Arabs fear Kurdish grab after
US pullout from Kirkuk Buzz Up
by Mohammad Ibrahim Mohammad Ibrahim – AFP
KIRKUK, Iraq (AFP) – The Arabs and Turkmen of Kirkuk fear the Kurds will seize control of the northern oil hub after the US pullout from Iraqi urban areas unless their power in the security services is curbed. "The Arabs of Kirkuk fear that the province's security services who work for political parties will take control of the city after American forces withdraw," said Mohammad Khalil al-Juburi, head of the city's "Arab Bloc." He was referring to the 8,000 "asaysh," or security personnel, who are linked to the main Kurdish parties and dominant in several districts of the city of 550,000 residents.
"Even if the situation is stable today from the point of view of security, there is no equitable participation (by the different Kirkuk communities) in this sector, and that's what worries us," Juburi told AFP. He said that Arab residents wanted the US military, before its pullout due to be completed on Tuesday, to cut back the Kurdish participation and allow for a fairer shareout of responsibility for security duties. Rich in black gold, the Kirkuk province of some 900,000 people is a microcosm of Iraq's problems.
It has several communities vying for power: the Kurds who want to attach Kirkuk to Iraqi Kurdistan, the Turkmen with historical claims to the area, Christians and Arabs, many of whom were settled in the province under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's policy of Arabisation.
On June 24, Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region approved a new constitution in which it formally laid claim to Kirkuk province.