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>Ninewa Struggles Between Arabs and Kurds Continue

>Disputes over the results of the January 2009 provincial elections are continuing in troubled Ninewa. The al-Hadbaa party walked away with 19 of the province’s 37 seats. They made a deal with the Islamic Party that won three seats to take all of the top positions such as governor, head of council, and their deputies. As a result, the Kurdish alliance is boycotting the government. Not only that but the Sinjar, Shikhan, and Hatra districts all said they will refuse to work with the al-Hadbaa led government. The head of Sinjar said he would only take orders from Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. Those areas also demanded that they be annexed by Kurdistan unless the Kurdish List was given positions in the new provincial administration. The Kurds have also staged street protests there as well. Al-Hadbaa’s leaders have been no less compromising asking the government to send a new division to the province to take the place of the Kurdish peshmerga, and threatening repercussions for the district leaders that refuse to work with the council.

The dispute is becoming national as well as Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani criticized the Arabs for monopolizing all of the council spots in mid-April. The Kurdish Alliance in parliament also warned of a rising autocracy in Ninewa, and demanded that al-Hadbaa share power. The Kurds have began using a common refrain against their opponents by calling al-Hadbaa Baathists, and tried to link their actions with Maliki’s drive for power in Baghdad. Al-Hadbaa’s leader and new governor of Ninewa Atheel al-Najafi replied that officials from the Kurdish Regional Government should not be interfering in the province’s affairs.

The Kurds took power in Ninewa in 2005 because the Sunnis boycotted the elections. In 2009 the al-Hadbaa party not only ran on an anti-Kurdish platform, but also promised better government and development. As a result 60% of the province’s voters turned out, tied for the third highest in the country. American officials told the New York Times that they expect al-Hadbaa to become more pragmatic because Ninewa is so poor and lacks resources, but that’s hard to believe. With a majority in the council and a Prime Minister eager to pressure the Kurds there’s little reason for the party to compromise.

SOURCES

Alsumaria, “Kurdistan PM criticizes Hadbaa List,” 4/23/09
- “Yazidis call to join Sinjar to Kurdistan,” 4/15/09

Associated Press, “Iraqi provincial election results,” 2/19/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “Kurdish lawmaker warns against autocracy,” 4/20/09
- “Lawmaker urges KRG to avoid escalating tension in Mosul,” 4/23/09
- “Mosulians fear political tension effect on council’s performance,” 4/27/09
- “Tribal chiefs, notables in Makhmour want Asayesh forces out,” 4/25/09

Kamal, Adel, “kurdish boycott threatens ninawa stability,” Niqash, 4/27/09

Reilly, Corinne and Abbas, Ali, “Kurdish-Arab tensions continue to grow in northern Iraq,” McClatchy Newspapers, 4/14/09

Reuters, “Tensions rise in Iraq’s Mosul amid Kurdish boycott,” 4/22/09

Robertson, Campbell and Farrell, Stephen, “Iraqi Sunnis Turn to Politics and Renew Strength,” New York Times, 4/18/09

Tyson, Ann Scott and Raghavan, Sudarsan, “Gates Cautiously Upbeat on Iraq,” Washington Post, 12/6/07

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Joel Wing

a blogger at Musings on Iraq

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