Friday, March 13, 2009

Iraqi army troubles Kirkuk

Occupying lands infuriate Kurdish owners
By Ako Muhammed

Reports show hints on Arab-Kurd confrontations in the controversial Kirkuk province in near future if the Americans pulled out without leaving the issue resolved. And Kurds accuse the army for practicing actions adapted by the former system.
“The coming of the Iraqi army division 12 now in Kirkuk is a repetition of holding a security belt had been setup by former system in order to separate the province from Kurdistan Region,” Sirwan Kakaee, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament told the Globe.
Kakaee who smells political aims behind curtains explained that according to the article 9 of the constitution, the army establishments must not be used for political reasons and should not interfere within local administrations. That division’s structure is “unbalance” and it involves fewer Kurdish elements, he said.
Meanwhile, the Kirkuk Deputy Governor Rakan Al-Juburi, an Arab, accused Kurdish forces standing against deploying Iraqi army troops in the province.
“The division 12 was decided to control the Kirkuk province. When the division wanted to deploy, confrontation happened. And the confrontation was from parties and not by people or the government in Kirkuk, said Al-Juburi. He added that the army division had received orders to reach the green lines around Kirkuk; when they tried to carryout the orders, they found opposition by Kurdish parties which use “militias and Peshmarga illegally outside the Kurdistan Region and this is violating to the laws and constitution.”
Besides, spokesman for the Kurdistan Peshmarga Leadership, General Jabar Yawar declined any confrontations taken place between the Peshmarga and the Iraqi army in Kirkuk.
On his part, the Peshmarga official smoothed of the fear and assured, “the Kurdistan region is a part of Iraq State; the establishments in the region are the continuation of the Federal Iraq State establishments.
Above all, the Kurdistan Region Government minister for Peshmarga Affairs sheikh Jafer Mustafa announced they will not pullout Kurdish forces from the disputed areas, referring to Kirkuk and Mosul, because “there is no political agreement calls on withdrawal.”
“The Peshmarga stays there and we will not withdrawal before they are normalized and their problems are settled; and we will defend them in case of threats of security problems,” he told the Italian AKI news agency on Thursday.
Mustafa didn’t expected combats to happen “because the security task in Kirkuk and Mosul provinces are still controlled by the American forces.”

A confrontation story
When U.S. Col. Ryan Gonsalves strapped on his helmet and body armor and climbed into his mine-resistant vehicle on a recent Saturday afternoon, he wasn't heading to battle. The commander was rushing off to mediate the latest dispute between the Kurds, who dominate the local government, and the Shiite Muslim Arab-led Iraqi army, which is trying to assert its authority in this contested area in northern Iraq, the Mcclachy journalist group reported on Monday.
The paper also warned that if the U.S. troop pullout without leaving a solution, the Kirkuk issue could explode.
“The political battle between Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government and the Kurdish-controlled north is almost certain to be the biggest hot-button issue in Iraq in the coming years. Despite their fiery differences, the two sides agree on this: A full-fledged civil war will break out if the matter goes unresolved,” the Washington based newspaper reported.
The paper also quoted local Kurdish officials saying that the Iraqi army frequently overstepped its bounds, by firing at them or occupying buildings. The mayor of Dibbis, in Kirkuk province, said he'd received hundreds of calls from residents saying that they feared for their lives.
"That's why I want the coalition to help," said Mayor Hadi Mustafa, whose son, the American military and Iraqi police say, later was shot and wounded in the leg by unknown gunmen. "I don't want there to be a civil war."
Gonsalves said that the next three months are "very, very important," he said, and above all he advised the officials to keep their cool.
"You must have calm heads like you had today," he said. "If a leader gives a bad order, it can resonate throughout the whole organization."
In another side, the municipality chief of Dibbis, Omer Kakil accused that Iraqi army with occupying lands belong to Kurdish families.
“They occupy places had been occupied by former army and these lands belong to Kurds… and they have ownership certificates,” he said in an interview with Radio Sawa.

The Kurdish Globe

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