Tags: Lack of Security in Iraq
Posted on IRAQ TODAY
Reported Security Incidents
Further information is available on the attack yesterday on Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The death toll is now reported as 1 worker. “Dr. Abdul Jabbar al-Halfi, a professor at Basra University’s oil engineering department and frequent visitor to the Beiji refinery, pointed out that visitors to Beiji need a special badge to even get within a mile (2 kilometers) of the facility and suggested it might have been an inside job.” Technicians say they can get the facility back on line in one week. [We shall see.] Meanwhile, the refinery accounts for 1/4 of Iraq’s fuel production and the incident could exacerbate the electricity shortage which contributes to current unrest.
Other News of the Day
Meanwhile, PM Nuri al-Maliki takes decisive action in response to the demonstrations, (not). He gives his cabinet ministers 100 days to shape up or he’ll give them a negative evaluation. [That should put an end to any further unrest. — C] Protest organizers are calling for a national “Day of Regret” on Friday, March 4 to mark the anniversary of the parliamentary elections,which have so far failed to produce effective government.
Tags: Articles de Gilles Munier, Nation Arabe
Où va la Nation Arabe? Interview de Gilles Munier par Oumma.com (24/2/11) : http://oumma.com/Ou-va-l-Egypte-Ou-va-la-Nation
Comment voyez-vous l’évolution politique en Egypte après le départ de Mourarak?
La question que tous les amis du peuple égyptien se posent est de savoir si le Conseil suprême des forces armées tiendra ses engagements jusqu’au bout. Le passé du maréchal Muhammad Hussein Tantaoui, 75 ans, qui le dirige, ne plaide pas en faveur du changement. Il a été nommé ministre de la Défense après sa participation, comme chef d’Etat-major, à la guerre du Golfe de 1991 aux côtés des Américains, et est un des principaux soutiens d’Israël au sein des forces armées égyptiennes. Au début du soulèvement, il était à Washington pour élaborer, avec ses officiers, des scénarii permettant de canaliser la colère populaire. De retour au Caire, il est resté en contact téléphonique, pendant toute le crise, avec son « ami » Robert Gates, chef du Pentagone et ancien directeur de la CIA. Quels plans ont-ils échafaudés ensemble ? On sera vite fixé. L’avenir dira si les Egyptiens acceptent les modifications de la constitution qui seront proposées, si les élections annoncées seront libres et si les médias paraîtront, sans crainte d’être censurés. Attendons la suite des événements, mais il y a de quoi être pessimiste à court terme.
Qui est le véritable Omar Souleiman ?
En Egypte, Omar Souleiman est détesté. Il a sur les mains le sang de milliers d’opposants morts sous la torture. Il était « l’homme clé de la CIA» en Egypte, chargé d’interroger les suspects kidnappéspar l’agence américaine dans le monde. En tant que chef de l’EGIS – le principal service secret égyptien – il mettait, comme on dit, « la main à la pâte ». Par exemple, il a torturé personnellement Mamdouh Habib, de nationalité australienne, arrêté au Pakistan en 2001. Dans son livre My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, le supplicié, enfermé dans une prison secrète de la CIA en Egypte, affirme l’avoir reconnu et raconte qu’il a été « électrocuté, noyé, et pendu à des crochets métalliques ». Omar Souleiman a également interrogé Ibn al-Sheikh Al-Libi, un proche d’Oussama Ben Laden, livré lui aussi par la CIA. Un rapport du Sénat américain rapporte qu’Ibn al-Sheikh Al-Libi était enfermé dans une cage et battu. A l’époque, les Etats-Unis avaient besoin de « preuves » de relations entre Saddam Hussein et Oussama ben Laden, pour justifier l’invasion de l’Irak. Le militant ayant « avoué », sous la torture, cela a permis à Colin Powell de déclarer aux Nations unies, en février 2003, que des membres d’Al-Qaïda avaient été entraînés en Irak à l’utilisation d’armes chimiques et biologiques. Expulsé et incarcéré ensuite en Libye, son pays d’origine, Ibn al-Sheikh s’est « suicidé » dans sa cellule, en mai 2009, au cours d’un séjour effectué par Souleiman à Tripoli. Le 9 février dernier, le quotidien israélien Yediot Aharonot, présentait Omar Souleiman comme « l’homme de la stabilité ». C’est un des artisans du blocus de Gaza. Il faisait la chasse aux Palestiniens soupçonnés de sympathie pour le Hamas. Voilà succinctement qui est Omar Souleiman. Le Conseil suprême des forces armées l’a mis sur la touche. Tant mieux. Les Egyptiens l’ont échappé bel : un télégramme diplomatique américain datant de mai 2007, révélé par WikiLeaks, en faisait le successeur idéal d’Hosni Moubarak ; un autre, datant de 2008, le candidat préféré d’Israël. J’espère que ce tortionnaire sera jugé, un jour, pour ses crimes.
Quel est le niveau d’intervention des Etats-Unis dans les évènements actuels en Egypte?
Tags: Human Rights in Iraq
Human Rights Watch:
At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years After the US-Led Invasion
Tags: Iraqis demonstrate, Iraqis demonstrate against government
Tags: Dr Hicran Kazanci, ITF, ITF Turkey
Iraq: Clashes between the original Turkmen inhabitants of Beshir and the Arabs who were installed on their ancestral lands by the Ba’ath regime in the 1980s.February 15, 2011 at 2:00 am | Posted in Turkmens | 1 Comment
Tags: Beshir, Clashes in Beshir, Hassan Aydinli, Preamble Iraqi Constitution
Clashes between the original Turkmen inhabitants of Beshir * and the Arab immigrants who were installed in the area by the Ba’ath regime in the 1980s in order to arabise the Turkmen region of Kerkuk.
* Note: The ordeals of the Turkmens of Beshir are mentioned in the Preamble of the Iraqi Constitution together with the tragedy of the Arabs of Al-Dujail and the massacre of the Kurds of Halabja. (Please see below).
On Friday 11th February 2011, several news agencies reported that three people were killed due to “a tribal dispute between Turkmen and Arab tribes in Beshir” and that eight people were wounded, but these reports did not give the reasons which are at the origin of this incident.
For the reader to understand why Turkmens demonstrated against the construction of houses by Arab immigrants in Beshir it is necessary to give some details about the tragic history of this Turkmen village.
Beshir is a large Turkmen agricultural village of more than 7.500 inhabitants, it is situated 20 km to the South West of Kerkuk city. The inhabitants of Beshir were landowners and farmers, they cultivated their lands and produced cereals, fruit and vegetables, they also raised livestock, mainly ovine and bovine. Their ancestors had settled in the area and built the village several centuries ago.
During the Ottoman rule and after decades of cultivating their lands, Beshir’s inhabitants had registered their lands officially in their names and they were issued official land property certificates or “deeds”, which they renewed during the early years of the newly founded Iraqi state in 1921.
In the early 1980s, after the start of the Iraq-Iran war, and despite the enrolment of several hundreds of young Turkmens from Beshir in the army to fight against Iran, the Iraqi security forces arrested hundreds of intellectuals from Beshir accusing them of being activists in the outlawed Islamic Da’wa Party, over one hundred of these Turkmen intellectuals were later executed.
Forced displacement of population is a crime against humanity
In 1986, while the young men of Beshir were fighting on the front in the war against Iran, their families were subjected to terrible human rights abuses by the Iraqi regime: they were given 48 hours to pack their personal effects and leave their homes and were forcibly moved to some communal compounds which had been built in a rush to serve as ‘transitional residence’ on the road to Tikrit.
Their houses were razed to the ground and their agricultural lands were confiscated and were later given to Arabs brought by the Ba’ath regime from the centre and south of Iraq, and to neighbouring Arab tribes, in application of a policy designed to arabise Turkmen towns and villages in Kerkuk province.
Each of these Arab families were given 10.000 Iraqi Dinars in cash (equivalent to 30.000 USD) as incentive to build their house on Turkmen lands, while the unfortunate Turkmens were displaced without any valid reason or any legal justification and without receiving any compensation.
After a year spent in the communal compounds almost all the Turkmen families from Beshir were dispersed to several cities throughout Iraq, i.e. Basra, Diyala, Erbil, Kut etc. without being provided with housing and without being compensated for the loss of their livelihoods, houses and agricultural lands. From being landowners and farmers they became refugees in their own country and were left completely destitute.
Meanwhile the former regime had arabised the name of the village calling it “Al-Bashir” instead of Beshir.
In April 2003 when the U.S. military occupied the north of Iraq they did not take control of the area around Beshir and the Arabs which had been installed there by the previous regime remained in the village. The original Turkmen inhabitants of Beshir started to return demanding their lands, but the Arabs refused to budge.
As the displaced Turkmens threatened to march on the village in order to remove the immigrant Arabs by force the U.S. occupation authorities intervened, they led and controlled a “mediation” in September 2003, but this mediation did not settle the property dispute it was only a ‘short-term agreement’ which allowed the Arab families living in Beshir to stay on the land for the Winter agricultural season on a non-renewable basis, it granted them the Winter harvest. The requirement was that they would leave the village within one year of the signing of the ‘agreement’. After this one year period the Turkmens who were the original inhabitants of Beshir would be allowed to return on their ancestral lands.
7 years have passed since this ‘agreement’ and the Arabs still refuse to leave Beshir and return the lands to their original Turkmen owners. To make things worse they have now started to build more houses on Turkmen lands.
Note: The Arabs who were given Turkmen lands + a sum of 10,000 Iraqi Dinars to build their houses + agricultural lands belonging to the Turkmens (in the 1980s) and who accept to leave are now entitled to an additional sum of money from the Iraqi government to help them return to the region they came from.
Turkmens continue to be victims of discrimination.
On 11th February 2011, as Turkmens of Beshir demonstrated peacefully to show their disagreement about the new constructions, saying that Arabs were violating the agreement, that only agriculture is permitted on the land and not construction, some Arabs started to attack them.
The original Turkmen inhabitants of Beshir who were victims of deportation under the former Iraqi regime have shown great patience, they have never resorted to violence, they have followed the procedures set up by the Iraqi Properties Claims Commission and in 2005 they handed their complaints together with copies of their deeds to the Commission in order to get back their confiscated lands and be compensated for the destruction of their houses and for their loss of earnings since 1986, but the Iraqi authorities are in no haste to process the files belonging to Turkmens.
Since 2005 only 2.000 files out of the 45.000 files belonging to Turkmens have been processed. This is clearly a sign of discrimination against Turkmens as in Kerkuk, all the ‘pending files’ belong to Turkmens, and all the Kurds who submitted their files have already been compensated.
Human Rights Watch Report
Claims in Conflict : Reversing Ethnic Cleansing in Northern Iraq
Case Study: Al-Bashir village
Translation of Full Text of the Iraqi Constitution was published in the Washington Post, hereunder The text of THE PREAMBLE
It was translated from the Arabic by the United Nation’s Office for Constitutional Support, and the translation was approved by the Iraqi government.
In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate
We have honored the sons of Adam.
We are the people of the land between two rivers, the homeland of the apostles and prophets, abode of the virtuous imams, pioneers of civilization, crafters of writing and cradle of numeration. Upon our land the first law made by man was passed, the most ancient just pact for homelands policy was inscribed, and upon our soil, companions of the Prophet and saints prayed, philosophers and scientists theorized and writers and poets excelled.
Acknowledging God’s right over us, and in fulfillment of the call of our homeland and citizens, and in response to the call of our religious and national leaderships and the determination of our great (religious) authorities and of our leaders and reformers, and in the midst of an international support from our friends and those who love us, marched for the first time in our history toward the ballot boxes by the millions, men and women, young and old, on the thirtieth of January two thousand and five, invoking the pains of sectarian oppression sufferings inflicted by the autocratic clique and inspired by the tragedies of Iraq’s martyrs, Shiite and Sunni, Arabs and Kurds and Turkmen and from all the other components of the people and recollecting the darkness of the ravage of the holy cities and the South in the Sha’abaniyya uprising and burnt by the flames of grief of the mass graves, the marshes, Al-Dujail and others and articulating the sufferings of racial oppression in the massacres of Halabcha, Barzan, Anfal and the Fayli Kurds and inspired by the ordeals of the Turkmen in Basheer and as is the case in the remaining areas of Iraq where the people of the west suffered from the assassinations of their leaders, symbols and elderly and from the displacement of their skilled individuals and from the drying out of their cultural and intellectual wells, so we sought hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder to create our new Iraq, the Iraq of the future free from sectarianism, racism, locality complex, discrimination and exclusion.
Accusations of being infidels, and terrorism did not stop us from marching forward to build a nation of law. Sectarianism and racism have not stopped us from marching together to strengthen our national unity, and to follow the path of peaceful transfer of power and adopt the course of the just distribution of resources and providing equal opportunity for all.
We the people of Iraq who have just risen from our stumble, and who are looking with confidence to the future through a republican, federal, democratic, pluralistic system, have resolved with the determination of our men, women, the elderly and youth, to respect the rules of law, to establish justice and equality to cast aside the politics of aggression, and to tend to the concerns of women and their rights, and to the elderly and their concerns, and to children and their affairs and to spread a culture of diversity and defusing terrorism.
We the people of Iraq of all components and shades have taken upon ourselves to decide freely and with our choice to unite our future and to take lessons from yesterday for tomorrow, to draft, through the values and ideals of the heavenly messages and the findings of science and man’s civilization, this lasting constitution. The adherence to this constitution preserves for Iraq its free union, its people, its land and its sovereignty.
Below is one of the articles published by Reuters:
KIRKUK, Iraq | Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:51am EST
KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) – A tribal dispute between Arabs and Turkmen over land near Iraq’s oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk led to clashes that killed three people and wounded another eight Friday, police and provincial officials said.
The incident began with a demonstration by Turkmen tribes against Arabs who were building houses in the village of Basheer, 15 km ( miles) southwest of Kirkuk, local police said.
Longstanding differences between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen over land and oil in Kirkuk and Iraq’s other disputed northern territories are considered a potential flashpoint for future conflict in Iraq.
Authorities said the Turkmen were concerned the construction would deepen the Arab presence in an area they see as their own.
“Three people were killed due to a tribal dispute between Turkmen and Arab tribes in Basheer,” said Serhat Qader, a police official based in Kirkuk.
Provincial officials said three Arabs were killed in the clash, while the eight wounded were from both sides.
Direct clashes between Turkmen and Arabs in the disputed areas have been rare.
Najat Hussein, a Turkmen member of Tamim provincial council, said the Turkmen were demonstrating “peacefully” against the recent construction, which he said violated a five-year-old agreement between Arabs and Turkmen in the area.
“A part of the deal is that only agriculture (not construction) is permitted,” he said.
Mohammed Khalil, an Arab member of the council, said: “It was not a peaceful demonstration.”
Kirkuk, about 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, sits atop some of the world’s richest oilfields. Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region claims Kirkuk for its own.
Tags: Ershad Hürmülu
|14 Şubat 2011, Pazartesi ||
Peş peşe yaşanan isyanlar gözleri Ortadoğu’ya çevirdi… Cumhurbaşkanı Gül’ün Ortadoğu Başdanışmanı Erşat Hürmüzlü üniversitelerin gözdesi oldu. Okullar hem konferans hem kürsü desteği için sıraya girdi…
Tags: ITF Communiqué, ITF Dr Sadettin Ergeç
|11 February 2011, Friday|
ITF Iraq published a notification regarding the Vice Presidency
We, as the Iraqi Turkmen Front, as a political organization defending the legal national rights of the Turkmen nation, thank the President of Iraq for his request for a fourth vice presidency and for the candidate to be a Turkmen. However, we would have wished that the third vice presidency position be offered to the Turkmen and we would like to take the opportunity to ask the distinguished President why the third vice presidency was not offered to a Turkmen candidate.
The distinguished President could have requested the fourth vice presidency position and refrained from disclosing the names of the three other vice presidents and sending them to the Iraqi parliament before this position was approved.
The names of the three vice presidents presented to the Iraqi Parliament in a single list and a request to the same parliament for a fourth vice presidency position is just a ruse thrown in front of those who obstruct the Turkmen and their legal rights. Those segments have resisted the deputizing of a Turkmen vice president from the beginning.
Leader of Iraqi Turkmen Front
|ITC’den Bildiri Yayınlandı|
|10 Şubat 2011, Perşembe ||
Irak Cumhurbaşkanlığı yardımcılığı konusunda bir bildiri yayınladı.
Biz Irak Türkmen Cephesi; Türkmen halkımızın meşru milli haklarını savunan bir siyasi kuruluş olarak, Irak Cumhurbaşkanı’nın dördüncü başkan yardımcı talebini ve bu pozisyonun adayı Türkmen olmasının talebinden dolayı teşekkür ederiz. Ancak biz; üçüncü başkan yardımcı pozisyonunun Türkmenlere verilmesini ümit ederdik ve bu hususta Sayın Cumhurbaşkanı’nın neden üçüncü başkan yardımcı pozisyonunu için Türkmenlerden aday göstermediğini kendisine sormak isteriz.
Sayın Cumhurbaşkanı; diğer üç başkan yardımcısının isimlerini açıklamadan ve Irak parlamentosuna göndermeden önce dördüncü başkan yardımcısı pozisyonunu talep edebilirdi ve bu pozisyon onaylanmadan diğer adayların isimlerini göndermeyebilirdi.
Irak Parlamentosuna tek listede sunulmuş olan üç başkan yardımcının isimleri ve aynı parlamentoya dördüncü başkan yardımcısı pozisyonunun talebi; sadece Türkmenleri ve Türkmenlerin meşru haklarını engelleyenlerin önüne atmaktan ibarettir. Çünkü o kesimler; Türkmenlere başkan yardımcısı görevinin verilmesini ilk günden itibaren reddetmekteydiler.
Dolayısıyla, dördüncü başkan yardımcı pozisyonunun onaylanmasını ve daha sonra her dört yardımcının isimlerinin Irak parlamentosuna birlikte sunulmasını talep ederiz. Aksi takdirde, Cumhurbaşkanı tarafından sunulmuş olan önerinin ciddi olmadığını ve sadece Türkmenlerin hak ve hukuklarını hedef almış bir olaydan ibaret olduğunu kabul etmiş oluruz.
Dr. Sadettin Ergeç
Irak Türkmen Cephesi Başkanı
Tags: Discrimination against Turkmens
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TURKMENS CONTINUES IN IRAQ
ايها العراقيون : هل الشراكة الوطنية حلال للاكراد و حرام على التركمان في العراق؟
ان الذي حدث وما زال يحدث في العراق لهو عجب العجاب لم يحدث بتاريخ اية دولة او شعب في العالم منذ نشأة الخليقة سواء في الساحة السياسية او الاقتصادية وحتى الاجتماعية، ومن خلال متابعة سير الاحداث، نرى ان القوميات الاخرى من غير العرب وهم يعتبرون اقليات ومن ضمنهم الاكراد والذي لايتجاوز نسبتهم عن 15% من الشعب العراقي فنراهم يستخدمون المعايير المزدوجة في الوصول لحكم البلاد والعباد، ففي العاصمة بغداد يتشبثون بمدأ الشراكة الوطنية والاستحقاق القومي حتى استطاعوا الاستحواذ على 35% من المناصب السيادية والمواقع الحساسة في مفاصل الدولة، أي تقريبا حصلوا على ثلاثة اضعاف حقوقهم المستحقة قانونيا وانتخابيا.
ونرى العكس تماما في المناطق الذي يسيطرون عليها من قبل ميليشياتهم، ففي اقليم شمال العراق فهم يستأثرون بالسلطة والحكم والمال والجاه 100%، اما القوميات الاخرى وخصوصا التركمان فليندبوا حظهم العاثر الذي جعلهم يعيشون معهم في نفس الرقعة الجغرافية، اما في كركوك فالامور رأسا على عقب مع ان جميع العراقيين على علم ودراية بان التركمان هم السكان الاصليين لهذه المدينة العريقة الغنية بثرواتها النفطية وهذا حسب الوثائق والمصادر التاريخية الرصينة المعتمدة عالميا وليست المزورة، ففي هذه المدينة المنكوبة فان ديمقراطية الحزبين الكرديين غيرت مسار السياسة الى الاحقية الانتخابية وهم يعلمون كيف جرت الانتخابات وشهدت تزويرها العالم من خلال سيطرة ميليشيات البيشمركة
والاسايش على مجريات الامور وبغياب تام او بالاتفاق مع الحكومة المركزية وهم يضربون بعرض الحائط كل من ينادي بالمشاركة الوطنية والاستحقاق القومي ويبدأون فورا بالتهجم والسخرية من الاخرين بانهم لم يحصلوا على نفس النسبة في الانتخابات المزورة..ونقولها مرة اخرى المزورة.
ايها الساسة العراقييون العقلاء، الا تلاحظون هذه العقلية الازدواجية في الاداء السياسي، فحلال على الحزبين الكرديين في ابتلاع مقدرات وثروات ومناصب العراق الفيدرالي ومن ضمنها اقليم الشمال وحرام على التركمان ان يشاركونكم في بلدهم ومدينتهم التاريخية في الحكم والمناصب، هل هذا حكم قره قوش وديمقراطية ساكسونيا، فأن كنتم فعلا تدعون ابنكم ذقتم مرارة الظلم سابقا فعليكم ان لا تظلموا الاخرين في حرايتهم واستحقاقاتهم الوطنية لكي يكونوا شركاء اصلاء لبناء هذا البلد المنهار من كل النواحي، وان الذي يدعي بانه يعرف الانسانية وطعم الحرية فعليه ان يحس بالام الاخرين ومصائبهم ومقدار الظلم الذي وقع عليهم سابقا وان لا يحاول جاهدا في زيادة مصائبهم حاليا، فتذكروا جيدا ان الذي كان يظلمكم ويذلكم (كما تدعون) ذهب هو وزمرته الاجرامية الى مزبلة التاريخ فلا تكرروا نفس السيناريو مع الشعوب المظلومة الاخرى في العراق، وبالاخص مع التركمان، فان التركمان شعب اصيل وحي ومؤمنون ولهم رب يحميهم كما حماهم من الطغاة السابقين وسوف ينصرهم على الظالمين الجدد الذين يعملون ليل نهار على ازالة هذه القومية من العراق بكافة الوسائل الشيطانية من الاستيطان اللاشرعي، اغتصاب ونهب الاراضي، التهديد، القتل، والتهميش ومحاولة اظهارهم تارة متفرقيين ومتناحرين فيما بينهم وتارة اخرى ذات حجم صغير لاحول لهم ولاقوة، فنقول لكم حسبنا الله فيكم ونعم الوكيل ونعم المولى ونعم النصير، سوف نبقى ندعوا عليكم ليل نهار كما دعونا على الطاغية السابق.
واخيرا، فاننا نستغرب ونتسائل منطقيا، لماذا ساسة الحزبين الكرديين يصرون على منح التركمان نائبا للرئيس العراقي في بغداد والكل يعلم ان هذا المنصب هو تشريفي، ولكنهم ينسون ويتناسون بل ويصرون على هضم احقية التركمان في تقلد المناصب في كركوك واربيل من نائبا للمحافظ ورئيس مجلس المحافظة ومدراء عاميين او حتى نائبا لرئيس الاقليم او وزراء في كابينته، فاذا كنتم جاديين بهذه الطروحات وبدأتم تدركون مدى ظلمكم للقومية التركمانية ومدى احقيته في العيش
الكريم تحت ظلال “الديمقراطية الجديدة” وانتم على دراية تامة مدى التعايش السلمي والتداخل العائلي بين القوميتين والتي تتشاركون معهم في نفس الرقعة الجغرافية والحياة الاجتماعية فعليكم اولا ان تكونوا قدوة للاخرين وان تبدأوا بتطبيق هذه الشعارات ومنح التركمان ما تريدونه في العاصمة بغداد، وايضا ندعوكم با تتعلموا من دروس التاريخ ومن ثورة التونسيين والمصريين فان الشعب التركماني مستعد للقيام بنفس التجربة من النزول للشوارع والتضحية بالغالي والنفيس من اجل حريته وكرامته.
Tags: Vice-Presidents Iraq
Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 12 February 2011 17:25
In one of the least glorious acts of his presidency, Jalal Talabani has asked the Iraqi parliament to amend tomorrow the newly passed law on “one or more deputies for the president” so that the number of deputies can be expanded from three to four. Some reports even say Talabani has specifically requested that the law reserve the fourth seat for a Turkmen (the three persons already nominated are two Shiites and one Sunni Arab).
The realpolitik behind this move is as follows. The two biggest Kurdish parties promote a vision of Iraqi politics in which ethno-sectarian collective groups rather than the individual citizens are centre stage. In accordance with this policy, the Kurdish parties ask for ethno-sectarian quotas in government (percentages of jobs that will go to Kurds), identify “disputed territories” (where a majority of people defining themselves as “Kurds” live) and have introduced the general concept of “racial entitlement” (istihqaq qawmi) as a means of justifying these demands. Another facet of this strategy is to make as many non-Kurdish Iraqis as possible think of themselves as members of ethno-sectarian communities too, as seen particularly in the way the Kurds have been building relationships with Iraq’s Christian communities.
The latest step, then, is to reach out to the Turkmen community through the promotion of a separate Turkmen vice-presidency. This strategy makes sense for the Kurds, firstly since they need to win over Turkmens in order to advance their aim of territorial annexation of the disputed city of Kirkuk, and secondly since they are much less worried about the Turkmen as a minority community than the prospect of Turkmens and other non-Kurds joining a strong Iraqi nationalist party. Briefly put, to the Kurdish strategy, it is a good thing when the Turkmens emulate their calls for “racial entitlements” – a concept that does not occur in the constitution – instead of joining other Iraqis in cross-sectarian parties. At the same time, it is a move that will pay off nicely for Talabani, since his deputies according to the law has no other powers than what he himself delegates to them from his own, largely ceremonial prerogatives. Nonetheless, Talabani has succeeded in prompting Turkmen politicians to fight among themselves for a deputy president position that has only symbolic value, while at the same time sacrificing opportunities to obtain ministries where they could have played a more national role.
Tomorrow’s other main scheduled event in parliament, the second reading of the budget before it goes to a vote later in the month, exemplifies the potential benefits to the Kurds of promoting an ethno-sectarian paradigm in Iraqi politics. If ethno-sectarian identities were of limited significance, then one could expect many nationalists in the Iraqiyya movement to support the deputy prime minister, Hussein al-Shahristani, in his persistent reservations against recognising the contracts of the foreign companies operating in Kurdistan without adjustments. Conversely, if Iraqiyya and State of Law are unable to cooperate due to differences in which sectarian sentiments play a part, then the position of the Kurds is looking a lot stronger. Lately, of course, there are indeed signs that that appears to be the case, with Iraqiyya reportedly seeking assistance from the Kurds to achieve progress on legislation for the strategic policy council, another institution that just like the deputy presidencies will help enshrine a sectarian architecture in Iraq’s political institutions. Reports that Iraqiyya have accepted the directorship of the Sunni religious endowment authority (awqaf) would just seem to emphasise this trend towards a Sunnification of Iraqiyya; as do statements by Haydar al-Mulla of Iraqiyya that they are happy with a Turkmen president to fill the third seat as long as there is not a fourth one for a second Shiite! It is increasingly unclear whether the budget text will actually clarify the exact government position on oil exports, but the debate surrounding it will no doubt be influenced by the degree to which an ethno-sectarian quota logic continues to prevail among Iraqi politicians.
Some in the international community will no doubt laud Talabani for his latest move. (“Expanding the number from three to four – how did he think of that?”) Critics will point to the instrument of ever more vice presidents and deputy ministers as the cardinal symptom of a political system in great crisis, where quotas for imagined collective identities matter more than talent in providing services for individual citizens. Why stop at four vice presidents? Why not add some for the Christians and Sabaeans? There are plenty of sects and tribes that need recognition; in the end “Every Iraqi Is a Vice President” will be a suitable slogan.
With hopeful signs of a no-nonsense democracy in the making in Egypt, perhaps Iraq, too, will one day get a democracy that is less characterised by exogenous forces than the current system and political culture, still rooted in the days of Paul Bremer in the years from 2003 to 2004. There are signs that Iraqis are already calling for “better services” but until they also start calling for “fewer vice-presidents” their revolution is likely to remain a frustrated one.