Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Arab relocation could escalate tensions in Kirkuk

On March 29, the Iraqi cabinet endorsed a decision to relocate Arabs who had come to Kirkuk under Saddam Hussein’s Arabization policy, in exchange for compensation. An estimated 8,000 Arab families have said they are willing to leave Kirkuk, according to an IRIN article Tuesday. Iraqi Justice Minister Hashim al-Shibli, who heads the committee overseeing the Kirkuk talks, said that the return process is “voluntary” and will be implemented “without coercion.” Willing participants, pending proof they moved to Kirkuk after July 1968 – when Hussein’s Baath party took office – will be paid $15,000 and given land in their hometown, according to the article.

The new policy has been met with Arab resistance though. One member of Kirkuk’s provincial council, Sheik Abdullah al-Obeidi, who is also a representative of Sunni Arabs, said: “We strongly reject any incorporation of Kirkuk into the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG].” Jassim Hassan, an Arab Kirkuk resident since 1984, reacted to the proposal: “The government gave me a piece of land, which belonged to no one, and helped me to build my house. I will never leave this city, only my dead body.”

The measure has one Kirkuk-based political analyst concerned about mounting tensions. Hafidh al-Jawari believes that the referendum to decide if Kirkuk will fall under the jurisdiction of the KRG, which is set to take place by December 2007, should be postponed. Relocating thousands of Arabs who have resided in the province for the last two decades and “turning the city into a Kurdish one overnight will only increase violence between the Kurds on one side and Arabs and Turkomen on the other,” he said.

For the full article, click here.


Post a Comment

<< Home