Friday, January 20, 2006

Iraq sliding

Every time an election or a referendum takes place in Iraq, it almost invariably creates hope that the regime will gain legitimacy and that terrorism and the Sunni resistance will lose momentum. That hope, however, quickly fades. This time, too, in the wake of the election there has been a sudden, big increase in attacks directed at US troops, Shiites and state institutions.

Gündüz Aktan

Every time an election or a referendum takes place in Iraq, it almost invariably creates hope that the regime will gain legitimacy and that terrorism and the Sunni resistance will lose momentum. That hope, however, quickly fades. This time, too, in the wake of the election there has been a sudden, big increase in attacks directed at U.S. troops, Shiites and state institutions.
America is to withdraw some 20,000 troops from Iraq out of a force that currently totals 160,000, including reinforcements sent in for the elections. This development is not unexpected. However, according to a previous congressional decision, plans for the withdrawal of the remaining forces must be announced during the initial six months. Any such announcement at this juncture would lead to Iraq's unraveling.
America is planning to expand the 200,000-strong Iraqi army and police force to around 300,000 by the end of 2006 and gradually hand the task of ensuring law and order over to them; however, the Iraqi army is not equipped with heavy weapons and the military training program has not been completed. The main problem is that the army does not harbor any overriding concern to preserve Iraq's unity. The Kurds maintain the peshmerga as a force that is much more heavily armed. The Sunnis are not admitted into the army since they are Baathists. As a result, the army is Shiite dominated. This hardly qualifies as an “Iraqi” army.
One U.S. official predicts that if things continue the way they are, the Iraqi army will split into ethnic and sectarian groups, degenerating into a number of armed bands and into militia forces of various segments. In that case, the Shiite-Sunni clash that has been under way could grow into a full-fledged war.
Furthermore, election results show that people all voted for their respective ethnic and religious groups rather than acting as “Iraqis.” Naturally, one cannot expect the army to be any different from the political structure prevailing in the country. In other words, the army could hardly be expected to transcend the “narrow” considerations of the political parties.
America has been in contact with members of the Sunni resistance. Its aim is to drive a wedge between the Sunni resistance and the al-Qaeda-led Zarqawi faction. Indeed, the Sunnis are complaining about al-Qaeda's indiscriminate violence. Sunni resistance fighters aim to drive the U.S. forces out of Iraq and regain their former sovereignty to the extent that it would be possible. Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, has aims that are a lot more extreme. The belated American attempts to win over the Sunnis have not, until now, yielded any results other than bringing about a stronger-than-expected Sunni turnout in the elections. The American press now is adopting a stance that is more critical of the Shiites and Kurds, whose petty moves to shut the Sunnis out of a coalition government are nudging the country closer to disaster.
The Sunnis have another problem. The Sunnis, who governed Iraq for 60 years, used to be known as the country's second largest group, albeit by a narrow margin. Yet, the American press now relegates them to Iraq's third biggest group status. Yet the Sunnis believe themselves to be, in reality, the majority. The truth is that at this moment no one knows the true size of this group. By the way, we do not know the exact size of the Turkmen population in Iraq, either. A census had been contemplated for the autumn of 2004 to determine the size of each group. That would have been important for the soundness of the elections. The plan was later dropped on grounds that this could lead to Iraq's disintegration. However, in any case Iraq is now disintegrating and the lack of information about the true size of each group in Iraq is contributing to this process.
The gravity of the crisis in Kirkuk is increasing. Since the Kurds have helped America, the latter tolerated for quite a long time Kurdish efforts to change the demographic structure of the Tamim province. Under Saddam's rule an Arabification drive had been launched there. To counter the effects of that drive, Article 58 of the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period envisaged a particular procedure to be followed to ensure that the displaced Kurds would be returned to the province. The procedure was never quite upheld. However, the new Constitution states that a referendum is to be held in 2007 to determine whether the province should be attached to the Kurdish region or to Baghdad. By now the Kurds have forcefully driven out the Arabs and piled a Kurdish population of some 350,000 into Kirkuk. This unlawful fait accompli is the biggest factor that could lead to a declaration of independence on the part of the Kurds and cause Iraq's disintegration.
If, in the face of such a possibility, the Shiites and Sunnis joined hands to protect Iraq's territorial integrity, then that could change the course of the civil war. The fact that terrorist attacks have recently spilled into Kirkuk indicates that this is not a possibility to be taken lightly.

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!

Gunmen target Iraqi poll HQ

Tuesday 17 January 2006, 13:19 Makka Time, 10:19 GMT
Masked gunmen killed two people in attacks, 30 minutes apart, on an election headquarters and a Kurdish political party office in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday.
The first attack was at about 7am (0400 GMT) on the offices of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, IECI, in southern Kirkuk, according to Farhad al-Talabani, a police spokesmanFour gunmen walked into the offices and fired randomly at employees, killing one of them and wounding another, he said.
Another police spokesman, Ahmad Hamawandi, said that half an hour later, four gunmen fired on the headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK, about a kilometre away, killing one and wounding two others.

Two of the gunmen fired from a stationary car and two others got out of the vehicle and shot at party employees as they entered their offices at the start of the working day, Hamawandi said.

Al-Talabani said: "Police suspect that the first attack on the IECI headquarters and the second attack on the party headquarters might have been conducted by the same group of gunmen."

Also in Kirkuk, a roadside bomb exploded on Tuesday morning as a police patrol passed by, wounding two officers in al-Qassab Khan area in eastern Kirkuk, Hamawandi said.

Kirkuk, 290km (180 miles) north of Baghdad, is a hotbed of ethnic tensions claimed by Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Shi'ite bloc short of Iraq parlt majority -source

Reuters - London,England,UK... formed by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the ... The Shi'ite Patriotic Rafidain group and the Turkish-speaking Turkmen Front won ...

Kurds challenge Baghdad over oil-exploration rights

Washington Times - Washington,DC,USA... Published reports indicate Kurdistan's oil fields are smaller than those in southern Iraq and near the contested city of Kirkuk. ...

Iraq needs to be one, not three

Iraq’s division into three countries or autonomous regions would be traumatic because there are no clear demographic lines separating each distinctive group. Substantial numbers of Sunnis live in Shiite and Kurdish areas. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis and Turkmen call Baghdad home.

Iraq's destiny still rests between God, blood and oil

The Kurds dominate the puppet army and police; they have determined the ultra-federal character of the constitution and make no secret of the fact that they favour an ethnic cleansing of Arabs and other non-Kurds in Kirkuk, including those born in the city. Oppressed minorities in one epoch can rapidly become oppressors in another as Israel continues to demonstrate to the world. The Kurdish leaders, with Kirkuk in their bag, are happy to become a western protectorate.....