Thursday, August 14, 2008

Peshmerga refuses to withdraw from Iraqi territory

AFP: Kurdish forces refuse to quit battlefield Iraq province

I wonder whether Maliki would dare to pull off a Charge of Knights (or a Georgia) against the two separatist Kurdish gangs to restore control over stolen Iraqi territories. Kurdish politicians have long ceased to act as partners and their ugly face has been revealed to Iraqis with their empty threats to use force to annex Kirkuk and large parts of the Ninewah, Salah ad-Din and Diyala governorates, over which they already exercise de facto military, intelligence and administrative control.

As one Iraqi writer recently put it, Kurds have a "state and a half" while Arabs who constitute an 80% majority only have half a state. The two Kurdish gangs hold the positions of President, Deputy Premier, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Foreign Minister (in addition to control of seven other ministries), Iraqi Army Chief of Staff, and Iraqi Air Force Commander in the Iraqi government, yet the Iraqi government has absolutely no authority in the Kurdish region, not even to appoint a physician to a village's medical center or a traffic policeman.

The Kurdish region receives 17% of the Iraqi budget (which they can spend without central government oversight) in addition to the salaries of about 400 thousand Peshmerga fighters, yet it does not receive back a penny from the region, not even customs revenues from five border crossings with neighbouring Turkey and Iran located within the region. The Kurds have unilaterally granted oil exploration and export contracts to several international companies despite the lack of new oil legislation in Baghdad and against the will of the Iraqi government. The Kurds are free to own property and enter Iraqi-controlled territory as they please, yet non-Kurdish Iraqi citizens, including government officials, cannot enter the Kurdish region without a Kurdish sponsor and are barred from buying property there. Kurdish politicians insisted on changing the Iraqi flag, regarded as a symbol of unity and nationalism by Iraqis, and they managed to get their way thanks to their allies in the now-defunct UIA, yet they still refuse to fly the new Iraqi flag over institutions in Iraqi Kurdistan, instead flying the flag of the Kurdish Mahabad Republic of Iran.

Also, ask any Iraqi Kurd about the actions of the Barzani clan, their immense corruption, and brutality in suppressing independent movements and the free Kurdish press, not to mention their role in political assassinations and subterfuge in Iraqi territories under their control. They can boast a human rights record that is comparable to that of any neighbouring Arab dictatorship. The fearsome Asayish, the KDP's intelligence agency, is often compared to the Mukhabarat under the Ba'athists. A few weeks ago, when the head of Mosul's operations, General Abd al-Karim Khalaf revealed the role of the Peshmerga in terrorist attacks and the abductions of members of Iraq's Christian community in Ninevah, several dozen Peshmerga fighters broke into his office, stripped him and his men of their weapons and physically assaulted him. The incident (conveniently ignored in the West) was largely reported in the Iraqi press, yet the central government did not even utter a word of protest.

All evidence shows that the two Kurdish gangs have no interest in committing to a strong, united Iraq, but instead to use their new post-war influence in Baghdad to achieve further gains for their region (or more accurately for their fiefdoms, as the Kurdish people still languish in poverty and neglect, while the majority of Iraqi asylum seekers abroad continue to come from Iraqi Kurdistan). This is not political partnership; it is political opportunism and parasitism at its worst form. It is time for this non-beneficial relationship with the two Kurdish gangs to end.