As with so much else in Iraq, the conflicting views on Kirkuk are rooted in conflicting readings of the same history. A Turkmen garrison town during the Ottoman Empire, Kirkuk was dominated by that ethnic group until after World War II, said Joost R. Hiltermann, Middle East project director for the International Crisis Group, who has done extensive human rights work in northern Iraq.
Ayub Unus Ali, 73, a Turkmen who worked in the oil industry, said the city was much more homogeneous in his youth. "Frankly, there was just Turkmens," Mr. Ali recalled, though he also remembered scattered Arab tribesmen.
Reminiscences like that are not welcomed by many Kurds, who now claim Kirkuk as an ancestral capital. Still, the oil industry did draw people from Kurdish villages around the city, and the Turkmens had only a slight majority by 1957, Mr. Hiltermann said.
The Kurdish presence continued to grow in the 1960's, and although the Arabization programs reversed some of the trend, thousands of Kurds have returned, many of them to shantytowns around the edge of Kirkuk as they wait for their property cases to be resolved. Now, Mr. Hiltermann believes, the best measure of the ethnic mix in Kirkuk is the elections held in January, which indicated a clear Kurdish majority.
"Turkmens have a completely inflated sense of their own size," Mr. Hiltermann said.
This spring, the Brotherhood List carried out a power grab after negotiations with the Turkmens and Arabs on forming a joint government broke down, using the Kurdish majority to secure nearly every top administrative post in the local government.
The move set off demonstrations among the Turkmen and Arab populace. Not until Aug. 1, after interventions by American officials, did the Kurds finally agree to give more council seats to the Arabs and Turkmens.
But the agreement remains to be carried out, and just two days after it was struck, the American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, set off a new round of anger, this time among the Kurds. During a visit to Kirkuk, Mr. Khalilzad said that he would not support the deportation of Arabs whose families were relocated under Mr. Hussein's program, prompting Kurds to claim that he was helping to marginalize them.
Not everyone sees Kirkuk as worrisome. Brig. Gen. Alan Gayhart of the 116th Brigade Combat Team acknowledged the American involvement in the negotiations but said that all the agreements had been made freely by the Iraqis.
"We have been like a manager, or a guy in the corner in a boxing match," General Gayhart said. He added that the ethnic tensions "are predominantly between the political groups" rather than ordinary citizens.
Still, in interview after interview, those citizens bitterly complain that they find it difficult to win jobs from ethnic groups beyond their own.
It is unclear how far the Kurdish demands for timetables and a census go beyond the current law, which states that a permanent resolution on the city's status should wait until after the constitution is ratified and property claims stemming from Mr. Hussein's Arabization program are settled.
But members of the constitutional committee are considering formulas for sharing the oil wealth from provinces, like the one surrounding Kirkuk.
"Part of it will go to the federal government and part to the governorate which produced the resource," said Thamir Ghadban, a member of the committee who is a former oil minister.
But Mr. Hamazan, the Kurdish official, made it plain with an analogy that the Kurdish claim on Kirkuk goes beyond oil. "One day the oil of Texas will run out," Mr. Hamadan said.
"And then the Americans will not love Texas?" he said, driving home his point with a bit of sarcasm: "They will give it to another country."
Dexter Filkins contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article, and an employee of The New York Times from Kirkuk.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Constitution: Pivotal Negotiations Geopolitical Diary
The pivot in Iraq is now the negotiations concerning the new constitution. The negotiations are incredibly complex -- not only because they involve four-way talks including Shia, Sunnis, Kurds and (political fictions aside) the United States, but also because the negotiations are taking place within Iraq's three ethnic communities. The Shia are dealing with Muqtada al-Sadr, who indicated to Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari that he would not oppose a constitution. The Kurds are holding discussions internally, which has delayed a crucial meeting of the constitutional committee by two days. And the Sunnis remain divided along the primordial fault line of Iraq: between those who want a political compromise and those who want to continue fighting against the Americans, as well as all the complex divisions within each camp. With the Aug. 15 deadline for a constitutional draft still in place, the negotiators have one week to come up with a solution. That by itself is not troubling. Many negotiations don't come together until the last minute, with each side trying to extract last-minute concessions by appearing to be prepared to walk away from the table. What is troubling is the basic character of the dispute: No one seems quite able to decide the fundamental character of the Iraqi state. The core issue is federalism. The Kurds are absolutely insisting on a federal state that would allow each community -- particularly the Kurds, naturally -- to maintain a great deal of autonomy. According to Jaafari, Iraqi Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has indicated that he could live with a federal regime. The Sunnis, however, rejected this idea. According to Kamal Hamdan, a Sunni representative on the committee, "The proposal rejects federalism at the present time because it is difficult to implement when the country is occupied and the security situation is unstable." It seems strange that the minority Sunnis, who should be interested in protecting their rights from the Shia, are rejecting federalism. One explanation may be psychological. Having been on top for so long, they genuinely expect to return to control of an Iraqi government, and expecting that, reject federalism. There is, however, a deeper issue: Kirkuk. The city is the center of the petroleum industry in the north. Whoever controls that controls a fortune in revenue. Under the federal system being discussed, Kirkuk would go to the Kurds. The Sunnis want to control Kirkuk and if they can't, they at least want a compromise on the oil industry. The danger is this: If the Kurds and the Sunnis can't compromise on Kirkuk, the entire negotiation breaks down. The Shia, who are the ones who really shouldn't favor federalism, have benignly accepted the principle. They may have done so knowing that the discussion of federalism will break down over Kirkuk anyway. If that happens, they can claim to the Americans that it was the United States' hard-core allies, the Kurds, who torpedoed the constitution and that it is now time to let the Shia handle matters their own way. The Shia may be figuring that the United States is so tired of the war it might just let them take charge. It is now Washington's move. The United States wants a federal government in Iraq. That is all that the administration promised the Kurds, and it wants to deliver on it. The Sunnis are not objecting to federalism but to the way the lines of the federal system would divide up oil revenue. This can be negotiated. The United States has enough clout with the Kurds to negotiate an economic package, and the Kurds really do want autonomy. The United States can bridge this. At that point, the Shia will have to make their move. True federalism precludes an Iranian-style Islamic state. The Shia would run their own affairs and have a commanding position in foreign policy. The alternative is attempting direct rule over hostile Kurds and Sunnis. Our guess is that there will be an agreement even if the deadline has to be breached. The jihadist offensive is therefore intensifying, and we are likely moving into one of the most violent weeks of the guerrilla war. The tip-off that the talks are succeeding will come when the jihadists launch a wave of attacks against the Sunni leadership in a last-ditch attempt to warn it off. This will be a pivotal week -- or weeks, if there is an extension of the deadline -- in the guerrilla war.
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Monday, August 08, 2005

Kurds Vow to Make No Concessions in Iraq Political Talks

.........The bloc has also called for the constitution to guarantee the quick repatriation of Kurds deported from Kirkuk by Saddam Hussein, and after that, a vote in Kirkuk on who should govern the city. On Saturday, witnesses said, Kirkuk officials distributed parcels of land to returning Kurdish families despite the objections of Turkmen who said the land had been confiscated from them by Mr. Hussein's government. Local government officials declined to comment on the Turkmen claims. The constitutional committee has an Aug. 15 deadline to present a draft to the National Assembly, and a national referendum on the draft is set for mid-October.

Constitutional Committee Discussed Postponing the Federation until after the Coming Elections

.....Within the same context, Abbas Al Bayati, representatives of the Turkmen in the Iraqi National Assembly (Parliament) said, "This week would witness the announcement for the readiness of the new constitution draft, after the return of the Arab Sunni members for powerful participation in the constitutional process."Al Bayati pointed out, "Our demands are specified in three fundamental matters. First, the Turkmen should be regarded as a basic nationalism in Iraq, or as a third nationalism. One of these two points should be stated in the constitution. The second issue is that in case the Arabic and Kurdish languages are approved as official languages, the Turkmani language should be considered as an official language in the regions of Turkmani majority, which extend from Tala'far to the city of Mandeli. As for the third issue, which is significant for us, it is relating to the city of Kirkuk, as according to Article 58 of the Iraqi state administration code, there is a road map. According to the rod map, deciding on the destiny of this city is the competence of its residents of Arabs, Turkmen, Kurds and Assyrians."Al Bayati noted that the city of Kirkuk "Can not be connected with any federation, against the will of its residents of various races. One of our demands is that Kirkuk becomes a separate state or region and is run by the residents of this city through understanding and mutual dialogue, so as to crystallize a form for administering this city. We have clarified these fundamental demands to the Arab Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish brothers, and informed them that these three demands are very crucial for the Turkmen."
Al Sharq Al Awsat

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Iraqi Leaders Come to Baghdad for Federalism Discussion

By Cetiner Cetin, Cihan News Agency
Iraqi Community Leaders are in Baghdad today to discuss the problematic issues of the constitution which is planned to be finished by August 15. The meeting, planned for Friday, was delayed to today to allow more participants to come and due to Regional Parliament meeting of Kurdish Leader Mesud Barzani. Issues like federalism, the future of Kirkuk, the role of Islam and the official language will be discussed in the meeting. Kurdish Leader Mesud Barzani talked in Regional Parliament meeting in Northern Iraq yesterday (August, 6) and said that they will not abandon their demands of including Kirkuk into Kurdish Territory and for a federal structure. Barzani said ahead of the meeting of today: “If we do not do everything for
Kurdistan today we may not have a second chance.” Kurdish leader defended that the last decision will not be taken by Baghdad but their parliament and added that Kirkuk would be the capital city of Autonomous Kurdistan. Barzani noted that they will not let the Islamic identity to stand out in Iraq and added: “We do not accept Iraq’s Islamic identity. Iraqi Arabs are members of the Arab nation but we are not.” Shiite Leader Ayetullah Ali Al Sistani, who met with Iraq Prime Minister Ibrahim Caferi the other day, gave the message that he does not oppose Iraq’s having a federal structure. However, Sunni members of constitution preparation commission repeated that federalism is not possible in Iraq at the moment during their explanation yesterday. Sunni’s defended that Federalism can only be applied when Iraq has a parliament where all Iraqis are represented equally. Iraqi Sunnis oppose, to federalism defending that the country will separate in this way.
Meanwhile, Kurdish representatives voiced these demands on the constitution issue:
“Kurdish should be second official language of whole Iraq, rather than being the local official language of Kurdish district. There should never be any concessions from federal structure. Shiite Leader Ali Al Sistani also accepts this idea. So, the federalism issue should definitely take place in the constitution. The map of Kurdish District should be reviewed and the 58th issue of temporary constitution, which envisages returns of the ones who were forced to migrate during Saddam regime, should also remain in the new constitution. Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq should not be under the control of the Central Government but the local parliament in the region.” Mesud Barzani said after listening to these demands: “We will discuss these demands with President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad. We will defend our rights till the end.”
Source: Zaman, 7 August 2005