Iraq: coping with violence and striving to earn a living

March 31, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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In a variety of different ways, the ICRC has been helping Iraqi individuals and communities to be self-sufficient economically. This is an update on ICRC activities carried out in Iraq since the beginning of the year.

30-03-2010  Operational update  

The beginning of 2010 was marred by acts of violence that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, mainly in Baghdad, the central governorates and Najaf. In Mosul, families fled violence and sought refuge in safer areas. Although recent violence-related displacement has been sporadic, there remain some 2.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Iraq who had to leave their homes over recent years in search of safety.Many Iraqis, especially those worst affected by the effects of the conflict and the ongoing violence, such as displaced, elderly and disabled people and women heading households, continued to struggle to feed their families. Their inability to buy enough of the essential goods they require remains a major concern.

Agriculture, formerly an important part of the economy, has been declining for the past decade. Individuals who have lost agricultural machinery to damage, age or disrepair often cannot replace it owing to a lack of financial wherewithal. In addition, the water supply has been hard hit by a failure to properly maintain pumping stations and irrigation and distribution canals, by the unreliable electricity supply and by higher fuel costs. The massive increase in the price of seed and fertilizer, and cheap imports from neighbouring countries, also play a role in making farming difficult, if not impossible, in many parts of Iraq. Many farmers try to survive by cultivating smaller patches of land, but as they are forced to use low-quality supplies the result is often poor harvests. Others have migrated to cities in search of other ways of earning a living.

Continue Reading Iraq: coping with violence and striving to earn a living…

George Galloway MP interviewed by Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly (Video)

March 30, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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 North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly interviews George Galloway MP, leader of the RESPECT party in Britain on his views and opinions across a wide range of issues. The interview was part of a North Belfast Sinn Fein organised event ‘The Gerry Kelly Show’

 Part I


Did Iraq Just Elect a Mass-Murderer?

March 29, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Did Iraq Just Elect a Mass-Murderer?

By Joshua HollandAlterNet” — We can’t know whether the new Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, murdered six restrained men in cold blood while a mix of Iraqi and American guards looked on in shock.  

March 29, 2010 ”

What we do know is that Allawi was alleged to have committed the gruesome crime just before the “hand-over” of the government to Iraqi nationals in 2004 (he served as interim prime minister in Iraq’s transitional government). The allegations were made by an award-winning journalist in a major mainstream publication — Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald relying on two sources who confirmed details of the event independently of one another. 

We also know that the American media, with few exceptions, killed the story entirely. The few outlets that alluded to the charges did so with such a degree of skepticism — essentially accepting official denials (and half-denials) as the end of the matter — as to render it virtually meaningless.  

As a result, in 2004, with debate over the invasion of Iraq front and center around the world, the American public got a far different picture of the conflict — and the leaders George W. Bush installed in the fledgling Iraqi government — than the people of every other English-speaking country in the world. 

Here’s how Paul McGeough broke the story in the Herald, Australia’s leading daily: 

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. 

They say the prisoners — handcuffed and blindfolded — were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city’s south-western suburbs. 

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they “deserved worse than death”. 

The Prime Minister’s office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun. 

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, then Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that while he personally found the allegations “unbelievable,” he also thought that, “because they are written by a credible journalist, [then-Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer’s responsibility is to get the truth from the Australian embassy in Baghdad and from the government of the United States. It’s important that these matters are clarified.” 

In the UK, there were also calls for an inquiry. “It is vital that [the allegations] are cleared up one way or another and that needs an independent inquiry,” said former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who resigned his cabinet post over the Iraq war. 

Those calls went unheeded. Allawi was cleared of the charges in an investigation conducted by the subsequent Iraqi government under the auspices of President Ibrahim Al-Jafari. But that came during a period of unprecedented political upheaval and violence, and Allawi remained an influential MP in that government; his party, the Iraq National Accord, was the leading party in the Iraqi National List, which in turn was a key part of the governing coalition of Nouri al-Maliki at the time. Both the Iraqi government and the American forces in Iraq had every imaginable incentive to sweep the charges under the rug. 

While Allawi strenuously dismissed the charges, reports at the time suggested that rumors of the killings swirling around Baghdad actually enhanced Allawi’s reputation in some quarters as a strong leader who had the backbone to tame the insurgency then raging at full steam. 

U.S. Blackout 

In Scotland, the award-winning Sunday Herald ran its sister publication’s copy, as did the New Zealand Sunday Star Times, the Irish Examiner and Canada’s Toronto Post. The London Daily Mail and South Africa’s Sunday Mail (same ownership) ran a story with a similar lead, although the denial comes right up front: 

IRAQ’S new Prime Minister was fighting to clear his name last night after he was accused of executing as many as six suspected insurgents. 

Iyad Allawi is alleged to have shot the prisoners at a Baghdad police station days before power was handed to the interim Iraqi government last month… 

The story broke only to a limited degree in the United States. Newsweek had a brief report on the allegation and it also appeared on the UPI wire. In its usually direct way, UPI led with: “Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi killed six suspected insurgents just days before he was handed power, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.” 

But, according to a Lexis-Nexis search of the two-week period following the Herald’s bombshell, no major papers picked up the UPI story. The Los Angeles Times did run a piece under the headline: “Rumors circulate about Allawi’s itchy trigger finger,” which was republished by the Kansas City Star, the Baltimore Sun and the San Francisco Chronicle. This is how those papers’ readers got the story: 

There are many versions of the story on the street. In one, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is driving through downtown Baghdad and sees a frail old man being confronted by three armed men attempting to steal his vehicle. 

Allawi leaps out of his car and shoots dead the would-be carjackers. 

In another, Allawi is in a Baghdad jail where he interviews suspects, hears their confessions, declares “they deserve to die” and shoots them on the spot. 

A third version sets the scene of his violent retribution in the Shiite city of Najaf, which has been racked by violence in recent months. 

Is there any truth to these tales that Allawi has shot suspects? The stories have been denied by Allawi and dismissed by members of his government, the U.S. Embassy and a State Department spokesman. 

On the last point, Scotland’s Sunday Herald reported: “Senior US officials have not made an outright dismissal of the allegations….”

The New York Sun, a conservative alternative paper, ran the only other U.S. story that came back from a Lexis-Nexis search. It reported the allegations were thought unlikely because of Allawi’s character. The Sun’s lead was: “Iraq’s top human rights official said yesterday allegations that Prime Minister Allawi summarily executed six prisoners before taking power is a baseless smear spread to undermine the government.” 

That was based on a Federal News Service interview with Iraq’s Human Rights Minister Bakhtiya Amin, in which he said: “This is not the Iyad Allawi that I know. He’s not a killer. And he’s not the type of person who goes out killing people.” 

It’s an odd line of defense in light of the fact that, as Douglas Valentine wrote in Counterpunch: “According to published reports, Allawi began his career in the killing business in the 1960s on behalf of Saddam Hussein; but in 1978, he switched to the CIA after Hussein tried to kill him. In 1991 Allawi co-founded an anti-Saddam, CIA-front organization, the Iraqi National Accord (INA), which the New York Times described as ‘a terrorist organization.’” When he assumed the office of interim Prime Minister, some European papers routinely refer to Allawi as a “former assassin,” or in similar terms. 

At least readers of the L.A. Times and the other three papers that ran its story knew that a rumor about Allawi killing the prisoners was out there. That put them ahead of readers of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and every other major daily, who heard nothing of the matter. 

I sent the original Sydney Morning Herald story to Daniel Okrent, the New York Times’ public editor at the time, with a note that read: “Clearly, the story that follows is not flattering. But it is just as clearly newsworthy and nobody’s covering it.” 

Okrent’s assistant sent me a link to a Times story titled: “A Tough Guy Tries to Tame Iraq.” The story was about “rumor and innuendo” that Allawi was “overseeing the interrogation of a cabal of Lebanese terrorists” when he said “Bring me an ax,” and then “lopped off the hand of one of the Lebanese men.” It’s a nasty story, yes, but not quite the same. 

And while there may be several stories out there, only one was reported by a respected journalist, Paul McGeough, in one of a close ally’s leading newspapers. McGeough, while acknowledging that in Iraq “It’s very difficult to separate out what people are telling you from what they are hearing,” stood behind his reporting in an interview with the Australian news show, “Lateline”:

MAXINE McKEW: Paul, as you’ve also made clear in your article, Prime Minister Allawi has flatly denied this story. Why then is the Herald so confident about publishing it? 

PAUL McGEOUGH, ‘SYDNEY MORNING HERALD’ AND ‘AGE’ FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well it’s a very contentious issue. What you have is two very solid eyewitness accounts of what happened at a police security complex in a southwest Baghdad suburb. They are very detailed. They were done separately. Each witness is not aware that the other spoke. They were contacted through personal channels rather than through the many political, religious or military organisations working in Baghdad that might be trying to spin a tale. And they’ve laid it out very carefully and very clearly as to what they saw. 

MAXINE McKEW: You haven’t identified these witnesses but why have they felt free to talk about such an extraordinary story? 

PAUL McGEOUGH: Well, they were approached through personal connections and as a result of that, they accepted assurances. They were guaranteed anonymity, they were told that no identifying material would be published on them and they told what they saw. 

Again, can’t know if the Allawi story is true. We only that it has never been fully investigated, and that the citizens of Australia, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Canada and South Africa had a view of the Iraqi Interim Government that Americans did not share.  

That disconnect was striking, and led to stories like the one in Pakistan’s Daily Times under the headline: “US Media Kills Story that Iraqi PM Executed 6 Prisoners.”

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute

The Sadrist Watershed Confirmed

March 29, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The Sadrist Watershed Confirmed

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 29 March 2010 13:04

The allocation of seats to individuals released by IHEC today confirms the growing strength of the Sadrists within the mainly Shiite Iraqi National Alliance (INA). The Sadrist position has in fact been consolidated in the final allocation (where the female quota has been taken into account), leaving it with 39 deputies which is 57% of the 68 INA deputies confirmed at the individual level. Additionally, depending on a decision by the federal supreme court, they may get two more seats since IHEC regulation 21 awards the compensation seats (two are due to INA) to those vote-getters with the highest number of votes that failed to achieve representation.

  Sadr Badr ISCI Jaafari Fadila Other
Basra 3 1     2 1
Maysan 3 1     1 1
Dhi Qar 4 2 1   2  
Muthanna 2 1        
Qadisiyya 2 1 2      
Babel 3 1 1      
Najaf 3 1       1
Karbala 2   1      
Wasit 3         1*
Baghdad 12   2 1 1 1
Diyala 2 1        
Nineveh     1      
Total 39 9 8 1 6 5


It is worth mentioning that the main competitor of the Sadrists within INA – ISCI and Badr, who now emerge weakened with no more than around 17 seats altogether – will be watching (and maybe pressing) the court on the issue of compensation seats, since it benefitted enormously from the old arrangement back in 2005, whereby it received no less than a third of its 30 parliamentary seats through “compensation seats” awarded by the party leadership without reference to the preferences of the electorate. In this way, many ISCI representatives in the previous parliament received their seats on the basis of no more than a few hundred votes in obscure locations (from a Shiite point of view) like Anbar. Other significant INA developments include the complete marginalisation of Jaafari (only he himself won a seat), along with a slight improvement on the part of Fadila, helped mainly by the female quota.

Intra-list re-ordering of candidates is somewhat less systematic with respect to other entities. It is however noteworthy that much of the attempt by Nuri al-Maliki to build bridges to Sunnis and secularists by welding together a diverse list has been reversed by the electorate in places like Baghdad. Many Westerners hailed Maliki for bringing Sunnis and secularists like Hajim al-Hasani, Abad Mutlak al-Jibburi, Abd al-Qadir al-Ubaydi, Mahdi al-Hafiz and Izzat al-Shabandar into his camp; however with less than a thousand votes each, they have all been demoted to non-winning positions on the Baghdad list for State of Law.

At some point, it is likely that the new balance of power within INA will make an impact on the dynamics of coalition formation. It is noteworthy that several Sadrists have been positive in their public comments about Allawi in the past few days.

Iraq: National Unity Government Or Return To Sectarianism?

March 29, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Iraq: National Unity Government Or Return To Sectarianism?

By Juan Cole

29 March, 2010

Patrick Martin of the Toronto Globe and Mail gets the diction right when he says that Iyad Allawi’s list won a thin plurality. The official results of the March 7 Iraqi parliamentary elections have been announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission. Of 325 seats, 91 went to the National Iraqi List (“Iraqiya”) of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi. The State of Law grouping of incumbent Nuri al-Maliki came in at 89. The Shiite fundamentalist coalition, the Iraqi National Alliance, which includes the followers of clerics Ammar al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr, garnered 70 seats. The Kurdistan Alliance won only 43 seats.

That leaves 33 seats in the hands of smaller parties, many of them wild cards.

Shortly before the results were announced, two large bomb blasts in Khalis, in Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad, killed 53 persons. Diyala is still the site of violent struggle between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

Continue Reading Iraq: National Unity Government Or Return To Sectarianism?…

Atil Inac’s Turkish drama “A Step into the Darkness”

March 28, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Atil Inac’s Turkish drama A Step into the Darkness (above) topped the Tiburon International Film Festival’s Golden Reel Awards, announced on March 26 in the Northern California town of Tiburon. [See full list of Tiburon 2010 winners.]

Initially set in Northern Iraq, A Step into the Darkness follows a young Turkmen woman (Suzan Genç), the only survivor of an American raid that left all her fellow villagers dead, as she attempts to reach her ailing brother in Turkey. Once in Istanbul, instead of finding her sibling, the young woman becomes enmeshed with a radical Islamic group.

“Irak is met opzet vernietigd”

March 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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“Irak is met opzet vernietigd”

door Ludo De Brabander

Naar aanleiding van de Iraakse nationale verkiezingen van maart en de aangekondigde terugtrekking van de Amerikaanse troepen, blikken we met een van de drijvende krachten van het BRussells Tribunal terug op de turbulente geschiedenis van het land de jongste decennia.

Dirk Adriaensens geraakte bij Irak betrokken nadat in augustus 1990 een embargo tegen het land werd afgekondigd.


Dat was de aanleiding voor de oprichting van ‘SOS Irak’ waarvan hij de coördinator zou worden. Er trokken toen verschillende betogingen door Brussel, die tegen de nakende oorlog waren gericht, maar waarbij het gros van de manifestanten het embargo steunde. In 1992 trok hij voor een eerste keer naar Irak op uitnodiging van de Iraakse Vrouwenfederatie. In 1994 schreven ze met een aantal prominente namen, onder wie Raymond van het Groenewoud, hun ervaringen neer in een boek, ‘Rendez-vous in Bagdad’. Hij keerde daarna nog vele keren terug naar Irak. Kort na de Amerikaans-Britse invasie ontmoette hij professor Lieven De Cauter, die toen steun zocht voor de oprichting van het ‘BRussells Tribunal’, dat in 2004 een reeks van hoorzittingen zou organiseren over de oorlogspolitiek van de neoconservatieven in Washington, verenigd in het Project voor een Nieuwe Amerikaanse Eeuw (PNAC). Nadien liet het BRussell Tribunal van zich horen met een opmerkelijke internationale campagne tegen de golf van moorden en verdwijningen van honderden Iraakse academici. Dirk Adriaensens schreef daarover twee bijdragen in een boek met de titel ‘Cultural Cleansing in Iraq’ (PlutoPress, 2009).

Continue Reading “Irak is met opzet vernietigd”…

The Uncertified Election Results: Allawi Comes Out on Top

March 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The Uncertified Election Results: Allawi Comes Out on Top


By Reidar Visser (

26 March 2010

The Iraqi elections commission, IHEC, has today released the full, uncertified results of the 7 March parliamentary elections. The distribution of the seats has been specified at the entity level for all the 325 deputies in the next assembly.

The differences with the situation as reported in earlier counts (and calculated in accordance with IHEC regulation 21) are minimal. The secular-nationalist Iraqiyya (INM) comes out on top with 91 seats, followed by State of Law (SLA) headed by Nuri al-Maliki second at 89 seats, the Iraqi National Alliance at 70 seats and the Kurdistan Alliance at 43 seats (having apparently made some serious headway in the final count). The distribution of minority seats was apparently on the pattern forecasted previously. The full distribution of seats is as follows:

  INA SLA INM Unity of Iraq Tawafuq Kurdistan Alliance Other Kurdish Minority
Basra 7 14 3          
Maysan 6 4            
Dhi Qar 9 8 1          
Muthanna 3 4            
Qadisiyya 5 4 2          
Babel 5 8 3          
Najaf 5 7            
Karbala 3 6 1          
Wasit 4 5 2          
Baghdad 17 26 24   1     2
Anbar     11 1 2      
Salahaddin     8 2 2      
Diyala 3 1 8     1    
Nineveh 1   20 1 1 8   3
Kirkuk     6     6   1
Arbil           10 4 1
Dahuk           9 1 1
Sulaymaniya           8 9  
Total + compen-sation (C) 68+2C 87+2C 89+2C 4 6 42+1C 14 8

The names of the winning candidates (based on how the electorate used the open-list option to promote individuals within a list) have yet to be published; this will be done at the IHEC website and in Iraqi newspapers tomorrow. The identity of the winners of the seven compensation seats (two for each of the three big lists and one for the Kurdish list) will be withheld pending a query to the federal supreme court about the rules for their allocation to individuals.

Ayad Allawi and Iraqiyya now go strengthened into the coalition-forming process. By winning more seats than expected south of Baghdad and almost as many seats as Maliki in Baghdad, Allawi has proved that he is more than “the candidate of the Sunnis” (which was always implausible given his own Shiite background). However, the two parties that are closest to each other on many key constitutional issues (and maybe the most promising combination to get an oil law passed anytime soon), Iraqiyya and State of Law, remain at odds with each other mainly due to differences at the personal level between their leaders. In this kind of situation, probably the most logical step for Iraqiyya would be to explore the possibility of a deal with the Kurds that balances some solid concessions to Arbil with preservation of Iraqi nationalist ideals as far as the structure of government south of Kurdistan is concerned. Additional support could come either from Shiite Islamists who share the view of Iraqiyya on the importance of a centralised state in the rest of Iraq (for example the Sadrists), or, alternatively, all the small blocs in parliament joined together with Iraqiyya and the Kurds (166 seats). It is to be hoped that the ideologically contradictive scheme of a deal with ISCI (the pro-Iranian decentralist Shiite party with which Iraqiyya only shares certain ties at the personal level) will be avoided, since it would mean another oversized, ineffective government populated by parties with little in common. At any rate, ISCI now has diminishing clout within INA.

Also, some uncertainty has been added to the mix due to a ruling by the federal supreme court yesterday which explicitly makes it clear that the key definition of “the largest bloc in parliament” (which is supposed to form the next government) can also include post-election bloc formation. This in turn breathes new life into the scenario preferred by Iran of the two Shiite-led blocs, INA and SLA, joining together to a single big entity, on the pattern of what happened in 2004/2005. Talks about this has come to the fore again over the last weeks as Maliki gradually realised that his ambition of going it alone, separate from the other Shiites, was not going to be fulfilled quite in the way he had foreseen. It would, however, require considerable recalibration within Shiite circles, since the Sadrists are likely to overshadow ISCI in the INA contingent, and they are not known to be keen on a second Maliki premiership. Nonetheless, the mere fact that this option is now being talked about at all signifies the big irony of these elections: Ali Faysal al-Lami, the de-Baathification director, both lost and won them to some extent. He got just a few hundred personal votes for INA in Baghdad, and will not win a seat in parliament. But through his witch hunt he forced Maliki into a more sectarian corner, and thereby prevented him from winning much-needed support north of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the next procedural step is of a simpler character: The results will have to be formally certified in the Iraqi legal system. Only then will the clock for government formation start ticking in a formal sense. Upon certification of the results, the current president, Jalal Talabani, must call on the new national assembly to convene within fifteen days. At that point, the council will have to elect a speaker with two deputies. In theory, that election is separate from the government formation, although it seems likely that whoever is forming the next government will want allies to fill those posts: With the control of the parliamentary agenda that comes with them, they are going to be more important during the next four years than the office of the president, which now becomes a more ceremonial position. The new president, in turn, is to be elected within 30 days of the first parliamentary meeting. The constitution stipulates an aspiration of a two thirds majority for the election of the president but allows for a simple-majority run-off in case that requirement should prove elusive. This in turn means that it is the 163 mark that needs to be met in order to secure the election of the president and thereby get the government-formation process on track in earnest, with a deadline of another fifteen days for the president to formally charge the nominee of the biggest parliamentary bloc to form a government within another thirty days. In other words, if certification takes place around 1 April, a meeting of the new parliament must be held within 15 April, a new president must be elected within 15 May, a PM nominee must be identified by 1 June, and a new cabinet must be presented for approval of parliament before 1 July. The psychological deadline is likely to be the start of Ramadan around 10 August and the scheduled completion of withdrawal of US combat troops by 31 August.

Iraq’s Elections -The Pro-Kurdish Minority Vote

March 26, 2010 at 10:26 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The Pro-Kurdish Minority Vote

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 25 March 2010 11:48

The big question concerning the 8 minority seats in the next Iraqi parliament is just how pro-Kurdish their occupants will be. Admittedly, of course, the 8 minority seats, representing around 60,000 votes and just about 2.5% of all the deputies in the next parliament, are somewhat marginal to the overall result. Nonetheless, with Iraq on its way to an extremely complicated government-formation process, every little bloc will be of significance – and with the small numbers involved it seems safe to assume that the 96% count can provide a reliable prognosis of what the minority-seat distribution will look like.

The answer to the question of Kurdish influence on the minority representatives seems to be 3 very pro-Kurdish, 3 quite pro-Kurdish, one anti-Kurdish and one uncommitted. Three of the seats are tied to a particular governorate – a Sabaean seat for Baghdad and seats for the Shabak and Yazidis in Nineveh. The Sabaean seat will go to Khalid Amin Rumi, who reportedly enjoys the support of the traditional religious establishment of the Sabaeans. In Nineveh, however, the Kurdish question comes into play. Kurdish nationalists prefer to define both the Yazidis and Shabak as “Kurds” but significant forces within those communities, in turn, would rather like to emphasise separate (and in some cases explicitly non-Kurdish) identities.

As a result of this situation, the Kurdish leadership has previously argued for a multiplication of seats for these minorities in the hope that some of them will be filled by pro-Kurdish representatives (which are heavily financed by the KRG), as seen in the attempt to ensure a greater minority quota in the provincial election law in the autumn of 2008. Conversely, anti-Kurdish forces in Iraqi politics have sought to limit the seats to one per minority (to avoid Kurdish financing of what is seen as “artificial” placemen that speak in the name of the community in question but in reality owe their position to the KRG), and were successful in this in the final iteration of the provincial elections law as well as in elections law adopted last autumn. However, even though the result is very close, it now seems the Kurds have been able to replace the anti-Kurdish Hunayn al-Qaddo (around 10,000 votes) with a pro-KRG candidate (around 11,000 votes). Among the Yazidis, however, the seat will go to a party that has a history of challenging the Kurdish claim for national leadership over the Yazidis.

The remaining five seats are for Iraq’s Christian communities. Originally, they were set aside for the five governorates with largest Christian populations (Baghdad, Nineveh, Tamim, Arbil, Dahuk) but during the final vote on the election law Christian leaders already represented in the existing parliament secured a last-minute addition stipulating a single constituency for all of Iraq. This had the effect of maximising the ethno-sectarian aspect of the vote, since Christians everywhere will vote for representatives that may well live outside their home governorate, with the sectarian identity as their only tie. Also, those Christians who do well at the aggregate communitarian level will easily prevail over candidates with more local ties whose support base is limited to a particular governorate.

  Percentage counted 389Kanna 390Aghajan 391 392 393 394 395  
Basra 97 218 461 1219 235 237 93 44 2507
Maysan 98 110 69 60 146 219 38 59 701
Dhi Qar 97 352 578 86 131 131 43 30 1351
Muthanna 98 119 228 68 119 53 35 26 648
Qadisiyya 97 110 61 100 306 362 85 59 1083
Babel 96 191 446 572 90 151 54 71 1575
Najaf 98 118 51 79 189 357 63 24 881
Karbala 97 91 71 236 466 93 44 43 1044
Wasit 99 109 223 454 42 87 90 47 1052
Baghdad (1) 95 4538 2312 443 472 475 585 200 9025
Anbar 94 327 88 78 78 61 48 6 686
Salahaddin 95 131 416 124 87 47 50 19 874
Diyala 94 91 117 61 744 173 72 20 1278
Nineveh (1) 94 6080 7916 726 567 267 659 3452 19667
Kirkuk (1) 90 1447 396 378 108 78 133 49 2589
Arbil (1) 95 1708 2137 520 267 110 211 37 4990
Dahuk (1) 96 5728 3129 244 716 234 362 64 10477
Sulimaniya 93 252 64 40 187 106 40 36 725
    21720 18763 5488 4950 3241 2705 4286 61153

***The Christian vote on 7 March, 96% count

The results demonstrate these effects very clearly. With a total participation of around 60,000, there will be an electoral divider of around 12,000 per seat. Looking at the results, only two big lists are anywhere near securing seats under this system: The Rafidayn list (389) headed by Yunadim Kanna, and the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian list led by Sarkis Aghajan (390), probably with 3 seats to the former and 2 seats to the latter, and with the other five lists unrepresented. It is particularly noteworthy that the two winning lists perform poorly south of Baghdad, where other lists do well but have no chance of winning seats due to the single-constituency arrangement in which their local majorities disappear in the final count. Another local challenger in Nineveh (John Joseph, 395) also loses out due to the concentration of his vote in a single governorate.

In terms of relations with the Kurds, both Kanna and Aghajan have a history of doing business with Arbil. Kanna used to have a close relationship with the KRG but more recently has tried to create more balanced relations with Baghdad. Accordingly, it is Aghajan that is today seen as the “KDP choice”. For sure, members of the exiled community of Assyrians, which is strong in the United States, criticise both leaders for sell-out to the Kurds and a failure to insist on the scheme for a separate Assyrian state in the north. But while both leaders have voiced an interest in using federalism to designate some kind of homeland for the Christians in a territorial enclave, Kanna has apparently gravitated towards the idea of an arrangement with Baghdad whereas Aghajan supporters have talked about annexation of parts of Nineveh to the KRG and decentralisation on that basis. (It has to be added that neither scheme is constitutional, since only governorates can serve as basis for new federal entities.)

The big losers in this, thanks not least to the election system, are the traditional forces among Iraqi Christians that have emphasised the religious aspect of Christian identity instead of the ethno-sectarian one, and coexistence instead of a quest for federal solutions. Historically, those forces were strongest among the long-established Chaldean community. However, ever since the arrival of the Nestorian refugees from Hakkari after the First World War and their project of imposing an Assyrian national agenda on all Christians of Iraq, the Chaldeans have been at disadvantage, despite their numerical strength. In the 1920s and 1930s, the British favoured the Nestorian Assyrians by using them as levies and in high positions in the security forces. After 2003, Paul Bremer sidelined the Chaldeans and promoted Assyrian leaders because his mathematical model of proportional representation allowed space for one Christian only and the Assyrians were loudest! Today, the preference for Chaldean-oriented lists in places like Basra can be confirmed in the election result, but the rules of the game mean that this will not be sufficient to challenge Assyrian hegemony within the Christian community as a whole. Of course, had it not been for the single constituency, Christian voters outside the five governorates with designated minority seats would simply have voted like other Iraqi voters, with Iraqiyya and State of Law as the most like competitors among this segment.

All in all, the Kurds probably benefited most from the minority vote, since the 3 deputies that will be firmly in their camp represent less than 30,000 voters, or less than an average seat in the competition over ordinary seats. The full results are expected Friday evening.

Oil Companies–Some Run by Former Bush Officials–Make a Risky Move Into Kurdistan

March 26, 2010 at 1:30 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Oil Companies–Some Run by Former Bush Officials–Make a Risky Move Into Kurdistan

By Joshua Hammer


April 1, 2010

The Tawke oil field, just south of Iraq’s mountainous border with Turkey, is a bare, windblown patch of hills in one of the Middle East’s most isolated corners.

Three hundred miles north of Baghdad, it is also four hours by road from the nearest international airfield and hundreds of miles from the nearest seaport. But on April 12, 2005, more than 100 dignitaries from around the world trooped up to this bleak turf to observe a bit of history. One year earlier, a scrappy Norwegian oil company called DNO had become the first foreign business since the U.S. — led invasion of Iraq, in March 2003, to purchase oil-drilling rights in the Kurdistan region; defying skeptics, the Norwegians had shipped in millions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure and equipment, built an oil workers’ camp, and brought in technicians from the Philippines, India, and Scandinavia. Now DNO had invited Kurdish officials, local luminaries, and assorted friends of the region to witness the launch of the first exploratory oil well on Kurdish soil in two decades.

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