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Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdish Iran

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 17:51

In the North of Iraq in Nineveh the relations between the ruling Sunni and Arab groups on the one hand and Kurdish political leaders on the other aggravated. The situation tends to transform into an ethnic confrontation between Kurds and Arabs. The problem is that there is a conflict between the Sunni party Al-Hadbaa and the Kurdish Brotherhood group as to the distribution of power. At the 2009 conference the parties failed to reach a consensus.
The members of the Kurdish Brotherhood ignore the activity of provincial administration established in Mosul and composed primarily of the Al-Hadbaa representatives. It should be noted that before that the Sunnis won the local elections in 2009.
The Kurdish Brotherhood acquired 12 seats in the local administration out of possible 37. They, however, demand the position of the vice governor and vice president of the local management council.
The current vice governor of the local council is a Kurd and comes from Mosul. But at the same time he is a member of the Sunni party Al-Hadbaa which goes contrary to the nationalistic basis of the Kurdish Brotherhood. It should be noted that in 2005 the USA assisted the Kurds in the establishment of their own region in the territory of Iraq with a semi-autonomy status and very plenary powers. The Constitution of Iraq describes all the plenary powers given to Kurdistan including the right to form a separate independent state in case the authorities violate their liabilities. In September 2006 Mesud Barzani issued an order to be effective in the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan that prohibited to openly display the Iraqi flag that Kurds consider to be a symbol of Arab chauvinism.
Today Kurdistan has its own parliament and government, its own Peshmerga military forces (up to 80 thousand people with heavy machinery, weapons and tanks), its own security service organized with the help of Israeli Asaish specialists, a number of satellite channels (Erbil Kurdistan-TV, Sulaimanian KurdSat and others), four universities (in Sulaimania, Erbil, Duhok and Kifri). In 2005 an airport was build near Erbil that provided air connections with the outer world (there is another airport in Sulaimania).
Today in the Northern region of Nineveh there are 16 local councils that boycott the activity of the governor. But according to a KRG representative, the councils have the right to boycott and this is quite legal. Kurds in Nineveh fear that Arabs may start to conduct their own policy in the region without taking notice of Kurds’ interests.
In the current situation Kurds boycotting the governor may establish their own local councils. The KRG Minister for Regional Affairs Muhammad Ihsan stated that the boycott is legal and assured everyone that in this situation we deal with boycott only, not with the a demand for independence. Muhammad Ihsan also said that he hopes the conflict would be solved soon and the decisions would be taken with due attention to the interests of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Yazidis. According to Ihsan, the Kurdish Brotherhood boycotts the local administration because the latter does not display proper respect for Kurds.
According to experts, Kurds are actually trying to legally fix the control over Kurdistan and widen the existing borders. After the American invasion in Northern Iraq Kurds have been trying to legalize the actual annexation of the territories and include them into the Kurdish semi-autonomy under the lead of the Kurdish regional Iraqi KRG government.
Another serious political problem that aggravates the confrontation between Arabs and Kurds is the Military Forces of Kurdistan — Peshmerga. Its soldiers are scattered all around Northern Iraq. In March 2009 Abdullah Al-Jaber — the leader of the Arab-Sunni Movement for Justice and Reforms — demanded that Kurdish forces be withdrawn from those regions of Nineveh where they were located and replaced by the Army of Iraq.
According to Al-Jaber the presence of Peshmerga in Nineveh outside the Kurdish district is illegal and does not comply with the Constitution of Iraq. In response to this the Peshmerga representative Jabar Yavar stated that the Peshmerga forces would stay in the districts that are considered disputable under Article 140 of the Constitution of Iraq.
Analysts believe that the presence of Peshmerga forces outside the territory of Kurdistan is a form of bringing the pressure to bear upon Arabs. It is reflected in the elections in those regions where there are no distinct authorities, but there are numerous centers of power. It is the presence of the Peshmerga forces (controlled by the Kurdish regional government) in the North of the country (outside Kurdistan) that is the main stumbling block in achieving consensus between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq and in developing a balanced system of management in the country.
Experts also believe that the situation in Iraq tends to transform into an ethnic confrontation between Kurds and Arabs. Both Arabs and Kurds strive to control the oil territories in the country. This coupled with nationalistic and religious aspects of the problem break all the schemes introduced by Americans and international organizations for the achievement of political stability and compromise.
There is also an opinion that before the 2009 elections there were two competitive projects in Iraq: federal and centralistic. Now the federal ideas are done away with. Iraq was consolidated on the ideas of nationalism and centralism — an ideology that excludes a possibility of any minority autonomy existence, let alone an autonomy as large as Kurdistan. Maliki who played a vital role in the introduction and promotion of these ideas, has now turned into a pawn in their hands. All his political growth is connected with Arab nationalism, and in this situation he will not manage to make concessions even if he wants to. This concerns not only Kirkuk, but also Nineveh. If Maliki gives Kurds the “Muslim lands”, it will mean losing the whole credit trust among the electorate, especially in the North of the country, and this trust is strategically more important for him than the tactical support on the part of Kurds

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