Monday, March 14, 2011

The oil-rich Kirkuk

Kirkuk is an oil-rich region of Iraq that's long been in dispute -- even if the idiot Chris Hill publicly revealed he couldn't grasp that in his 2009 Senate confirmation hearing. The KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) argues they they have a right to it. They argue that they were kicked out. The central government or 'government' out of Baghdad argues it belongs with them. The issue is so divisive that the 2005 Constitution (which Iraq now operates under -- or is supposed to) addressed the issue. Per the Constitution, a census was supposed to be taken of the region and a referendum held. That was supposed to take place by 2007.

2007 came and went. Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then. He became prime minister in the spring of 2006. He didn't meet the deadline. When the Democrats won control of both houses in the US Congress and began making noises about ending the war, the White House (Bush administration) came up with a list of benchmarks that Iraq would meet to show progress. If Iraq didn't meet those benchmarks, funding was supposed to cease. (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett appears to be one of the few members of Congress who grasped that then or since.) Nouri agreed to the benchmarks and then ignored them. Kirkuk was one of the benchmarks.

In the lead up to the last provincial elections, Nouri was promising the issue would be delt with (January 2009 was when those provincial elections were held). Didn't happen. Most recently, while attempting to secure the post of prime minister for more four years, Nouri was insisting that the census would be held in December 2010. Days before it was time for the census, and just a little while after he was named prime minister-designate, Nouri called off the census. It's 2011. The Constitutionally mandated census and referendum is four years overdue.

Last week, we noted:

Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports that Talabani spoke Monday in Sulaimaniya and declared Kurkuk to be "Kurdistan's sanctity." The problem with interpreting that comment is that (a) Talabani was before a crowd and (b) he always goes back on his statments -- especially when it comes to Kirkuk. That hasn't prevented many from attempting to decipher where Talabani is leading.

Alsumaria TV reports, "The statements of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in which he described Kirkuk as 'Jerusalem of Kurdistan' spurred wide reservation. In result, a number of Iraqi MPs gathered signatures to question President Talabani in Parliament on account of his latest statements on Kirkuk. Parliament Speaker Ousama Al Nujaifi welcomed the request and political parties called on Iraqi President to either backtrack his statements or apologize." Aswat al-Iraq cites MP Mahmoud Othman, of the Kurdistan Coalition, stating that it is legal to call Talabani before Parliament if he's violated the constitution but he doesn't see Talabani's remarks as being in violation of the Constitution noting "that when Talabani said that Kirkuk was the 'heart of Kurdistan,' he expressed his viewpoint, being the chairman of a party. . So, there is no need to gather signatures to summon him by the Parliament." In addition, they report that MP Khalid al-Assadi (with Nouri's coalition) has stated that the attempt to bring Talabani before the Parliament is the "incorrect measure."

Today New Sabah notes that Kirkuk is "combustible again" and the columnist explains Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujaifi has made similar remarks. The columnist calls upon all sides to proceed with wisdom and open minds and remember that Kirkuk has a population of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens with other ethnic and religious minorities as well. The leaders of both (major) Kurdish parties are called upon to use dialogue and discussion. (Goran is not a major Kurdish party.) Dar Addustour notes that the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to Iraq Ad Melkert met with Nouri yesterday to discuss the issue of Kirkuk.

Remember, there will be protests in the US next weekend. A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in these action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

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