A Wrong Kurdish Wager In Kirkuk


Mideast Mirror
July 30, 2008 Wednesday

The Kurds hard-line position on Kirkuk can only mean more trouble
ahead, says today’s Emirates’ al-Bayan

The Kurds insistence on rejecting the provincial elections law is
motivated by their desire to annex the city of Kirkuk, claims a UAE
daily. However, they need to remember that the city has historically
been a melting pot for all of Iraq’s constituent communities, and
that this fact cannot be eliminated by a political decision.

WIDE GAP: "The fate of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk has recently returned
to the forefront of events, threatening to detonate a major crisis
between Kurds, Arabs, and Turcoman, as well as other Iraqi groups
living in the city," writes the editorial in Wednesday’s UAE daily

The Iraqi Parliament’s vote on the provincial elections law –
boycotted by the Kurdish bloc, ratified by the MPs, and then rejected
by [Kurdish] President Jalal Talabani – has exposed the extent of the
gap that still separates the people of Iraq from a united vision of
the country’s future.

Although Iraq has been living in a vortex of continuous violence
since 2003, what has taken place in Kirkuk is extremely dangerous,
given the city’s rich ethnic and sectarian mix. This is a time bomb
that could explode at any minute. Monday’s events in which 27 people
fell victim to a suicide attack amidst a Kurdish demonstration are
no more than a prelude to this great explosion.

The city has some one million inhabitants, a mixture of Turcoman,
Kurds, and Arabs, with an Assyrian, Chaldean, and Armenian minority.

The warnings issued by tens of international organizations regarding
this oil-rich city have not prevented the situation from taking a turn
for the worse. More is likely in the coming days. This is because of
the Kurds’ insistence on annexing the city to Kurdistan Province, which
enjoys a broad degree of independence from the central government.

The problem of Kirkuk cannot be viewed outside the context of Kurdish
aspirations. Since 1991, these aspirations have centred on creating
a political entity that enjoys maximum independence from the central
government. A large part of these aspirations has been achieved since
the fall of the former Iraqi regime in 2003.

However, the current moment of weakness that Iraq is suffering from
does not mean that it is in the Kurds’ – or others’- interest to decide
the fate of one of Mesopotamia’s oldest cities, where the various
ethnic and sectarian groups have mixed for over 5000 years. History
cannot be struck out by a political decision.

One would have supposed that the Kurds would be more aware of this
historical fact than others. They are the one ethnic group that
has suffered more than any other from attempts to disregard it as
a result of the failure to recognize its identity when the region’s
maps were drawn.

The current historical moment may be appropriate for violating the
land of Mesopotamia at the hands of its own people, even before its
enemies violate it. But historical reality must not be absent from
anyone’s mind.

"It would be wrong for one of the Iraqi people’s constituents to wager
on a separate future away from the other constituents, especially
given everyone’s need for solidarity and unity behind the slogan of
reconstructing and rebuilding the new Iraq," concludes the daily.