Wednesday, June 15, 2005

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Activating the Kurdish SEP field

Continuing the theme from my last post is this story by Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid in the Washington Post about what's going on in Kirkuk:

Police and security units, forces led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkmens in this intensely volatile city and spirited them to prisons in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, government documents and families of the victims.

Seized off the streets of Kirkuk or in joint U.S.-Iraqi raids, the men have been transferred secretly and in violation of Iraqi law to prisons in the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces. The detainees, including merchants, members of tribal families and soldiers, have often remained missing for months; some have been tortured, according to released prisoners and the Kirkuk police chief.

A confidential State Department cable, obtained by The Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the "extra-judicial detentions" were part of a "concerted and widespread initiative" by Kurdish political parties "to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner."

The abductions have "greatly exacerbated tensions along purely ethnic lines" and endangered U.S. credibility, the nine-page cable, dated June 5, stated. "Turkmen in Kirkuk tell us they perceive a U.S. tolerance for the practice while Arabs in Kirkuk believe Coalition Forces are directly responsible."

....Abdul Rahman Mustafa, the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk province, said the reports of abductions were "not true," although prisoners were often transferred to other provinces to relieve crowding. Jalal Jawhar, who heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Kirkuk, said some suspects were transferred to prisons in Irbil and Sulaymaniyah with the "complete cooperation" of the U.S. military.

"This is a normal procedure," Jawhar said.

Maj. Darren Blagburn, intelligence officer for the 116th Brigade Combat Team in Kirkuk, acknowledged that Arab and Turkmen detainees were surreptitiously transferred to Kurdish prisons without judicial oversight. He denied any U.S. role in the transfers and said they were necessary because of crowding in Kirkuk's jails.

Blagburn said he and other U.S. officers intervened with Kurdish leaders after discovering the practice nearly a month ago. He said he was "pretty sure" the practice had ended.

posted by Dan on 06.15.05 at 12:23 AM


If Washington cannot control Kurdish maximalist demands and things like this, US forces will have to stay in Iraq for years and thousands more will die.

Foreign Press Review and
QuickRead - 'We read things so you don't have to'

posted by: bahadir on 06.15.05 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

Complaints about "exacerbating ethnic tensions" in Kirkuk beg the question. The tensions exist because of steps taken by the prior government to advantage Arabs and Turkmen at the expense of local Kurds. Demanding that Kurds forget all about this does not appear likely to produce success.

We cannot resolve the Kirkuk issue, but it might help if we faced it squarely, recognizing history did not begin yesterday and that "tensions" do not materialize out thin air.

posted by: Zathras on 06.15.05 at 12:23 AM [permalink]


recognizing history is something GW does badly.

I sort of wish the civil war would get going so we can get it over with. The division of Iraq has been predictable since before the invasion. Why don't we just get on with it? I have a terrible feeling the reality will be an agonizing and long slide into war.

posted by: exclab on 06.15.05 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

"Don't shoot or I'll shoot the nigger!"

"I'll make you kill me and then it will be all your fault."

Nah. Kill enough of them in front of the rest, and the rest will change their minds. This is the Middle East.

"IRAQ: The Sunni Arabs Have a Plan That May Work

June 12, 2005: The Iraqi Sunni Arabs are driving a hard bargain. In effect, they are still running an extortion racket on the Kurds and Shia Arabs who comprise 80 percent of the population. The terrorist violence in Iraq is almost entirely the creation of Sunni Arabs. Their proposals is that, in return for stopping the violence, they want a major say in the writing of the new constitution, and some major amnesty for past sins. The Sunni Arabs have a lot to account for in the pain and atrocity department, both currently and in the past.

In the past, the Sunni Arab extortion racket was simpler. As the Sunni Arabs controlled the police, army and everything else, it was easy to tell the Kurds and Shia Arabs to do something, or else. There was a lot of "or else," and Saddam Hussein's coming trial will contain abundant gory details. Since the Sunni Arabs were tossed out of power in April of 2003, they have been scheming to get it back. They have a plan, they believe it will work, and they may be right.

The Iraqi Sunni Arabs are not alone, and their list of allies is large. Locally, all Middle Eastern nations run by Sunni Arabs, and that's nearly all of them, back the idea of Sunni Arabs running Iraq. It's easy for outsiders to underestimate how much of a threat Sunni Arabs feel that Shia Iran is. For the last quarter century, Iran has been run by radical Shia clerics. But the Iranian tradition that terrifies Sunni Arabs the most is the fact that for over three thousand years, Iran has dominated the region. Currently, Iran is developing nuclear weapons, the better to continue that tradition of domination. Shia Arabs are 60 percent of the Iraqi population. In a democracy, those Shia Arabs should be running the country. The Sunni Arab nightmare is that a Shia run Iraq would ally with Shia Iran to take over the Middle East. It's an Arabian nightmare that is based on thousands of years of reality. Sunni Arabs in the Middle East may not support Sunni Arab terrorism in Iraq, but they do support Sunni Arab control of Iraq.

Iraqi Sunni Arabs also have the support of the majority of the world's media. The American overthrow of Sunni Arab control of Iraq was condemned by most of the world's media. This was largely the result of European "pragmatism", and willingness to tolerate Sunni Arab atrocities in return for lucrative business deals. Saddam's Republic of Fear was largely equipped with weapons and gear supplied by European nations (mainly Russia, France and Germany.) It had also become fashionable in Europe to condemn Israel for oppressing the Sunni Arab Palestinians. This made Europeans more popular in the Sunni Arab world. So it was something of a knee-jerk reaction for the European press to join with the Sunni Arab press to condemn the United States for removing Sunni Arabs from control of Iraq. This media coalition continues to portray Sunni Arab terrorism in Iraq as "insurgents" and "freedom fighters."

Sunni Arab leaders are demanding a new constitution that will make it easier for Sunni Arabs to regain control of the government, and amnesty for Sunni Arabs involved in the last two years of terrorism, and the previous decades of government sponsored atrocities. The Sunni Arabs are willing to blame it all on al Qaeda, which is mainly radical Sunni Arabs that are considered expendable. The Kurds and Shia Arabs are gagging on this. But they have a stark choice. If they don't give in, they may only be able to stop the Sunni Arab terrorism by, in effect, making war on the Sunni Arab population. This would get pretty ugly. Look at Lebanon, the poster child for Arab civil wars. That one lasted for fifteen years (1975-90) and killed over five percent of the population. Of course, that's what Saddam did to Iraq in three decades of misrule. But a major effort to suppress current Sunni Arab violence in Iraq could leave over 100,000 Sunni Arabs dead, and several million in exile. This is a nightmare for the United States, whose troops would be a witness to this, and accused of not doing anything to stop it.

It's a game of chicken, but the Sunni Arabs are confident that the other guys will blink first. They may be right.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 06.15.05 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

Point of Order. It's the 116th Cav. BCT is Big Army same-same Army-of-One crazy talk. Show some respect, Drez. and mount up.

posted by: Tommy G on 06.15.05 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?