Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The extent of Kurdification of Kerkuk region

SOITM (Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation),

Nijmegen, 11.01.2006 --

Kerkuk is a region of 2.2% of the planet petroleum deposit,(1) which amounts over 10 billion barrels of the oil reserves.(2-4) According to McDowell the oil revenue at the beginning of 1974 was expected to be ten times higher than in 1972 and Kerkuk accounted for 70 per cent of the state’s total oil output.(5) The oil of Kerkuk is well known for its good quality and shallowness of the wells, the petrol layers lay 840-1260 meter under the surface of the earth.(6) The underground of the city contains a substantial amount of natural gas and sulphur(7,8) which is exploited since the seventies of the latter century. According to Hanna Batatu the population of Kerkuk City was almost all Turkmen until not too past, the Kurds moved into the city with growth of the oil industry, their migration intensified.(9) Edmonds considered the great majority of the Kerkuk city as Turkmen in 1940s.(10) D. McDowall points out that although the Kurds were settled increasingly in the city during the 1930s and 1940s, the Turkmen outnumbered in the province as a whole and predominated in Kerkuk town in 1950s.(11) The arrival of the Kurds into the eastern Iraq had been described by both Phebe Marr and O’balance. Marr mentions: “In recent history, Kurds have been migrating from the mountains into foothills and plains, many settling in and around Mosul in the north and in the cities and towns along the Diyalah River in the south, but most Kurds still live along the lower mountain slopes where they practice agriculture and raise livestock.”(12) O’balance says: “Right up until the end of the 19th century the sight of a large tribal federation, with all its livestock, moving across the mountains and plains of the northern parts of the Middle East in search of fresh grazing, was both splendid and ominous - as nomadic Kurds moved like a plague of locusts, feeding and feuding.”(13) The steps of the Kurdification of the administration system in Turkmen region by the USA authorities in Iraq had been treated in details in the reports of SOITM and in the documents which were presented to the United Nations session on Minorities and Indigenous peoples. Thereafter, the gash of the Kurds continued into the region. The staffs of the governmental offices have been doubled; almost all the new appointees are Kurds. Tens of thousands of the Kurdish families have built houses on the municipality lands and legalized by the Kurdified Kerkuk administration. By the flagrant interference with the voter registration, USA aims to legalize the Kurdification of Kerkuk region. Kerkuk department of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) had registered about 460.000 voters, who hold the official documents of the province, in Kerkuk during the institution of the voter lists at the end of 2004. Before about 10 days of election, the commission was ordered to add about 108.000 Kurds who hold no legal documents proving that they are from Kerkuk province. The total number of the Kerkuk voters became 576.048. By this way, the Kurds win the majority in the Kerkuk council. It should also be noted that the election processes had been achieved under hegemony of the USA military authorities and Kurdified administration of Kerkuk. The realization of the Kurdification processes continued with much strength during the renewing of the voter lists for the election of 15.12.2005. The newly added voters in Kerkuk province reached 227,253, which make 40% of the total number of the Kerkuk voters. The mean of the number of the added voters in the remaining provinces of Iraq was 8.2. The great majority of the newly added voters took place in the election centers of the Kurdish region and with a Kurdish director of registration center.(13) In the early December, the IECI confirmed that about 86.000 voters were cancelled from the voter lists of Kerkuk. On 11.12.2005 and before 4 days of election, the IECI had gone back on his words and authorized the Kurds, who had committed the false registrations, to recheck the documents of these voters during the voting processes in the day of election.(14) Therefore, all these people had voted during the election of 15.12.2006. As a result the number of the voters in Kerkuk province accounted to 803.301. According to the statistics of UNICEF, the percentage of the Iraqis above 18 year was 52%.(15) Consequently, the present population number of Kerkuk province should be 1.544.809. According to the statistics of the ministry of trade of Iraq, number of the Ration Cards, by which every Iraqi receives the monthly portion of foodstuffs, in Kerkuk province was accounted to be 870.000 at the day of occupation. Noting worth, that this number is much possible to be high than the real number to be low. As a result, the increase in the number of the Kerkuk population during the Kurdification period, which started directly after occupation and continues until now, is about by 674.809. The numbers of both the Kurds and the Turkmen, who had been exiled from Kerkuk province during the Arabification policies of Ba’ath regime, were: 100.000 according to the United States special committee for refuges. 120.000 according to the Human Rights Watch and the Kurdish parties.(16) No doubt that the oil patrons in Bush family and in the USA administration can secure the huge oil reserves of the Kerkuk region better by the Kurdish authorities than the Turkmen or Arabs. Note: Reviewed for English language by M. Kelenchy Reference:

  1. Ziyad Köprülü, “Turkish Presence in Iraq”, By Ornek Limited Company, Ankara 1996, P. 22.
  2. Dale Allen Pfeiffer, “US INTENTIONS”,
  3. nternational Finance Center,
  4. Iraq Petroleum Company,
  5. David McDowall, “A Modern History of the Kurds”, I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers 1996, London & New York, P. 335.
  6. “The Great Oosthoek Encyclopedia and Dictionary” 1978, Dutch version, volume 11, P. 264 - 265.
  7. “Encyclopedia Britannica” 1992, volume 6, P. 377.
  8. “Great Soviet Encyclopedia” 1976, English version, volume 12, P. 510.
  9. Hanna Batatu, “The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq”, Princeton University Press, New Jersey 1978, P. 914.
  10. Cecil John Edmonds, “Kurds, Turks and Arabs”: Politics, Travel and research in North-Eastern Iraq”, 1919-1925, Oxford University Press 1957, P. 265.
  11. D. McDowall “A Modern History of the Kurds”, I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers 1996, London & New York, P. 329.
  12. Phebe Marr, “The Modern History of Iraq”, P. 9.
  13. Press Release of the IECI about the voter lists in Kerkuk,
  14. Press Release of the IECI about the annulment of the voters from the Kerkuk voter Lists,
  15. UNICEF, At a glance: Iraq,
  16. IRIN, “IRAQ: Mixed picture for IDPs in the north!