Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Peshmerga reportedly on the move

AlHayat: (The background being hawkish statements made by Masoud Barzani at the Irbil airport on his return from talks in Baghdad yesterday):
Within hours of the threat by [Barzani] to incorporate Kirkuk into the Kurdistan region in the event of failure to agree on the matter of the provincial election law, and [within hours of his calling] the parliamentary confirmation of the law (on July 22) "a conspiracy against the Kurds," two brigades of Kurdistan region protection forces (Peshmerga) were being deployed to areas adjacent to the border between the [Kurdistan] region and Kirkuk province, in a way that closed off the road to Arab regions in Baiji or Turkmen regions in Daquq or Taza for movement into the city of Kirkuk. Eyewitnesses told AlHayat that these forces set up roadblocks [where they] raised the Kurdish flag, causing indignation among the residents.
(Recall that in July 2007 there was an announcement that Peshmerga forces, apparently with the agreement of the GreenZone government, were being sent to protect the road between Baiji, where there is a major oil refinery, and Kirkuk, this road being outside of Kurdistan region).

AlHayat adds that the Iraqi defense minister Abdulqadr al-Ubaidi visited Kirkuk yesterday to inspect Iraqi army units there, and held closed meetings with the governor of Kirkuk and the president of the regional council [correction, I meant the provincial council]. Ubaidi is reported to have said that "there isn't a need for additional forces from the Center and South of Iraq, because the security situation in the province is stable, and the security forces in place have shown their fitness".

AlQuds al-Arabi this morning publishes the same report about Peshmerga troop movements and the closing of the Baiji-Kirkuk road, suggesting the two papers had a common source for this. The AlQuds reporter explains that the Kurdish units in question are technically part of the Iraqi forces:
The sources added that members of these two brigades--which were earlier annexed to units of the Iraqi army by virtue of an agreement between the Kurdish government and the central government in Baghdad--raised the Kurdish flag in a way that aroused the indignation of the residents.
The disposition of troops on the ground isn't made crystal clear, but the AlQuds headline puts it this way: "New failure in arriving at a solution to the elections law; Peshmerga encircles Arab and Turkmen districts in Kirkuk".

AlQuds AlArabi adds remarks by a political analyst by the name of Ibrahim AlSumaidaie who warns the country risks a new round of internal fighting, this time of a racial character. He says the Kurdish parties' intransigence is owing to their conviction that they are the balance of power in national politics, something he says is not entirely the case any more. The Kurdish parties could have laid their hand on Kirkuk in the period after the 2003 invasion, he says, but instead they chose to rely on political deals they thought would result in eventually obtaining Kirkuk as a gift.


Blogger annie said...

a gift? that sounds so weird.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

He says the Kurdish parties' intransigeance is owing to their conviction that they are the balance of power in national politics, something he says is not entirely the case any more.

That's quite a good point by Sumaida'i. I am sure he is right.

9:54 AM  

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