Selling Kirkuk for a mess of
potage By Ali al-Fadhily
BAGHDAD - An Inter Press Service (IPS)
report published on Asia Times Online on May 31
(Kurds drawn into Iraq's firing
line) on clashes between Kurdish
Peshmerga troops and militiamen of Shi'ite cleric
Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad has been confirmed by
an Iraqi member of Parliament (MP), representing
the Sunni-led Iraqi Accordance Front (al-Tawafuq).
Speaking on condition of strict anonymity
inside the heavily fortified Green Zone of central
Baghdad where the Iraqi government meets, the
member told IPS that Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki "sold Kirkuk in
exchange for Kurdish support for his collapsing
government, and other matters such as not being in
the way of Shi'ite militias in Baghdad".
He clarified that he believes Maliki made
a pact with Kurdish MPs to relinquish plans for
trying to have the central government in Baghdad
control economic and oil issues in the
Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk in northern
Iraq, but did not express confidence that the deal
would be honored.
maneuverings these days are "about who is to take
over power in the country", he added, "while
people are getting killed by the hundreds every
Last month the clashes between the
Kurdish and Shi'ite militias occurred in the Amil
and Bayaa areas of southwest Baghdad. The Kurds
were manning a checkpoint that was part of the
Baghdad security plan when they were attacked by
the Shi'ite militiamen.
underscore the tense and extremely volatile
political situation, exposing a very real
possibility that Kurdish-Shi'ite fighting could
ignite in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, as Muqtada
has many followers in that mostly Kurdish city.
"Peshmerga Kurdish forces withdrew from
Bayaa and Amil immediately after Prime Minister
al-Maliki's return from Sulaymaniya and Arbil,
cities in northern Iraq," retired Iraqi Army
general Mahmood Sultan said.
now works as a military analyst for various
organizations in Baghdad, said: "It is obvious
that Iraqi leaders have started dividing the
country and high posts. They are taking advantage
of the US administration's despair for any
possible exit from the deteriorating situation."
The first battalion of the second Iraqi
Army division, which is a Kurdish Peshmerga
militia unit, withdrew from the Bayaa and Amil
quarters while telling people in the area that
they would be replaced by another Kurdish group.
Residents, however, were surprised to see
forces of the Ministry of Interior taking over the
former Kurdish positions. Ministry of Interior
forces are largely composed of Shi'ite militias,
and have been accused of operating as death
Immediately after the Kurdish
forces withdrew, Shi'ite militias appeared to
invade Sunni mosques and start killing and
evicting Sunnis in the area.
for the People of Iraq Assembly, led by Adnan
al-Dulaimy, condemned the reappearance of Shi'ite
militias and their "brutal attacks" against Sunni
"Faatah Pasha and other mosques
are now occupied with Shi'ite militiamen under
cover of Iraqi police," read a statement from the
group addressing the matter, "and the government
is fully responsible for the current situation and
any future disasters which could take place in the
Shock waves from the
incident are already shaking up the government.
An Islamic party senior member who is
deputy chief of the Security Committee in
Parliament, Abdul Karim al-Samarra'e, said at a
news conference that he contacted Minister of
Interior Jawad al-Bolani and National Security
Adviser Muaffaq al-Rubaie about Shi'ite militias
invading southwest Baghdad and the urgent need to
react to the withdrawal of the Kurdish unit.
"I received no response," he told
reporters, "and this has led me to suspend my post
at the committee until the situation is
Shi'ite militia activity
continues to be high across Baghdad, but has
worsened since the Kurdish unit was removed from
the aforementioned areas.
attacked our area in Saydiya near Bayaa on
Thursday," said a lawyer who lives off the main
commercial street of Saydiya, speaking on
condition of anonymity. "They started their usual
business of detaining people in order to execute
them later, but the God-blessed resistance
fighters appeared to teach them a lesson, and so
they escaped like scared rats."
Iraqis in the area believe that the combination of
an impotent Iraqi government and ongoing political
deals are only worsening the already catastrophic
condition their country is in.
certainly one part of the deal between [Kurdish
leader Massoud] Barzani, [Iraqi President Jalal]
Talabani and Maliki," said Yassir al-Ani, a
journalist who lives in Saydiya. "We never trusted
the Kurds to be a positive factor in the equation
and we were positive that they were brought to
Baghdad just to support Americans in their effort
to defeat the resistance and to gain more
privileges in the new arrangements for dividing
Some Iraqi analysts believe
the incident and the resulting political
machinations are a reflection of the crisis the US
military faces in Baghdad and shows there is no
single group capable of achieving control of the
ever-worsening situation in the capital city.
"All US allies could not have full control
of any part of Iraq, and so they have become more
a problem than a solution to the dilemmas the US
Army is facing in the disturbed country," Iraqi
political analyst Maki al-Nazzal said.
"The only way out of all this is to talk
to the right people, who certainly are not those
in the Iraqi Parliament, but then again that would
mean an obvious sign of defeat for the American
project in Iraq and the area."
al-Fadhily, IPS's correspondent in Baghdad,
works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail,
IPS's US-based specialist writer on Iraq who
travels extensively in the region.