Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Arab tribes of Kirkuk say they are ready for confrontation

Around 500 Arab leaders in the Kirkuk area met yesterday in Hawija (50 km west of Kirkuk city), including leaders of the Abeed, Jabbur, and AlbouHamdan tribes, and heads of local awakening councils. Their spokesperson, Hussein Ali al-Jabburi said the Arab tribes are "in a state of readiness" (in the event the Kurdish parties persist in their threat of annexation), adding that their tribal relationships "extend to all of the cities of Iraq". The gist of the statement is reported by both AlHayat and AlQuds alArabi, the latter paper in more detail. The AlQuds reporter leads the story this way:
The crisis over the fate of Kirkuk saw further escalation yesterday, with a threat by Arab tribal leaders to use force in defense of the Arabness of the city, in response to the demand of the Kurds for annexation to Iraqi Kurdistan, and [in response to] their forces having surrounded the Arab and Turkmen districts...
The spokesman said: "[We] Arabs have a limited patience, and if we are obliged to confront, then we will do so. We do not want recourse to violence but we are ready, and we have capacity and capability that should not be underestimated."

The journalist points out that Jabburi is also head of his local Awakening. Having expressed his hope that the crisis with the Kurds would not lead to violence, he added: "We do not want violent confrontation; we are part of the political process, and we are fighters against AlQaeda and against criminals...Our concern is the dispossession of the rights of Arabs and the confirmation of the Iraqness of Kirkuk".

There isn't any further information on the actual state of affairs in Kurkuk. The rest of the AlQuds alArabi story is about the failure in Baghdad to agree on the elections law, and the adjournment of Parliament to Sept 9.

The AlHayat story reports even less, including only the gist of the statement by al-Jabburi in addition to the news about the adjournment of Parliament.

Azzaman, for its part, describes the Parliamentary adjournment as an effort to calm the situation in Kirkuk, indicating generalized fear that any any decision could be destabilizing. The Azzaman writer says the adjournment was decided on:
after the security situation in the city deteriorated to the point where it could explode at any moment, with bad security repercussions for all the cities of Iraq, particularly Mosul and Diyala.
He doesn't elaborate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have felt from the beginning that the most dangerous and difficult-to-resolve conflict for Iraq would be around Kirkuk. One of the ironies is that whereas it seems the battle is over the "Arabness" versus the "Kurdness" of Kirkuk, it was, before it was "Kurdish" or "Arab", more a Turkmen city, and yet the Turkmens seem to be left out of this altogether now.

I do not agree that Kirkuk is an "Arab" city, but I agree whole heartedly that its "Iraqiness" must be preserved.

8:53 PM  
Blogger badger said...

a distinction that once again, for various reasons, will be lost on a lot of people. Already this morning we have Juan proclaiming: Arab tribes threaten violence! conveniently leaving out the part about not wanting violence and preserving its Iraqi character...

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure what hampers Juan Cole more in his commenting about Iraq. Is it his obvious biases for one group over another, or is it his lack of any kind of ground-level experience of Iraq?

It is one thing to be informed, it is another thing to know what one is talking about.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

Alsumaria TV also has a report about the tribes in English for those interested.

8:22 AM  
Blogger badger said...

thanks, here it is in clickable form

8:40 AM  

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