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Kurds Fear ‘Arabization’ of Iraq’s Kirkuk

Kurds Fear ‘Arabization’ of Iraq’s Kirkuk

Sunday, 5 November, 2017 - 10:30
A member of Iraqi security forces takes down the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk, Iraq. (Reuters)
Al-Sulaimaniya – Sherzad Shikhani
It appears that the Iraqi federal authority's recapturing of Kirkik from Kurdish control has not ended the disputes that have plagued the oil-rich region since the collapse of the former regime.

Successive governments have failed to resolve differences between the region’s population of Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs. Signs of a new crisis erupting began to emerge with Kurds voicing their concern with Arabs and Turkmen seizing public posts at their expense and with the support of the Iraqi government.

Members of the Kurdish council in the region voiced their fears that Iraqi authorities would continue the process of “Arabizing” the province amid the absence of a Kurdish governor and the unlikelihood that the post will be filled any time soon.

The Kurdish governor, Najmeddine Karim, had fled Kirkuk in wake of the Iraqi forces’ October operation to regain control of the region.

Council member Ahmed al-Askari told Kurdish media that the absence of this governor is being exploited once again by some sides to once again launch the “Arabization” policy that was adopted by the previous regime of Saddam Hussein.

Asharq Al-Awsat could not confirm his claims of “Arabization.”

“Baghdad has started the process and the government issued a decree allowing Arab Shi’ites to transfer their jobs to Kirkuk,” Askari said.

They have also been allowed to change their personal status to Kirkuk and allowed Kurds to transfer their status outside the province, he continued.

Turkmen officials in the province agreed with the Kurdish view on the latest developments in Kirkuk despite their opposition to the actions of Karim.

Turkman official Hassan Touran told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We oppose any demographic change in the province, whether in ‘Arabization’ as practiced by the old regime or ‘Kurdization’ as adopted by the former governor.”

He instead voiced his support for coexistence in the region, demanding that normalization measures be put in place so that all locals can live together in peace.

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