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Cry Me A Riverbend II

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Next Iraqi War?

Very good article by George Packer on the future problems between Iraqi nationalities bequeathed by Saddam. If you are a Kurd, and you are concerned about the whether Kirkuk will be a "Kurdish" city (and if you are a Kurd, I know you are), then you should read this:

Fanaticism is the legacy of Saddam’s Arabization policy. Every aspect of Kirkuk’s history is now violently contested. Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomans all make claims of ethnic primacy in a city where there are only pluralities. (According to the 1957 census, conducted before Arabization began, the city was forty per cent Turkoman and thirty-five per cent Kurdish.)

Ali Bayatli, a Turkoman lawyer, insisted that his people were direct descendants of the Sumerians and therefore the first residents of Kirkuk, with unspecified rights. Kurdish politicians have two slogans designed to end any argument: “Kirkuk is the heart of Kurdistan” and “Kirkuk is the Jerusalem of the Kurds.” Arabs, meanwhile, are angry about the sudden loss of power that followed the removal of Saddam. Luna Dawood’s view of her city’s future is grim. “It will be war till the end,” she said. “Everyone says Kirkuk belongs to us: Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans. To whom will it belong?"


  • As an alternative, they could have a collective attack of common sense and decide to call themselves 'Iraqis' and work together to make a decent city. They need to try to think of themselves as Iraqis first and other things second. Maybe there needs to be a large expansion of available housing in Kirkuk, to make room for everybody? Maybe this could be a smart use of the mass of reconstruction money--to head off a civil war, start an economic recovery? Nah, too much effort, let's just keep dropping bombs.


    By Blogger littlewhy, at 7:32 PM  

  • A collective attack of common sense would be ideal.

    Unfortunately, the current fight is not whether anybody who wants to can live there, but who will run the show.

    Kirkuk is a surrogate fight for the dreams of the Kurds for an independent state. Unless the Kurds and Sunnis leave beind the idea whether Kirkuk ought to be "Kurdish" or "Arab" and whether the oil there will "belong to" to Kurds or Arabs...well, more housing will only increase the number of combatants in the turf war.

    I think this article drops a little bit of sanity into the discussion when it states that prior to the start of the "Arabization" of Kirkuk, the most populous nationality of the city was Turkoman!

    Neither side seems concerned about whether the city and its oil will "belong" to the Turkomans.

    Perhaps zoning land for more housing and providing easy loans to people building there, might make it less useful for one side to use bully tactics to chase other ethnic groups out. But more likely it will add another front to the battle of "who can get more of their own people into the city".

    By Blogger CMAR II, at 10:09 AM  

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