Who is be­hind Kirkuk Bomb­ings?

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL -

Ter­ror cam­paigns have turned Kirkuk into one of the most dan­ger­ous cities in Iraq. The in­ten­sity and fre­quency of the at­tacks in the city has in­creased in par­al­lel with the for­ma­tion of Di­cle Op­er­a­tion Forces (DOF), which was formed by the Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nuri al-Ma­liki. The gov­er­nor of Kirkuk is­sued warn­ings that with the ar­rival of DOF, it will be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to pro­tect the city, and main­tain sta­bil­ity.

The city wit­nessed an­other bloody at­tack on the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 3, where more than 30 civil­ians were killed, and dozens in­jured. The tim­ing of the at­tack is quite cal­cu­lated be­cause the gi­ant Exxon Mo­bil oil com­pany along­side Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) of­fi­cials vis­ited Qara Han­sher oil ex­plo­ration bloc to dis­cuss build­ing a camp there. Qara Han­sher is lo­cated in the north of Kirkuk.

Kirkuk and other parts of Kur­dis­tan are not un­der the con­trol of KRG be­cause they are clas­si­fied as ‘dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries’. This has been con­sid­ered as one of the key is­sues which are dis­puted by Bagh­dad and Kur­dis­tan.

Dur­ing the op­po­si­tion to Sad­dam Hus­sein, and fol­low­ing the top­pling of Baath regime Iraqi politi­cians promised Kurds that Kirkuk and other ar­eas of Kur­dis­tan that were not un­der the ef­fec­tive con­trol of KRG will even­tu­ally be in­cor­po­rated into Kur­dis­tan. The Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion in­cluded an ar­ti­cle (Ar­ti­cle 140) whereby the dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries were set to be re­solved through a ref­er­en­dum. This ar­ti­cle has not been im­ple­mented by the Iraqi government, and they have con­tin­u­ously en­deav­ored to dis­re­gard its sig­nif­i­cance.

Ma­liki has tried to avoid the ref­er­en­dum in bold terms, and his ac­tions speak quite loudly. He has tried to re­duce the role of Kur­dish forces within Kirkuk province by at­tempt­ing to oc­cupy it through the for­ma­tion of DOF. He has even threat­ened to oc­cupy the whole of Kur­dis­tan, and de­stroy the fed­eral struc­ture of Iraq. It seems, if Ma­liki has suf­fi­cient strength and sup­port he will not hes­i­tate to re­place Sad­dam Hus­sein. His poli­cies to­wards Kurds are rem­i­nis­cent of Sad­dam Hus­sein, who eth­ni­cally cleansed Kurds, and started an ‘Ara­biza­tion’ process in the re­gion dur­ing his reign.

The re­sis­tance of Kur­dis­tan re­gion to com­ply with Ma­liki’s dic­ta­to­rial or­ders and ten­den­cies il­lus­trates that Kurds will not give up their rights eas­ily. We will not com­pro­mise our na­tional ter­ri­tory or nat­u­ral re­sources, and the more ob­sta­cles Bagh­dad tries to cre­ate for Kurds, the less likely it will be for Ma­liki to im­ple­ment his pol­icy of erad­i­cat­ing Kur­dish in­flu­ence in the re­gion.

The city of Kirkuk has be­come a play­ground for ter­ror groups that are of­ten ma­nip­u­lated by var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal forces within and out­side of Iraq. Th­ese mili­tia groups are not so-much the re­sult of re­li­gious rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the re­gion, as much as they are of po­lit­i­cally ori­en­tated poli­cies that aim to prop­a­gate vi­o­lence for the sake of in­still­ing fear in the peo­ple. One thing is for sure, who­ever pulled the ‘trig­ger’ in re­cent bomb­ings in Kirkuk, the main cul­prit is Ma­liki and his dic­ta­to­rial pre­dis­po­si­tion.

KRG has devel­oped its oil pol­icy suc­cess­fully, and it is the foun­da­tion of be­com­ing eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent in Kur­dis­tan. De­spite threats from Bagh­dad, and the con­stant woo­ing that is go­ing on be­hind doors by Ma­liki with the CEO of Exxon Mo­bil to con­tinue pump­ing oil in South­ern Iraq, Kur­dis­tan has man­aged to pull sev­eral gi­ant oil com­pa­nies. Kur­dis­tan of­fers sta­bil­ity, and this is KRG’s vic­tory over Bagh­dad in the bat­tle of oil con­tracts.

Exxon Mo­bil’s en­try to Kur­dis­tan opened doors for sev­eral other gi­ant oil com­pa­nies such as Chevron, France’s To­tal and Rus­sia’s Gazprom Neft. This has caused ten­sions to grow be­tween Kur­dis­tan and Bagh­dad be­cause oil con­tracts in­evitably change the bal­ance of pow­ers in the re­gion. Bagh­dad is afraid that Kur­dis­tan will be­come strong, in­de­pen­dent and pow­er­ful. This is why, ter­ror cam­paigns seem po­lit­i­cally ori­en­tated be­cause they cause in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion, which could po­ten­tially ‘scare off’ oil com­pa­nies in Kur­dis­tan.

Con­se­quently, KRG must en­sure that Kirkuk re­gains sta­bil­ity, and main­tains it. There would be anti-ter­ror teams and in­tel­li­gence forces de­ployed into the province to pre­vent more deadly at­tacks, and provo­ca­tions in this city.

Iraqi se­cu­rity per­son­nel are seen at the site of a sui­cide bomb at­tack in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Bagh­dad Fe­bru­ary 3, 2013.

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