Monday, July 04, 2005


The Kurdish Question in Iraq

[I have posted some background information on Kurds in Iraq in my other blog “A Glimpse of Iraq” for readers interested in some more details.]


In a private communication, one astute reader sometime ago made the observation about Kurdish and other Iraqi bloggers ‘not talking to each other’! That is largely true. It is perhaps driven by a conscious or an unconscious desire not to confront each other at this stage… and wait and see how things develop. Kurds do want their independent state but do not want to go to war over the issue yet. I think they know that, practically, this is almost impossible at this stage.

Post-Invasion Politics

Kurdistan has not been devastated during the past two years because it was not “liberated” through an invasion; it was already an autonomous ‘safe-haven’! There has been little violence or disruption of life. Animosity towards the Americans is therefore almost non-existent.

Kurds are generally happy with and hold strongly to their autonomy.

This has been reflected by the Kurdish politicians’ position over the past two years. While America is around, they are trying to get as much as they can while paying lip service to the ‘territorial integrity of Iraq’. They have certainly firmly established a few things through TAL (the Transitional Administrative Law) particularly the concept of a Federal Iraq and the veto (which ironically the ‘Sunni’ provinces can now use). Both Barazani and Talabani were quick to write a letter to President Bush when UN resolution 1546 was being drafted. They were furious about the prospect of not mentioning the TAL in the resolution. In the end, Sistani was appeased by not mentioning that law specifically… but the Kurds won as it was that law that formed the basis of the interim government… and represents our “constitution” up to this minute.

Most Iraqis have been angered by some of the Kurdish demands during the process of forming the present, post-election government. Most saw those demands as impossible to meet. Some of those demands seemed to me to be more like conditions of a ceasefire between a victor and a loser than haggling between politicians of the same country. There were compromises later.

Both Barazani and Talabani are basically warlords. They have headed their respective parties for decades. They still do. However, they have both decided to play within the rules of a democracy that secures their dominance over Kurdish politics. Other Kurdish parties are bitter about their dominance over Kurdish politics.

Barazani is more of a traditionalist. Talabani is secular. Sulleimaneyya (Talabani’s capital) is much more ‘westernized’, while Barazani’s Arbil is much more ‘Muslim’ and traditional in façade. Talabani originally ceded from Barazani’s party sometime in the 70’s. Barazani is also more ‘tribal’. His father struggled long and hard against central governments for decades (and was played by all sides: Iran, America, Israel and Soviet Russia).

Aspirations and Limitations

Generally, the Kurds have had a very raw deal and suffered much for most of the past century. But their problem was mainly with governments and not with ordinary people. I think this is important.

I must add that Iraq is so old, it may be difficult for many people to understand the subtlety of some of the finer issues. Kurds are Indo-European in origin and not Semites. Kirkuk is contested. But Arbil, which lies north of Kirkuk has an ancient Semitic name (Arb= arba’a= four… il=God… city of the four Gods!!). Barazani is now trying to change that ancient name, which I find sad really. That name predates the Assyrians.

I can understand Kurdish national aspirations. I sympathize with them. Any fair-minded person should. Even Arab Nationalists should, if they want to be fair and honest! Just as they feel that Iraq is a severed part of the Arab world, Iraqi Kurdistan is part of the Greater Kurdistan. The important difference is that all the various segments of Kurdistan are swallowed by other countries!

Any Arab Nationalist who does not concede the right of the Kurds to National aspirations is not true to his own beliefs, unless they stem from subduing other nations! (People who see themselves as Iraqis first are another story; they simply will not concede to carving up Iraq.)

I believe that this Nationalistic aspiration is the real (frequently undeclared) conflict behind all this talk about federalism. Otherwise people would have been discussing de-centralization instead!

Most Kurds would like to cede from Iraq. But I’m afraid it is not possible for them to cede without causing much damage to themselves and to the rest of Iraq.

There are two main problems:

1. Surrounding countries:

Turkey, Syria and Iran all have Kurdish minorities. Turkey has made its displeasure quite clear. The position of Turkey on the question of an independent Kurdistan was summarized quite bluntly by their foreign minister about a year ago. Following some pressure from America (or Israel) he said that they were being given a choice between important friendships… and survival!

2. Kirkuk

If a province of Iraqi Kurdistan emerges from the present chaos and if, as would be natural to assume, the Kurds would want Kirkuk, if not for historical reasons, then definitely for economic ones: Iraqi Kurdistan could never survive economically without Kirkuk.

But…Facts must always come first!

• Kirkuk is contested!
• Kirkuk has Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen living in it, now! Even statistics used by all parties, agree that all those people were there for I don’t know how long. They only differ on percentages.
• I cannot see the Arabs or the Turkmen giving up what most feel to be their homes without a fight.

Remember, some of them lived there long before Saddam! If they had contested that land, they wouldn’t have been friends and allies against the foreign Ottomans. There has rarely been popular strife between them.

The Turkmen who have had a raw deal on the political arena in the past two years are likely to align themselves with the Arabs in any conflict in Kirkuk.

In this simplistic summary, I see all the elements of bloody strife, killing and suffering.

But basically, we all know that Arabs and Kurds don’t really have a problem of co-existence as people! They have been doing it for many centuries.

It is all a question of national aspirations!

There has been forced displacement of people from Kirkuk under Saddam. Come to think of it, there has been so much injustice and suffering, everyone had his share! Including, and believe me, even many of those unfortunate Baathists. I don’t think starting a new conflict between Iraqis at this stage would put things right or lead to any advantage to anyone!

When we have a good system of government and a decent judicial system, then, and only then can some of those injustices, forced displacements and statistics be addressed…the process could take years! During those years, it seems to me to be more rational to work together for a better country for all than killing each other!

Is There a Solution?

My personal belief is that there is!

The major source of anguish among Arabs and neighboring countries centers around one word: Federalism. If Iraqi Kurdistan is constructed following the present model, most non-Kurds believe it to be a recipe for ceding from Iraq. The Kurdish politicians’ insistence on redrawing inter governorate borders adds to that suspicion.

The new entity will be resisted, overtly or covertly, by all countries surrounding the northern half of Iraq (Turkey, Iran and Syria). Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq stand to suffer. At this point in history we simply cannot afford that.

The simple alternative is a federal state that has not just two regions (Arab and Kurd) but 18 – the present number of provinces (or governorates) of Iraq.

If each province is given a high degree of autonomy, but relies for income on the central federal government and if the army remains federally controlled, this has the advantages of
• meeting the nationalist aspirations of Kurds (language, culture, self-government, etc) in their three provinces…

• and yet appeasing other Iraqis and neighboring countries, since each of these provinces cannot unilaterally cede from the country.

Those provinces can, at a later date when conditions permit, form the coveted region.

There are numerous ways of addressing the grievances of displaced people in Kirkuk and elsewhere equitably within Iraq or through international legal bodies or organizations. Many people in Iraq, not just people in Kirkuk, have many grievances that have to be addresses and rectified. We cannot hinge everything on sorting out Kirkuk, risking the stability of the whole country in the process.

I must add that this scheme does not seem to appeal to most of my own Kurdish friends. They want their Kurdistan in one piece, now!!


Hello Abu Khaleel,
To be honest, I am not much of a believer in the nation-state. I believe that in the 21st century, it isn't worth a thing to sit atop another people and I also believe that every ethnic group including the Basques of Spain deserve their own homehand ( ya, and Israel too-TO A POINT). Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia are better than Yugoslavia and Russia, Ukraine,Kazakhstan, Georgia (and Chechnya, too) is better than the USSR. If Iraq can be a homeland to the Kurds in every sense( language and culture) than it deserves to keep them. Currently, the jury is out.

If you were to ask me, I'd say the Kurds were poised to take over the place.
I would cooperate now while the getting good.
Maybe your friends herd might have a chance to grow.

"They want their Kurdistan in one piece, now!!"
Bit hard to know what to say on this one, Abu, beyond "Oh dear," which presumably isn’t much help.
I mean, what you seem to be saying is that nearly a quarter of the citizens of Iraq don’t particularly want to be citizens of Iraq, is that right?
(And if it is, over the last decade they’ve had a jolly good taste of not being Iraqis? But the place they really want to be citizens of doesn’t actually exist, and is very unlikely to come into being in the foreseeable future? Without a lot of strife involving Turkey and Iran as well, anyway?)
I guess the question is: when this free, sovereign, federal, peaceful, prosperous Iraq emerges from the present little hiccup - sometime between 12 months and 12 years from now, apparently, depending on which coloniser is talking - will the Iraqi Kurds be happier then with their citizenship? Or will federalism just be an encouragement to further separatism?

As someone who generally reads about the Kurds in the Assyrian press, I'm worried. It's possible that in some areas the Kurds and the Assyrians (or Chaldeans, or...) get along well together. Several areas seem characterized by anti-Assyrian violence, the kidnapping of Assyrian girls and women, and the expropriation of Assyrian villages and farmland. Further, recent incidents of Kurdish anti-Assyrian violence in the Syrian city of Qaramles raise disturbing questions about Kurdish intentions with regards to the ChaldoAssyrian minority in their midst.

Abu Khaleel,
I am puzzled by the claim that Arba-ilu precedes the Assyrians. Of course it precedes Christianity, but to the degree that the ancient Assyrians (and thus their modern descendants) are at least in part descendents of the Akkadians, then they are descendents of the speakers of the earliest recorded Semitic language in Iraq.

As to Kirkuk, the Assyrians claim that its name derives from the Syriac 'Karka dbet Sloqa', 'Castle of the Seleucids'.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin


I think you are right to be worried! I too have been disturbed by those reports. Perhaps this is natural for a country without much rule of law and at best ruled by militias.

Regarding Arbil… Although all those people are agreed to be Semites, there were so many waves of them. I can accept that the early Babylonians (the Amorites) were descendents of the Akkadians (I can see a relatively ‘smooth’ process of transition’)… but I tend to believe that the Assyrians were a fresh wave. They have so many different and distinguishing characteristics. I don’t know. It could be the influence of the different nature of the region they inhabited.

But the name was used by the Akkadians. The Assyrians came much later. This is why I said it preceded the Assyrians.

As to Kirkuk, you are right… but the Seleucids are relative newcomers to the region (they followed Alexander’s glorious but short episode). A more ancient name was Ara’pha, also obviously a Semetic name. It is mentioned in Babylonian and Assyrian writings as a region that was often attacked by “mountain people who inhabited the north western territories” !! (See for example S.H. Gadd and Sidney Smith. There may be an internet reference, I’m having a rather poor connection).

Circular, are you still with us? I think that you have summarized the problem quite elegantly.

Sorry Abu, but all I know about Assyrians is that they came down like a wolf on the fold, and their cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold. And that's probably all I want to know about them.
To save me from overtaxing the internet, and my grey cells, I suppose the key factor is whether the Syrian and Turkish Kurds suffer from serious oppression and discrimination in those countries, which would presumably determine whether Kurdish demands for independence are going to continue and increase?
If the new Iraq (Mark II? Mark XIV?) has to deal with this problem as well as all its other difficulties, perhaps your friendly American guests better stick around indefinitely to cope with it?


Since I've quoted Lord Byron:

So, we'll go no more a-Roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-Roving
By the light of the moon.

Was Byron thinking of Karl?

Childe Circular

Abu Khaleel,
The Assyrian language, the Akkadian language, and the Babylonian language are all about as closely related as Iraqi Arabic and Syrian or Jordanian Arabic. This leads me to believe that the Assyrians were most likely akin to the Akkadians and the early Babylonians, as the languages used by other Semitic peoples such as the people of Ibla or the Arameans were completely distinct.
Also, unlike the situation with Arabic, where we have both a spreading people and a subsequent conquest, there is no record of such a spread or conquest in the case of the Assyrians.

In Turkey, non-Turkish ethnicity tends to be denied or supressed. Kurds are quite definitely oppressed in Turkey.
In Syria there is also discrimination, with Kurds being denied Syrian citizenship. There is apparently an active Kurdish movement in north-east Syria, which has had several clashes with the local Assyrian community during the past year. There have been articles (from the Assyrian point of view) at dealing with the issue.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin

Actually I should of course have included Iranian Kurds in my question as well.
Chris Allbritton has just put up a very gloomy assessment at:
I'd be interested in Abu's comment on his accuracy.

To put it another way, the ruthlessness of Saddam's regime seems to have been keeping a number of energetic genies (djinn?) corked up in the Iraqi bottle?
Pulling the cork with "the army you have" may not have been the brightest idea? Not going to be easy to get them back in the bottle?

Dear Abu Khaleel,

I'd like to thank you so much for your interest in this important matter which obviously originates from your deep and genuine interest in the welfare of Iraq.

Having read your letter, I have certain comments to make, hoping that they would enrich the substance of this discussion with an aim to reach common grounds of understanding and following the same sequence being used in your letter.

You mentioned that Kurds do want their independence. This is true and can be proven by the result of the last census made during the elections of Iraq. More than 90% of the voting Kurds favored independence. The question is whether it is better for the Kurds to follow such a path. The general belief among the leading political figures in Kurdistan as well as the intellectuals, that it is not the right way to go. Such aspirations and emotional-based feelings could have negative results and devastating calamities on the Kurdish people. It is wise to make use of the experience of other Nations world wide. The draw-backs of “Pan-Arabism” and “Bath” mentality is a clear example of how things could go wrong while embracing such ideologies. The European experience with the Nazi’s is another example.

Another question is if independence must necessarily mean having a separate country. The strong feeling we have is that our demands could be met without having to be completely independent. Personally, I do not think that at this age, countries could be completely independent. The whole world is tuning to an extremely complicated web of intermingling relationships, whereby no one country could isolate itself from the others. As for our case, I believe that it would be better to establish a workable relationship between the Kurds and the Arabs of Iraq together with the Turkumans and other ethnic groups who share this country. This relationship should help us to co-exist and build up bridges and ties based on common economical interests. This should be the first priority in our mutual plan of action and to be followed by setting a common base of understanding and possible cooperation with Turkey, Iran and the other Arab neighboring countries.

Post-invasion politics
You try to make it sound here that the devastation of Iraq has happened in the last two years with the exception of Iraqi Kurdistan. I believe that this assumption lacks accuracy. Iraq as a country has been going through a process of systematic destruction since the late sixties of the last century. It was not only the infra-structure of the country that was blown to pieces, but it is the people of Iraq; the most precious asset of all. The materialistic loss and difficulties we are facing in Iraq requires many years to work on, but to build up a new Iraqi personality could take many generations. Naturally, you could not have this done without the cooperation of the diversified ethnic groups of the whole of Iraq.

Looking at Iraq at present, we can clearly note that there is relative calmness in the southern part as well as in Iraqi Kurdistan. Actually, it would be reasonable to say that the Kurds look upon the Americans and the rest of the forces as saviors and they welcome their presence in the region.
As for causing anger to most Iraqis or putting conditions for a ceasefire by the victor, It is commonly known that it is the previous central government forces of Iraq that invaded Iraqi Kurdistan, caused the destruction of more than 4500 villages, implemented ethnic cleansing in Kirkuk and resulted in the devastation of the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds. Naturally, the Kurds are not willing to go through this dilemma again. They would take all necessary steps to safeguard themselves against such atrocities in the future. The two Kurdish political parties that stood-up against the officials of the fascist central government and Saddam Hussein and his bunch of thugs and murderers were mainly the Kurdistan Democratic Part (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan( PUK); an off-shoot from the KDP. This struggle took over 50 years and was increasingly supported by the Kurds and other people living in Kurdistan. Despite the brutal force which culminated in Genocide and mass murder as in Halabja, this support and continuous help and show of patriotism never ceased to exist and grow in size and quantum. The people looked upon the two leaderships as the natural leaders and defenders for the rights of the people of Kurdistan. They might be seen by some as war lords. To the Kurds they are not.

As in any other nation, differences in thoughts and even bloody conflicts do arise between two different parties having different and separate interests. Kurdistan is having its first steps in the path of freedom and Democracy. Sometimes, they have to learn the hard way.

Aspirations and Limitations
Till the Ba’ath party’s first hold of power in 1963, Kirkuk as a province or the city was never contested. It has always been considered as part of Kurdistan. The old maps and demographic layouts of the region clearly show that. Even the general census made by the central government in 1957 indicates that half of Kirkuk is Kurdish, 28% are Turkumans who predominantly live in the town of Kirkuk, while the Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians and other ethnic groups represent the remaining 22%. The Arabs mainly occupied and settled in the “Hawija” area, the arid land in the western part of Kirkuk’s Liwa or province. This land was part of the “Ameeri” lands that is controlled by the government. It was mainly used for grazing sheep and later on cultivated since the new irrigation project of Hawija was established in 1936. The demographic changes started taking place and the ethnic changes started in 1963. If Kirkuk is contested, it is only because of its Arabization; a process that has to be corrected first as stated and agreed in TAL. Another change that was done by the Ba’athist regime was slicing out many sections from the governorate of Kirkuk, especially the Kurdish and Turkuman areas and attaching them to other governorates being Diyala, Salahuddin and Suleymaniya, also with the intention of diluting the presence and percentage of those original inhabitants and then claim that Kirkuk is contested!?

It is worthwhile mentioning here that the Nationalistic aspirations of the people of Kurdistan are clearly mentioned and officially stated and declared in their Media (TV, Newspapers and other publications) as there is nothing to hide and no intension to do so. To the Kurdish leadership and as in any other nation, all decisions and actions are thoroughly considered and carefully studied first. This would include the anger and worry caused to the Turkish government when the decision was taken for a Democratic Federal Iraq. Despite this anger, I believe Turkey’s attitude and behavior has changed dramatically in the past two years, as they have to think and plan very seriously for their future role in the European Union, which they have been trying to join in for the last two decades.

As for your statement about Kirkuk, It is based on inaccurate assumptions. It is not for economic reasons that the Kurds justify their demands for this province. Despite the importance of the Oil fields there, it represents only 7-8% of the total in Iraq. It is also clearly stated in TAL that all the Natural Resources in Iraq is part of the responsibility of the Federal government of Iraq in Baghdad. That is in addition to the other duties and responsibilities such as the foreign affairs, the federal armed forces, the monetary policy…etc. In any case, it would be unwise to stick to the 7-8% while abandoning to claim for the rest.

One last thing to mention about Kirkuk, the solution has been clearly defined in TAL. What is needed now is for the government to start with the implementation.

Is there a solution?
It is extremely important to put everything in the right perspective. The Kurds did not opt for joining and being part of Iraq in the first place. The Arabs had their own dreams and aspirations as well, but were finally confined to accept the new countries such as Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the rest. Now we have what we have. We have to be able to co-exist and live together in as much as possible without grievances and/or atrocities. For this we need a binding agreement or what is called a constitution. The end-result should be better for both parties without this feeling of being the Victor or the losing party. If this can not work, there are always other solutions and paths to follow. Let us take this pragmatic approach and stop being emotional and act accordingly.
This is the solution

Salar Baban

Hello Salar,
I am continually impressed at the degree of sociability of Iraqis and their determination to remain so. How often I read of a sheikh whose tribe is half Sunni and half Shia. Even Kurds are well mixed throughout Iraq. It is difficult for Americans to appreciate the usefulness of this unique 'mortar'in rebuilding Iraq, they prefering their own clumsy 'building materials'. Like building a skyscraper in Greenland instead of an efficient igloo.

Hello Anonymous,
The idea is for the Iraqis to start building their own country after this long dark period of wrong-doing, which led to this devestation.
Without the help of the Americans, The British and all the allied forces. We Iraqis would never had the chance to do this. We will definately need their help and financial assistance to re-build, but it is us "Iraqis" who should do the work. We must not rely on the Americans to do it instead.
It is the German people, The Japanese themselves who built Germany and Japan from almost scratch. We should learn from their experience.

The feeling I get from the Kurdish bloggers and their posts is that there is a lot of ill feeling between Kurd and Arab Iraqis. I can understand why, following the campaign Saddam launched to subdue them. There are also sour grapes from the Arab side, who see the Peshmerga in ING uniform today as seeking revenge on them as a whole, and as tools of the US occupiers.

My personal views are pretty close to Abu Khaleel’s. I agree that the Kurds have had a very rough time all round. They have been played as pawns by every nation in the region and even by others that rightly should not be (US, USSR) in the said region. They have always done everybody’s dirty work in the hopes of one day having a country of their own, only to be left in the lurch when things went bad. I can understand why they are allying themselves with the US this time round (forgetting of course the past betrayals of the Kurds by said country) in the hope of finally getting what they want.

Perhaps this time they will.

But there is always a good possibility that they will not; to this end I would advocate that the Kurds do not lend themselves too readily to the foreigners cause, and that they keep the channels of communication with their fellow Arab Iraqis open (and vice versa, of course.) … because if the US were to cut and run, which friend would they turn to then? As Sun Tzu said, if one has allies, then one’s position is strong. What then, if those allies are gone, and if in the process of cultivating that alliance, one has made new enemies?

Kurds and Arabs should talk to each other about the issues that are important.

Is Kirkuk Kurdish? Many, if not most Kurds think so. What then, of the Arabs that live there? If there were a large number translocated under Hussein to that region … are they to be simply thrown on the street? Doubtless the Kurds who lost their lands might think so. On the other hand, to take such an action reeks of the means Saddam used, does it not? Would it not be fairer if a claims – and – compensation process were instituted, so that IF a court found that X land was indeed forcibly removed form Kurdish possession in order to be given to somebody else, that it could be restored to the original inhabitants and a suitable compensation be paid to those losing the land? That seems to me the most workable solution.

Salar Baban, in his excellent post, claims that the geographical demarcations of Kirkuk were reset in order to advantage the Ba’athist government. My knowledge of the specific issues is not great enough to agree with or contest his assertion. Nevertheless, questions like this should be looked at with a sober and critical eye and discussed frankly amongst all parties in order to reach a compromise.

The important thing, however, is that all Iraqis keep talking to each other and keep in mind that there ARE external forces that would use you against each other for their own gain. Your divisions as Iraqis ( Kurd/Arab , Sunni/Shia ) are their gains.

I agree for example, that Kurds perhaps ought to wait before trying for independence until the violence and anger has died down. While such a move would ignite tensions with the Turks and double the problems for the Americans who I feel are up to no good … it would also enormously increase the possibilities of a general all-round bloodbath.

Once heads are clear and the air is calm, rational talk will prevail over crude force of arms.

"to take such an action reeks of the means Saddam used, does it not? "

Have pigs sprouted wing and started flying?
Bruno and I agree on something, even if it's just this one point, it proves that it can happen to anyone.

I forgot to add something. There are Arab people that want to leave the north and return to their homes in the south. Guess who put out death threats to anyone that tried it?
That's right the Glorious foreign resistance! yeap, the same resistance that murdered 20 children this morning for accepting candy from soldier, that resistance.

I wonder if the host could explain the politics behind it as he see it.

Hi Salar, nice one. thanks for the info.

Tara Jaff


Can you give a reference for these threats to Sunnis who would like to move south from Kirkuk?

Be Well,
Bob Griffin

Two things I'd like to mention:
1- Regarding Kirkuk's problem and what Bruno suggested in resolving this issue is similar to what is stated in the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) which is considered as the transitional constitution for Iraq till the new elections next December. I am quoting Article 58 which specifically deals with this issue
"Article 58.
(A) The Iraqi Transitional Government, and especially the Iraqi Property Claims Commission and other relevant bodies, shall act expeditiously to take measures to remedy the injustice caused by the previous regime’s practices in altering the demographic character of certain regions, including Kirkuk, by deporting and expelling individuals from their places of residence, forcing migration in and out of the region, settling individuals alien to the region, depriving the inhabitants of work, and correcting nationality. To remedy this injustice, the Iraqi Transitional Government shall take the following steps:

(1) With regard to residents who were deported, expelled, or who emigrated; it shall, in accordance with the statute of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission and other measures within the law, within a reasonable period of time, restore the residents to their homes and property, or, where this is unfeasible, shall provide just compensation.

(2) With regard to the individuals newly introduced to specific regions and territories, it shall act in accordance with Article 10 of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission statute to ensure that such individuals may be resettled, may receive compensation from the state, may receive new land from the state near their residence in the governorate from which they came, or may receive compensation for the cost of moving to such areas.

(3) With regard to persons deprived of employment or other means of support in order to force migration out of their regions and territories, it shall promote new employment opportunities in the regions and territories.

(4) With regard to nationality correction, it shall repeal all relevant decrees and shall permit affected persons the right to determine their own national identity and ethnic affiliation free from coercion and duress.

(B) The previous regime also manipulated and changed administrative boundaries for political ends. The Presidency Council of the Iraqi Transitional Government shall make recommendations to the National Assembly on remedying these unjust changes in the permanent constitution. In the event the Presidency Council is unable to agree unanimously on a set of recommendations, it shall unanimously appoint a neutral arbitrator to examine the issue and make recommendations. In the event the Presidency Council is unable to agree on an arbitrator, it shall request the Secretary General of the United Nations to appoint a distinguished international person to be the arbitrator.

(C) The permanent resolution of disputed territories, including Kirkuk, shall be deferred until after these measures are completed, a fair and transparent census has been conducted and the permanent constitution has been ratified This resolution shall be consistent with the principle of justice, taking into account the will of the people of those territories."
2- The issue of the deposed Kirkukis is considered to be a hot and volatile situation where it could lead to a complicated situation and possible blood bath if the process of resolving the issue is delayed once more and that is the main reason why the Iraqi constitutional committee had identified the problem and stated the methodology for the solution.
There are practically thousands and thousands of those people who have left their refugees camps and are waiting to go back to their lands and villages. You can't ask such people to wait again indefinitely, now and after two years or more since the fall of the tyrant Saddam, who caused all this mischiefs.

Bob Griffin,

I don't have it handy, I would have to do a search in the archive of the Kurdish blogs

Abu Kahleel doesn't seem to have posted for at least ten days now (last comment above about July 6?) That seems quite a long time for him?
Hopefully I'm being paranoid, but in view of what's happened to Khalid Jarrar it's a bit worrying.
Does anyone have any information?

I just wanted to offer some encouragement. Though the cultures appear fractured and discontiquous now, once the government stabalizes and the wealth starts flowing freely (We hope) it will sow the rifts between peoples. Economic ties tend to bind, even when religions and cultures are different.


According to your own figures, Kirkuk had a 50% non-Kurdish population more than 20 years before Saddam took office.

TAL was constructed by an ‘occupying authority’ (their own description) with the help of members of a body ‘appointed’ by that authority. It cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered binding to an elected legislative assembly no matter what misgivings we may have about the election process. Yet this is exactly what TAL aims to do.

Furthermore, if it is seen as fair that TAL gives veto power to 20% of the population of Iraq over the future design of the country. Isn’t it only fair to give those non-Kurdish 50% living in Kirkuk a similar veto over the future of Kirkuk?

“Alien to the region”? I thought we were talking about a single country! Are the million + Kurds (about a quarter of the whole Kurdish population) living in Baghdad and constituting about 20% of its population… also “alien to the region”?

It is quite unfortunate that the main Kurdish parties, in their drive to get maximum immediate benefit under the present conditions, have fallen for the foul play of polarizing Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines. I can understand why they did it. Nevertheless I believe it is a grave error of judgment. We all stand to lose this way.

This is a dangerous game. America will not stay in Iraq forever. It does not pay in the long run to obtain concessions for a segment of the Iraqi population that may be seen as unfair by the majority of the population. It is a recipe for continued strife and possibly further injustice. As Bruno has pointed out, Kurds have to reach out to the rest of the population. This would be a better approach for longer term fairness and stability. The many grievances in Iraq have to be addressed on an individual basis not on an ethnic one. The points that you mention in all of your three comments only confirm the fears I expressed in the original post.

What we need is a contract (constitution) that is not ‘forced’ on the majority of Iraqis, and consequently rejected by them. In a free country, the majority can change the country’s constitution any time they like. How do you plan to cope with that problem in the future? The only solution is a contract that the majority accepts and that is fair to everybody, Kurdish or otherwise.

It is far better and safer, in the long term that we work for a country so that ALL segments of the population, including the numerous small minorities, can live in dignity, have their individual and ethnic rights preserved and secured. That is the true guarantee… that we all should seek.

Mad Tom,

I have already written about what I know of the violent, armed forces in Iraq several times on this blog.

This host no longer has the time or the motivation to explain things to people who do not have the desire to learn.

On the one hand we have this highly organized, most powerful army in the world acting under a clear, single, unified and well-defined chain of command.

When members of this army do horrible things to people, kill civilians almost at random, torture people, many of them innocent, rape women, men and young children… we are told that these are few bad apples, or little frightened kids acting in self defense.

On the other hand, there is a wide multitude of armed people working in the dark, fragmented and definitely not under a single command (some observers looking from the outside, and from a distance, managing to identify at least 75 independent groups).
Some of the more vicious forces operating in Iraq have been lured into my country by your administration…

Yet those same people lump this wide assortment of forces under the term ‘glorious resistance’. And hold that ‘group’ responsible for all those atrocities.

How can I take these people seriously and explain things to them?

"I have already written about what I know of the violent, armed forces in Iraq several times on this blog."

I have just recently rediscovered this blog, So I have not had the opportunity to follow along with the conversation, and as time is for me, as I'm sure it's for all at a premium, I have not been able to read your achieves. So I am quite unaware of anything you may have already addressed. If you would please direct me to the relevant post it would be greatly appreciated

"This host "

I hope you did not take that the wrong way, it was not meant to be offensive, but the opposite, being new here I find it difficult to address you in such a familiar term as Abu, as in my own culture it would be disrespectful to address someone you barely know, in the familiar. So the generic host. Though your voice does ring familiar, but I have not been able to place it, so I could be wrong.

"On the one hand we have this highly organized, most powerful army in the world acting under a clear, single, unified and well-defined chain of command."

Yes, but you can never take the humans out of the equation. 99% of all failures will most likely come from the one fallible component in the system, humans themselves.

"Some of the more vicious forces operating in Iraq have been lured into my country by your administration…"

There is truth to this statement, at least in my opinion, but, there's always a but, they seem to have known the way there, they seem to have come over roads well traveled.
I asked you before, if you could guarantee that they would not have come regardless of our intentions or plans. Can you in fact assure us, and yourself that had we not "lured" them that they would not, of their own accord, have come to Iraq to find their just rewards?

"the term ‘glorious resistance’."

That term is not directed at the terrorist, grouped or otherwise, but at their supporters. Like you I have become numb to the many atrocities and even worse I find it hard to understand all those who try to find excuses for, and or understanding of, those that would commit such acts. So for them I have created this term hoping beyond all hope that I may reach out to whatever humanity they may have left, Reacting to it may just prove that you are still human.

"How can I take these people seriously and explain things to them?"

I apologies for my own short comings and assure you that I am interested in learning, I prove it every day by trying as best as my own limited abilities allow to engage in reasoned discourse, and to understand to whatever extent it is possible for me the complexity of the situation. Your time will not be wasted to that extent.

What Abu Khaleel says about the TAL is quite true. I would not necessarily regard it as a legitimate document at all. I also agree with his advocating the resolution of grievances on an individual basis. Mass expulsion of Arabs from Kirkuk is certainly unacceptable as a civilised act. Nevertheless, what I would also say is that if there are portions of the TAL that are just and reasonable, then surely they could be used as a basis with which to settle disputes, as long as all parties agree.

The 20% Kurdish veto that Abu Khaleel mentioned is indeed unfair. On the other hand, it is also true that the Kurds fear a repeat of the usual ‘beat them into line’ procedure, in the event of an Islamic government coming into power, for example.

My fear would be that the Kurds gained important concessions during a time of duress … only to see those concessions become the basis for a new round of violence against Kurds, when those same gains are seen as an unjust casus belli to be redressed. And really, even if one day “Northern Iraq” became a de jure “Kurdistan”, would it not be better to have Arab Iraq as a friend than an enemy?

If these appeals to logic don’t work, then let me point out that in simple military terms, if there IS a Kurdistan one day, and the Turkish tanks roll in … would it be better to have your back to an enemy or your back to a friend? Your thoughts, Salar Baban?

Obviously, we are looking at the Kurdish issue and Kirkuk from different points of view.
TAL was written by Iraqis who stood up against Saddam and his regime for the past 30 years. Those are from different ethnic groups and religions, but they all share a unified vision of their future in Iraq. The government that was chosen came after the elections last Feb. where more than 8.5 million Iraqis participated (Kurds. Turkumanns,Assyrians, kadlians and Arabs) Sunnis ans shiites, Moslems and Christians. It was legitimate and fair as well. IT IS THAT GOVERNMENT that accepted and sponsored TAL as the interim constitution till the next one is issued and ratified.
As for Kirkuk, again you make it sound as if the Kurds are kicking the Arabs out of their legitimate homes and land. Let me remind you once more that the percentage of Kurds and Turkumans came down from 78% to 35% in 2001. To me the Arabs who's percentage has risen from some 20%in the whole of Kirkuk's govern orate and 0% in the city of Kirkuk up to 61% in Kirkuk city and Governorate are occupiers and Aliens and there is no doubt about it. It is true that this might have happened over the last 40 years or so, but this can not go on forever. Even the Arabs who are living in Kirkuk now have accepted this fact and confirmed their wish to help and rectify the situation (reference is made to the last delegation of Arab leaders who visited Mr. talbani, the President of Iraq and shown their support and commitment to evacuate the lands they occupied). As for the Kurds in Baghdad, they did not occupy any piece of land by force or follow a governmental plan of Genocide and ethnic cleansing, or do you see it otherwise!?
The Americans and their allies who came and occupied Iraq are the forces which liberated us from Saddam. Otherwise, we might have stayed under his rule and his sons after him for many years to come. We appreciate their help and realise that they have their own interests in the region, which we appreciate and accept as well. As I mentioned earlier, no one can isolate himself or his country from the outside world.
It is important for us to realise that the old schools of thought and brutal practice are gone. The Republic of Fear has crumbled down and things are getting better despite the resistance and terrorism that we face those days.

One thing I'd like to mention to Bruno, there is no such thing as a 20% veto for the Kurds. This I guess is somewhat twisting the meaning of phrases and paragraphs being mentioned in TAL. The best might be to read the full text of TAL before jumping to conclusions or passing judgments, but as a summary, the veto power applies to all regions and govern orates, and not only to the Kurds.
It is always better to have friends rather than enemies. I believe that this is true. It applies to both parties as well.

"there is no such thing as a 20% veto for the Kurds."

Sir, don't waste your breath Bruno know this very well, as do others. Yet that never stops them from spreading that particular little lie. If they repeat it enough time even they will believe it.

Salar Baban –

I admit I am not very acquainted with the intricacies of the TAL, simply because I regard it as a document that is illegitimate as it was forged under the duress of an invading army, contrary to the conventions of the UN. Don’t even get me started on the elections …

Nevertheless, the 20% veto has been associated most often with the Kurds, perhaps that is why I never thought of its relevance to other regions. This is a genuine misunderstanding on my part and not some sinister subterfuge as alleged by that annoying gnat madtom.

My posting here in relation to the Kurdish question is mainly thus:

(1) I agree that the Kurds as a distinct geographical ethnic group have a right to decide their own future. I would prefer (as if I had any real say in the matter, LOL!) a whole Iraq with the Kurds within it, as this would be the option with the least strife, but if your people decided that their own country was the only way forward, then so be it.
(2) Kurdish aspirations ought not to be achieved at the cost of others. If land was taken from Kurds and given to Arabs, then it ought to be reversed on a case by case basis. Mass expulsions would NOT be the correct course of action.
(3) I can appreciate that the Americans have been your allies to some extent by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. On the other hand, they were also his allies at a time when he was wrecking all manner of mischief and murder on the Kurds. In fact the US went so far as to try and absolve Hussein for the massacre that was Halabja by blaming Iran instead. Just remember that if Hussein had not fallen out of grace with the Americans, they would still be supporting him. What I’m saying is, use them while they are there, but never trust them. They are like tumbleweed, and they will drift in whichever direction the most profit and advantage is to be gained. If they have to choose between Turkey and the Kurds – who do you REALLY think they will choose?

And yes, I agree that having friends is important and that yes, it works both ways. I don’t see why intelligent peoples like Arabs and Kurds should not be able to amicably solve their differences.

hi salar
i hope you get this . I just came across you by chance. You and i share atleast 2 things : THE SAME first and Last name. I would like to know what else do we have in common. you can reach me @ looking forward to hearing from you.
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