Maliki plays a dangerous game in Kirkuk

Will he win the Kirkuk battle?

Kamal Chomani, a independent freelance journalist reporting from Federal Kurdistan and Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki try to test the Kurdish nerves to send Iraqi troops to the most sensitive city in Iraq, Kirkuk. Kurds feel provoked and they do believe that Maliki is playing a dangerous game with fire in oil rich Kirkuk, but will he win the battle ?

Maliki is trying to re-establish a strong centralized state similar to Saddam Hussein’s regime. Kurds fear that a strong centralized Iraqi state is not in their interest and will result more conflicts.

"We (the Kurdish government) consider this to be a provocative act," Kurdish regional Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said of the Iraq troop movements to Kirkuk. Barzani said the troops movements were "not to provide security to these areas" but rather to control the city "in a military way – something that cannot and will not be accepted" by the Kurdish authorities.

Kurds do believe that Maliki plays a dangerous game. If he can, he will expel the Kurds and will control Kirkuk. According to the World Tribune, Iraqi government sources say that the Iraqi government will deploy 50.000 soldiers and police officers in the disputed city of Kirkuk. These have been bolstered by the Sunni-dominated al Sahwa auxiliary police force. This attempt by Maliki is clear that he wants to control over Kurds especially in Kirkuk.

The Kurdish diplomats told us that Maliki is trying to test Kurdish nerves, but the Kurdistani people is strongly decided to not go back from Federalism to past in Saddam Hussein’s time. They underlined that, that time is over. Now after strong reactions from Kurdistan Government, Maliki drown back Iraqi troops. Earlier he was also tested the Kurds in other Kurdish cities, as Khanikin-Diyala.

Dr. Mahmud Othman, member of the Kurdistan Alliance bloc in Iraqi parliament, and prominent politician told to Peyamner news ; "The Iraqi Government supports any effort to postpone the solution of issues. The solution of issues should be done early and not to be late any more."

Kurds have two strong security forces and police commanded by the two political parties (KDP and PUK) but they are still not united. The Kurdish army is also a part of Iraqi army. But the Kurdish people who suffered much during Saddam Husseins time, ask for a united Kurdish government with a strong united voice and army.

Kurds are also critical to American vice-president Joseph Biden

Dr. Mahmud Othman criticizes US policy in Iraq ; "When Biden came to Iraq but he didn’t come to Hawler "the capital city of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)" even for two hours, while he was the owner of the project of dividing Iraq into three parts. This was our hope."

For the first time Othman elaborates the content of the meeting between Biden and political groups in Kirkuk, said "Biden in his meeting with the leaders of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen stated that "you have to sort things out among yourselves, otherwise we will leave you alone."

"Biden was the owner of the project of dividing Iraq in two three federal parts, but now this his position towards Kurds. Because of the points that I mentioned above, we have to be aware of the changes in Iraq, time is not in our interest."

Both Iraqi Kurds and Turkmen claim Kirkuk as their historic capital, but the ethnic balance of the governorate was extensively altered under the former dictator regime through the expulsion of Kurds while Arabs claim that it shouldn’t be isolate from Baghdad. Kirkuk also has one of the biggest oil fields of the Middle-East.