From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Iraq | International
Iraqi Kurdistan leader Barzani stands by challenging Turkey on Kirkuk
by reposted
Friday Apr 13th, 2007 8:12 AM
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani on Tuesday insisted on continuing to argue that Iraqi Kurds would retaliate by interfering in Turkey if the Turkish government takes a step towards interfering in northern Iraq.

"Iraqi Kurds would not accept any foreign interference on the Kirkuk issue as it considers it an internal affair that should be resolved internally," Barzani said at the International Democracy Conference which was held in Arbil, reported the state-run satellite channel Al-Iraqiya.

Stating that his initial warning broadcast last Saturday by Al-Arabiya television was taken out of context, Barzani stated that his aim was to underline their commitment to to taking reciprocal action if Turkey interferes in Kirkuk.

"We will defend our rights and not submit to anyone except God," Barzani said, stating that it is hard to understand how a state stakes out a claim to interfere in other states' internal affairs while becoming disturbed when it takes a warning.

Underlining that the Kirkuk issue has to be resolved by Iraqis according to Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, Barzani said, "We do not say that Kirkuk will be for Kurds only, but it is an Iraqi city carrying Kurdish identity and all historical facts confirm this."

Stating that they want the normalization of every issue regarding Kirkuk, Barzani said that the world is to realize that Kirkuk is a city that has a Kurdish identity when that normalization takes place.

Mentioning also that Iraqi Kurds will not use the Iraqi flag, Barzani said that they will fly the Republic of Iraq's flag used after the 1958 revolution, since the current flag represents the Baath Party, with its three stars representing three goals: Unity, freedom and socialism.

Article 140 of the Iraq constitution stipulates that the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk can only be achieved by the return of Arabs, who settled in the city during the former Iraqi regime, to their hometowns after offering them compensation, and the return of expelled Kurds.

A census will follow the referendum, during which the people of Kirkuk will decide whether to remain a part of the Iraqi government or to join Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Kurds insist that the article be applied because there are former Baathists in most of the Iraqi institutions in Kirkuk, despite the toppling of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime.

ARA BASLIK: Kirkuki: Kurdish people stand behind Barzani

Meanwhile, Regional Kurdish Parliament Deputy President Kemal Kirkuki stated yesterday that all Kurdish people in northern Iraq stand behind the statements of Barzani, and said, "It is necessary to show that it is a normal affair to react to anyone who is minatory."

Responding to the style of the statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kirkuki said, "A prime minister has to know where to stop and use well-mannered language."

Erdogan responded to Barzani's initial warning on Monday, saying Iraqi Kurds will pay a heavy price if they interfere in Turkey's southeast region. He said Barzani "overstepped the line" and said Iraqi Kurds could be "crushed" under their own words.
by more
Friday Apr 13th, 2007 8:13 AM
WASHINGTON, April 12 The top Iraqi government spokesman said the debate over the future of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is "an Iraqi issue," a response to strong words from Turkey. Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and a former member of Parliament and adviser to the Iraqi Governing Council, said during a trip to Washington Wednesday that the future of Kirkuk will be decided by a referendum, as required by the constitution.

Kirkuk, in northern Iraq but just outside the official Kurdistan Regional Government's purview, sits on an estimated 15 billion barrels of Iraq's 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

by more
Friday Apr 13th, 2007 8:13 AM
PKK problem cannot be resolved unless Turks, Iraqi Kurds talk, Kurdish official says

WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News

U.S. and Iraqi Kurdish officials on Tuesday appeared to be disagreeing on the timing of a controversial referendum for the future of the oil-rich and multi-ethnic northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, but it was not clear if the rift could eventually derail Kurdish plans to include the disputed area into their semi-autonomous region.

At an Iraq conference here, a senior Iraqi Kurdish official insisted that the referendum be held before the end of this year, as planned by the war-torn country's constitution, but a U.S. State Department official said Washington had no position on the polls' timing.

Turkish diplomats welcomed what they saw as a sign of a change in U.S. policy on Kirkuk, which so far had fully backed the Iraqi Kurdish position.

But some analysts warned that a U.S.-Kurdish tactical alliance remained fully operational in Iraq and that Washington was unlikely to abandon the Kurds on Kirkuk at a time when it needed them desperately on the ground.

Kirkuk, a tense mix of ethnic groups, sits on nearly 40 percent of Iraq's oil, and the Kurds view it as the future capital of their region. The Kurds want to implement a constitutional provision that calls for a referendum later this year on whether Kirkuk should become part of the Kurdish region.

But in addition to Kurds, Kirkuk is home to Turkmen, Arabs and Christians, and all non-Kurdish groups seek a special status for the strategically important area. In the wake of an exodus of more than 100,000 Kurds into Kirkuk following the 2003 Iraq war, Turkey and the city's non-Kurds say that a referendum under altered demographic conditions will not be fair, legitimate or acceptable. They warn that the holding of such a referendum soon could cause a bloodbath and major regional conflicts.

by more
Friday Apr 13th, 2007 8:14 AM - By Martin Zehr

The prospect for the independence of Kurdistan remains the only bright spot in the future of South West Asia. The fall of Saddam has opened a window of opportunity for the Kurdish people to establish their own state that is secular and democratic. Against them lies the theocratic interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the military dominated Turkey and the Baathist regime of Syria.

The first step is in Iraq. No people deserve the chance to self-rule more then the Kurds. Trying to maintain a centralized government in Iraq will be as elusive as trying to make a ball of water. The fragmentation that has resulted is the result of the partition of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War 1. The Kurds were left out of that settlement despite promises to the contrary. There is that option, or there is the option for the expansion of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its linkage with its own sponsored private armies in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.

At the present time there is a coalescing of Kurdish forces as has not been seen before in recent history. The PUK, KDP, PJAK, and Kongra-Gel are working together as never before. The issue of Kirkuk has arisen because of the displacement of Kurds by Saddam and the resettlement by Arabs from other parts of the region. The referendum is significant and worthy of support by the US government.

Turkey has asked the US for measures to prevent the transfer to Kirkuk of Turkish Kurds currently based at a refugee camp in Iraq after the possible closure of the camp, sources said.

Turkish and US officials report that a deal to close down the camp has almost been reached and that they are trying to designate a destination for those refugees who do not want to return to Turkey. Turkey has been pressing for closure of the Makhmour refugee camp in Iraq, saying it has been used by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a training ground. Washington has recently signaled readiness to deal with the issue, but Ankara has told US officials that closure of the camp alone will not satisfy Turkish demands to eliminate the presence of the PKK terrorist organization in northern Iraq.

"We are concerned with efforts to present closure of Makhmour as proof that the US did its share in the fight against the PKK. Closure of the camp should not be presented as the most important concrete step in the fight against the PKK," said one official, emphasizing that Washington has been requested to work on other anti-PKK measures as part of a wider strategy to deal with the PKK problem.

As part of the talks, Joseph Ralston, the US special envoy for countering the PKK, told Turkish officials that Washington expected Turkey to provide guarantees that residents of the Makhmour camp will not face any negative conditions if they choose to return to Turkey.

Turkish officials predict that not all of the approximately 10,000 refugees living in Makhmour would want to return to Turkey and warned US officials not to allow the relocation to Kirkuk or other areas near the Turkish border of those who do not want to return to Turkey.

Turkey has already expressed strong concern that Iraqi Kurds are trying to change the demographic composition of Kirkuk by sponsoring the return of tens of thousands of Kurds from other parts of Iraq to the oil-rich city. Ankara has repeatedly demanded that a referendum on the status of the city, slated for the end of this year, be postponed, given that the result of the vote is now a foregone conclusion after the influx of Kurds into the city.

by more
Friday Apr 13th, 2007 8:15 AM
The signals are clear. Iran has cut a deal with the Iraqi Kurds at Turkey's expense. The US is supportive as part of its cooperation with Ahmadinejad in Iraq. As a result, Barzani and Talabani will annex Kirkuk and all of northern Iraq by staging the 15 November referendum on the status of Kirkuk. Meanwhile, Iran will take Basra and southern Iraq.

This Iraq partition scenario is a disaster for Turkey, which would become Iran's next target. Turkey has only three options to avoid defeat.

To begin, Iran's collaboration with the Kurds against Turkey is a matter of record. A quick tour of Iran's official website shows twenty seven Iranian statements referring to northern Iraq as "Kurdistan" since March of 2006 (Turkey is at war with this designation of northern Iraq.) Iran has opened three Consulates in Iraq, two of which are in "Kurdistan." Iran's third Consulate is in Basra in southern Iraq, which is now under Iranian control. Iran has signed numerous bilateral agreements with "Kurdistan," including military cooperation agreements. Finally, Iran has sent high ranking officials of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Quds Force to meet with Barzani and Talabani to discuss Kurdish-Iranian military cooperation. In fact, the final details of the Kurdish-Iranian partition of Iraq may be under negotiation in these meetings.

In short, the Kurdish-Iranian offensive to take Kirkuk from Iraq is in high gear, unopposed by the US. What can Turkey do to prevent defeat at the hands of the Kurds and Iran? Again, Turkey has three options.

Option one consists of Turkish hit and run raid against the PKK in northern Iraq. Turkish military leaders are already signaling Turkey's intention to conduct such raids. However, this option is undesirable for Turkey because it brings substantial negative consequences in the form of international disapproval with no Turkish gains, aside from a temporary disruption of PKK activities.

Option two is for Turkey to establish a military presence in Kirkuk and Basra. Turkey can do this by using its own forces, as recommended by (March 07). As an alternative, Turkey can approach the US about sending Turkish peacekeeping forces to Kirkuk and Basra. Option Two produces an outcome acceptable to Turkey because it would do the most of all three options to deter Kurdish and Iranian hegemony in the region.