Kirkuk City: History and Development

Introduction

This thesis will examine the prospects for democracy in modern Iraq through analyzing political developments in the city of Kirkuk. Using Kirkuk as a case study is useful because it exemplifies in microcosm, the numerous challenges the development and sustenance of democracy in Iraq. Iraq has faced challenges like the long history of authoritarian rule in Iraq and the crushing of democracy, the rivalry between Sunni and Shia, separatist claims of the Kurds and the demands of the Turkomen.

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The contemporary history of Iraq commenced immediately after the breakup of the old Ottoman Empire. In the campaigns against the Central powers the British military invaded Iraq and was defeated by Turkey. Thereafter, the British troops regrouped and later captured Baghdad. Later, an agreement was signed by the British and French that led to the curving out of Iraq from the Ottoman Empire. The agreement became conclusive in May 1916. In 1920, the curved out territory became under the control of the British with the name “State of Iraq”.

When the British established Hashemite monarchy the new territory, it did not take into consideration the politics of different religious as well as ethnic groups. This offered a chance for the Kurds and the Shiites to begin fighting for independence. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom initially established two regions which were Basra region and Baghdad region, but later the two were merged into one region. Later in 1932, the Britain granted Iraq independence; however, the British still hang on to the armed forces bases and also the privileges of transfer for the British military powers. There were subsequent wars and wrangles in Iraq, even after the independence had been granted.

The 1941 coup de tat saw the ousting from power of Abd al-llah who was the president at that time. The military wing soon took over the custody of the country. The Hashemite monarchy which was brought back thereafter operated up and until 1958. Another ouster from power took place and the monarchy was sent packing by the Iraqi troops (Batatu, 1978). A series of forceful power take over followed later that is in 1966 and 1968.

During these undemocratic power changes the military was the decider of which political party is the next head of government. Therefore, bloody conflicts between political parties were the most visible type of conflicts in the Iraqi political arena. Since the establishment of the Kingdom of Iraq at the beginning of the twentieth century, successive governments played the role of suppressor authoritarian rather than its role as mediator of governance in a multi-ethnic and religious country.

The use of assassinations and executions were the famous tools rather than negotiations in Iraq’s politics. Such politics became rather a political culture where Iraq could only be ruled through a strong central government with very limited rights to minorities. However, this was the case until April 2003, when the United State leading the “Coalition of the will” invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam’s Baath regime. The United Sates promised the Iraqi people and the whole region of Middle East of new democratic era. The fear of such promise by the authoritarian regimes in the region was later translated in their involvement in shaping Iraq’s political future.

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The Ba’ath Party had been ruling Iraq for a considerable length of time before the decline of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Nevertheless, in post-Saddam’s era the state of Iraq went into a political transition, struggling with the collective challenges of instituting structures of governance and allocating power within the institutions of the country. Such a task proved to be the difficult since the majority of the state institutions were not functioning due to thirty years of iron fist rule of the Ba’ath party. It is more than seven years since the US assault on the state of Iraq, and vigorous debates about the future of Iraq continue in every level of society.

A great deal of the instability within Iraq over the past seven years is due to struggles between the different political, sectarian and ethnic groups that constitute Iraq’s population. Foreign interference was also visible on the grounds where neighboring countries supported certain sectors or ethnic groups over another. However, Iraq has at all times been culturally and religiously varied and has historically allowed minority communities to co-exist in agreement with the majority of the populace. Nonetheless, the current situation has fuelled dispute and even violence between the different factions.

When Iraq was attacked by United States, opponents of Iraq that expected to gain the support of the USA termed it a wrong war and never approved of it; this was because the opponents were against the liberation of Iraq. The coalition that joined forces with USA in liberating Iraq initially comprised of 49 nations. After the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein, the US supported the establishment of democracy under a new constitution.

Much of the conflict has occurred due to differences in perceptions of how sectarian tensions can be resolved whether through the creation of a strong central government focused on keeping the country politically unified or by allowing a decentralized power structure in which minority groups are granted political self ruled parts of Iraq (Iraq’s New Reality, p. 2). The later solution was guaranteed by the 2005 Iraqi constitution but left without mentioning the mechanism of establishing such federation system which has triggered a territory disputes and serious claims by political powers over oil rich cities such as Kirkuk.

The Iraqi Constitution deviates from the model of eighteen governorates by recognizing Kurdistan, which comprises three governorates at present as well as fragments of others, as an established federal region. Integrationists have generally come to accept this as an immovable fact, though hardly enthusiastically. They continue, however, to object to two other parts of the Constitution, which also break with the model of administrative federation. The provision that allows Kirkuk to join Kurdistan, should a majority of its population decide to do so in a plebiscite to be held by December 2007 and the provision that allows all governorates, except Baghdad, to amalgamate to form regions, following a referendum in each governorate (Iraq’s Constitution of 2005 p677).

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The concern is that these two parts of the constitution might pave the way for the breakup of the state. The other concern is that natural resources are based in the Shiia dominant south and the Kurdish dominant northern parts of the country this however, leaves the Sunni out of the economic equation because the Western parts of Iraq where Sunnis are based lacks natural resources such as oil. Although Sunni Arabs have accepted Kurdistan as a self ruled part of Iraq, they have rejected the authority of the regional government of Kurdistan to be stretched to Kirkuk. This view has created tension between minorities living in the city each claiming the majority and the right (except the Kurds) to keep Kirkuk independent.

In this sense Kirkuk presents the fertile ground for such conflict. The position of Kirkuk hangs about Iraq’s key areas of interest. A big town of more than half a million people in the center of northern part of Iraq, adjoining to oil fields holding 40% of Iraq’s oil reserves as well as very feasible and prospective farming land. The history of Kirkuk is not a simple one due to its long history for conflict over oil resources. Central governments in modern Iraq have always denied the ethnic claims of the city, using a range of social, administrative and at times, military measures to retain central government control of the city. The worst operations were commenced by the Baath regime in the 1980s and 1990s. Baghdad sought after the modification the demography of the town and its surroundings to scatter Kurds and Turkumans and substitute them with Arabs.

Kurds have always insisted that kirkuk belongsto them from time immemorial. An interview carried out in mid 2001 revealed a lot in respect to war over the Kirkuk region. Some observers see ‘the Kirkuk question’ as a litmus test for the future of Iraq. As recently as 2 November 2009, The Boston Globe reported that disputes over the status of Kirkuk threatened to derail upcoming national parliamentary elections(Boston Globe,2009).

In this paper I tend to answer the following question: What insight does the current dispute over the status of Kirkuk give to broader Iraqi national politics and the likely future of the republic under the new democratic system? In so doing I will analyze the contemporary political, cultural, ethnic, economic and religious importance of the city of Kirkuk and critique its role in shaping the emerging Iraqi federation through an examination of the 2010 Parliamentary election in Iraq.

Chapter 1

History of Kirkuk

Introduction

This chapter provides a historical account of the city of Kirkuk with particular reference to Saddam’s Hussein era. The history of Kirkuk can be traced back five thousand years ago according to the archaeological artifacts which have been found where the city is currently located. The Assyrians dominated the city of Kirkuk before the close of the 11th century B.C. and so far has been occupied by Turkmen, Arab and the Kurdish another peoples. This chapter analyzes its economic, political and strategic importance. It also focuses on the demography. In order to have clear understanding of Kirkuk’s modern history and the current problems facing the city one should examine the different perceptions of the main ethnic groups that make the majority of inhabitants of the city. Turkmen, Kurds, Arabs have all laid claim to control the city and have their own interpretation of the same history each based on personal dealing and experience. Will most important factors to consider is the importance of oil for the city and for the Iraqi state.

The struggle over Kirkuk was intensified by the establishment of the Iraqi republic in 1958; there was uncertainty over the status of Kirkuk and the future of Iraq. The Kurdish political parties of Iraq wanted the inclusion of Kirkuk in a federal state of Kurdish. However, there were two phases in Kirkuk’s modern history that can best describe the situation in Kirkuk. The first phase was marked by the tragedy of the Turkmen which took place in Kirkuk only one year after General Qasim took power and became a reference to Turkmen’s modern history in Kirkuk. Soon after Iraq attained independence, there was a shift of the Kurkuk demography; by 1959 the population of Kurdish had increased to more one third of the total population of the region while the Turkomans reduced to just slightly above a half of the total population. The incursion of Kurds in into the densely Turkoman-populated region troubled the delicate democratic balance and became the basis for the decades of ethnic conflicts. In the same year, the Kurdish mob, in collaboration with their military and at the initiation of the communists party in Iraq, moved through the city and began killing the prosperous Turkomana and their leaders. The massacre ended after the Baghdad military intervened. The tragedy has left a long lasting impact on the Turkmen-Kurdish relations and it forms an obstacle in today’s politics in the city.

Because of the bad publicity, the Kurds have repeatedly denied any involvement in the massacre and accused the government at that time of trying to ignite an ethnic violence in Kirkuk to justify its military presence in the city; however, Turkmen have rejected the Kurdish claim.

The second phase of Kirkuk’s modern history started during the control of the Baath regime in Iraq. Through the rule of the Baath regime the city of Kirkuk went through a series of both socio-economic and political turmoil with a bid for the Baghdad government to have total control of the oil field in Kirkuk. The first ever attempt which marked the Kurdish history that the current Kurdish political leaders referrer to in their claim over the city, was made by Saddam Hussein to gain control of Kirkuk. A major initiative by the the Baath regime was the encouragement the Arab population to move into the region. This was known as Arabization policy. The program was meant to enable Arabs sympathetic to the Saddam regime control the city and the region around it. In achieving this program, Saddam’s regime forced out the original inhabitants of Kirkuk to other designated locations. Moreover, the government implemented some amendments on the registration procedures to ensure that Kirkuk remained under the control of Sadam Hussein. This actually followed the policy of Arabisation of the city which, amongst other things, demanded that only Iraqis of Arab origin could register as the natives of the city. Subsequent registrations were to be done on the basis of different ethnic groups. The worst affected group was the Kurdish people. In a relentless effort however, the Kurdish people maintained that Kirkuk was their cultural identity, an assertion that led to incessant wrangles and disputes between the Kurds and Saddam’s totalitarian government.

Kirkuk city was equally devastated in terms of the huge Kurds population which was a hitherto moved to the Kurdish regions in neighboring Iran. As a result, constant wrangles persisted between the Saddam’s government and the Kurds on the ownership of this oil-rich region. One of the worst attacks which took place in Kirkuk targeting the adamant Kurdish people was witnessed way back in the late 70s and early 80s soon after President Saddam Hussein had declared himself the ruler of Iraq. Over three thousand Kurdish settlements were pulled down by the Iraqi forces. This destruction was not a one time event but it persisted throughout the reign of Saddam Hussein.

A consequence of the second phase, particularly the Arabization policy have created an ethnic group and added more complexity to Kirkuk’s modern history. Arabs who moved to the city encouraged by the incentives given by Saddam’s regime have also claimed ownership over the city and denied any wrongdoing; nonetheless, Most of the properties given to Arabs belong to deported Kurds. Tension was raised when the deported Kurds moved back to city and demanded a return of their confiscated properties in 2003. The Iraqi constitution however, addressed the problem but political powers failed to agree on a compromised interpretation of article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. While the status of Kirkuk is still unresolved Arabs have sided with Turkmen against the Kurds at least to secure their presence in the city and protect their alleged properties.

It is important to note that the Turkmen and the Arabs are allies because both groups found themselves in a similar situation and needed to be in solidarity in order to fight and defeat their recognized. However, the Chaldo Assyrian is often forgotten in the conflict. Most political analyses these days tend to ignore a historically important community in Kirkuk that have resided in Kirkuk for centuries with strong historical attachment to city. The Chaldo Assyrian (Christians) community has the strongest allege to being Kirkuk’s innovative dwellers. But since the other ethnic groups of Syriac ethnic group of the Chaldo Assyrian origin have laid strong claims to dominate the city, the Christians because of fear maintained a very low profile. Lacking interest in politics and the absence the strong political leadership that could unite all Christens have all contributed to their inactive role. Another reason that justifies the Christians’ absence from Kirkuk’s political scene is the decrease in the number of Christian population in Kirkuk to a point making them irrelevant in determining Kirkuk’s future. However, the majority of Assyrians are taking a neutral stance on most political issues particularly those concerning the status of Kirkuk.

Economical importance

Kirkuk city is generally known for its fertile lands and the wide agriculture activities in the farm lands that spread around the city have generously contributed to the Iraqi economy. Kirkuk is also known for the production of oil and gas for both domestic and industrial use. Oil and gas production is the heart of Iraq’s economy and a fare distribution of its revenue is essential in the future stability of Iraq government and for the stabilization of its prices and economic activities. It will solve the problems of inequality in wealth distribution between the federal and regional government in Kurdistan.

Oil exports forms the backbone of Iraq’s economy and revenue distribution. Kirkuk is the city with secured oil reserves. Oil production in Kirkuk began in 1930 and it holds about 10 billion barrels of oil reserves (Gavish, p. 18)1. 40% of Iraq’s oil and 70% of its gas production comes from the city of Kirkuk. The Iraq Oil Company oversees the oil production activities in Kirkuk. It has helped the country severally during periods of recessions and wars: It holds about eight percent of the county’s 78 billion barrels of oil reserves. For Iraq to achieve stable prices, it has to rely on the optimum use of the oil reserves in Kirkuk. The least damaged infrastructure of Kirkuk’s oil fields makes Baghdad’s government relay heavily on Kirkuk’s oil exports than the oil fields in the South. The Southern refineries were heavily bombarded during Iraq-Iran war and during the operation “Desert Storm” in 1991,

It also holds a majority of the labour force thus reducing the unemployment rate thereby stabilizing the economy. Through oil and gas exports, the Iraqi currency has appreciated in relation to the foreign currencies in times of peace. notwithstanding the mentioning of affluence allocation amongst the national and regional levels of administrations in section one of article 112 of the Iraqi charter.

Discussions have been around in Iraq as to whether the incomes from oil should be allocated all over the state and whether the already signed agreements with (KRG) will be distinguished. Kurds have ignored what is happening and have gone to the extent of signing oil agreement with other foreign oil companies. Although, Baghdad at one point allowed the Kurdish government some control over oil exports from the Kurdish region and use of the national pipeline, but maintained that Irbil would be responsible for paying companies it individually struck deals with. The payment of oil companies has recently devolved into a major conflict between the KRG and Baghdad, resulting in being partially frozen until the conflict has been resolved (IraqCIG_IRAQ_Politics).

Oil production in Iraq is another important internal driver that will shape the nature and extent of stability. It is the potential engine of the new Iraqi economy. The sooner Iraq can increase production capacity and sustain exports the greater state revenues and so the more money that can be spent on stability projects in Iraq.(weak authoritarian). In this sense Kirkuk’s economical value remains crucial to the stability and prosperity of Iraq.

Historically, Iraq has been a country of harmony which encourages people of different races to reside together. Currently it has been under a season of transition where it is facing a lot of challenges. Debates have been held to discuss power sharing between the states and the institution of governance. It has been argued that federations would be the only solution to achieve success in the current situation. The big question among most of the leaders is, will the federation strengthen the national identity and the state as a whole or will it result into state division? All these issues emerged since the 2005 draft constitution (Brancati, p. 3)2.

Some leaders believe that the constitution and federation will work best to deliver the country while others believe that federation will only tear the country further apart. The only solution for this controversial issue is the introduction of a central government. The proposed constitution was passed through an opinion poll held in 2005. Some have criticized it on the grounds of lack of unity. It is argued that the leaders were not united when they were preparing the constitution (Ellen, p. 5)3.

Each political group at the time of constitution writing was mindful of its own interest and not the interest of the general public. What came out of their discussion was a constitution which is yet to be accepted by many; yet still, it reduced the popularity of the Kirkuk. The constitution however, left the doors open for future solutions to some of the country’s major problems. The future of Kirkuk rests at the heart of these challenges that the Iraqi state face during its nation building process. From a Kurdish political point of view claiming Kirkuk as the capital of Kurdistan carries a political importance for the Kurds. Annexing Kirkuk to Kurdistan will strength the Kurdish position and unites all Kurds politically.

The only city that is believed to deliver Iraq out of its present situation is Kirkuk. It has the political power of harmonizing nations because of the close ties to cultural beliefs which are still solid (Izady, p. 107)4. But the status of the city in the current political turmoil remains uncertain. Rich of fertile land and full of natural resources may not always be a good thing.

Strategic importance

Kirkuk is the most strategically located area in northern Iraq. It is among the biggest cities in the southern area of Kurdistan and the fourth in Iraq. The civilization of Matara, Charmo and Kurdish can be traced from it. Kirkuk acts as a border between Iran and Iraq where most of the major strategies have occurred. Purely, it spans the planned trade courses through Anatolia, Iran and Iraq. This has been the main reason for attempts by former powers to settle in the region. This is evident during the Ottoman Empire which acted as the best location for Iraq and Iran.

The strategic importance of Kirkuk became evident in 1907 when many nations were competing for the oil reserve in its location. These nations included America, German, British, French, and the Turkish (Liam & Stansfied, p. 13)5. Of all the crude oil that is exploited from Iraq, half of it comes from Kirkuk. It has been recorded that only four of the oil producing countries claims the same location importance as Kirkuk; Texas in American, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Venezuela. Kirkuk has other natural resources such as coal but oil remains the biggest. Of all the oil reserves found in the world, Kirkuk oil reserve constitute of 7%. It has not been easy to protect Kirkuk from the foreign exploiters, but the Kurdish nationalist have volunteered to protect it and have always been involved in conflicts with Iraq’s former regimes particularly Saddam’s regime about the issue (Herd, p. 4)6.

Demography of Kirkuk

Since the discovery of oil in the city at the beginning of the twentieth century the city became the focus of political powers in Iraq each want to claim authority over it. The important of oil in generating economic and political power has pushed Iraqi successive governments to exercise their powers to maintain their authority and control over the city.

Since the fall of Saddam, thousand of the Turkmen and the Kurds returned to Kirkuk for their lost properties. Some decided to reside there while others chose to stay in camps towards the east of Kirkuk (Leezenburg, p. 136)7.Since 2003, Kirkuk has been a mixed city with Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen with some Christians also reside in the city. Struggle began after Saddam Hussein’s fall. Before he fell, he had managed to capture Kirkuk but was reclaimed after the 2003 war. After the war the Kurds were driven by the desire of owning Kirkuk as their province. The Turkmen were just watching the Kurds movement in fear because they could not comprehend what to do. Kurds forcibly drove out Arabs from their homes and claimed ownership of Kirkuk.

However, demographical figures of Kirkuk shown on the 1957 census were in favor of the Kurdish claim of majority in the city.

So far no one could predict what will happen to Kirkuk but a former diplomat of US holds that an ethnic bomb might erupt before Kirkuk status is finally known.

As at 2006, the Kurds made the biggest population in Kirkuk and held the highest number of political seats. Kurds want to claim ownership over the city of Kirkuk because of its economic advantages and for sentimental purposes (Parker, p. 3)8. They want to claim Kirkuk not only because of its oil reserve but also because they believe that their ancestors resided there.

This claim has always been rejected by the Arabs and Turkmen who argue that Kurds have no historical link to the city. They further dispute that Kurds in post-Saddam period have intensified their Kurdization movement in the city of Kirkuk. The Kurdization policy where Kirkuk inhabitants with non-Kurdish origin are being pressured to leave the city have provoked serious ethnic problems.

They also accuse the Peshmerga of looting the government offices in during the early days of the invasion and destroyed all the public records such as birth and land certificates. Arabs and Turkmen feel that the Kurds wanting the oil reserves of Kirkuk to be able to declare their independent state of Kurdistan. However, Kurds have denied such accusations in many occasions. Mustafa maintained that the whole populace of Kirkuk should together and mutually decide the prospect of the Kirkuk – Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Assyrians — without any outside interference.

This aim seems to be far to reach and each day passes on Kirkuk the situation becomes more complex. The use force proved to be the only way that has united the city in the past. However, in the “new democratic Iraq” the use of force is not acceptable, thus politicians are working towards a peaceful resolution to get the city out of its current stance.

Article 140 of the 2005 Iraqi constitution, deals with problems of territory disputes nature. Although the article set a time frame for a referendum to decide the future of the city it also observes that, before voting for the referendum, some measures had to be employed in order to reverse the invasion which was employed by Saddam during his rule. The invasion was aimed at changing the demography of the city by arabizing areas inhabited by Kurdish and Turkmen. Fortunately or unfortunately, many of the Kurds found their way back after the invasion. The referendum would give the actual number of the Kurds who had returned to Kirkuk (Abdulla, p. 1)9. The referendum was set to take place on November 2007, but was postponed in a hope of better solution. This solution did not arrive over the past 3 years and it is not possible in the near future.

Chapter 2

Introduction

Kirku will go into elections for the first time since it was invaded by U.S in 2003.

Most politicians in Iraq have been head over heels campaign over Kirkuk. This is more so for the Kurds allied with Chaldo Assyrians in one hand and the Turkmen with the Arabs on the other, to control the city through the ballot boxes. There emerged a dispute which altered the election law and there was a threat of delaying the elections. The election was set to take place in January but it was successfully held on March 7, 2010. This delay was partly because of the status of Kirkuk along with other issues.

However, such delay may not be very significant in terms of time but this delay carries with it some problems for the new government. It may delay the Americans from withdrawing their troops as they had promised. Moreover, for the ordinary Iraqis the inability to agree on election date by the political elite would undermine the capability of politicians to solve bigger issues such as territory dispute and the future of Kirkuk.

This chapter is going to analyze the 2010 Iraqi parliamentary election in Kirkuk and its wider implications for Iraq. It will also examine the political negotiations after the election and the process of government forming.

An analysis of the 2010 elections

Since the issue of Kirkuk becoming a problem for the entire country the negotiation in Baghdad had involved other ethnic and religious groups making it hard to reach an agreement. However, parliamentarians especially those who were appointed as a committee to study the situation in Kirkuk and come up with some answers to the Parliament have established a report to the parliament identifying two major obstacles in the road of approving the election law. First is the issue of Kirkuk and the report have identified the need for an election law that include Kirkuk as any other parts of the country. The second issue is related to the Sunni participation in the election and their demand of fairer distribution of Parliamentary seats that could truly represents their number particularly the voters abroad.

The Kirkuk factor

As for Kirkuk Iraqi politicians have been holding petitions for over a year in order to reach an agreement regarding city. This was not the only year that Kirkuk had been experiencing tensions. Tensions have been their even before the rule of Saddam.

Before the 2003 invasion Saddam had succeed in evicting the Kurds and Turkmen from Kirkuk but after the invasion it will not be easy to evict them again by any power as they are more determined than ever to defend it to death. After the invasion the numbers of the Kurds have increased significantly to about 52% of the total population in Kirkuk. The Arabs who occupy about 35% of the population firmly believe that Kirkuk cannot be annexed to Kurdish controlled areas of Kurdistan. Even the other victims of the old regime the Turkmen realized that they could not fight the Kurds dominance in the city alone and decided to join the Arabs (Human Rights Watch (Organization, p. 48)10. These alliances have divided the city into Kurds and some Assyrians (Iraqi Christians) against Arabs and Turkmen.

The elections in Kirkuk for 2010 Iraqi parliament were to be held using the electoral register generated in 2004. This was not accepted at all by the Kurdish people who lamented that this would cause some gross anomalies in the poll results. There was a significant number of Kurds who had occupied Kirkuk for a considerable period of time. The division of Kirkuk into multiple ethnic constituencies was then suggested by UNAMI11. Additionally, the Kurdish parliamentary unit was to obtain more than half of the total allocation. However, this radical proposal was not rejected by the Members of Parliament from the Arab side leading into a deadlock. Another avenue to resolve the deadlock was to be sought. Consequently, the Political Council for National Security took over the matter in order to seek for a lasting solution to the deadlock. The composition of this council included the President and his Premier alongside the affected party leaderships. The electoral rolls were to be harmonized right from 2004 to 2009 according to the recommendations of the Council but again when this proposal was presented in parliament, it did not sail through; the Kurds did not allow it. In the long run, a final legislation was adopted which specified that the poll results in Kirkuk alongside other provinces where there were doubts of the registers would be treated as provisional until a thorough check and balance was put in place to oversee the likely loopholes. This exercise was slated to take place within a span of one year after which all the dubious and fraudulent electoral cases would be done away with. Some of the parties which were to present candidates for various positions included National Iraqi Alliance, Iraqi National Movement, and Iraqi Accord Front among others12.

Most of the Sunni Muslim candidates were among those who were restricted from participating in the 2010 elections. A total of 499 political aspirants were prohibited from the polls by the electoral commission. There were allegations that these candidates had connections with the Ba’ath Party. In spite of the numerous calls and demonstrations to reinstate banned candidates, the electoral commission remained adamant and did not reverse its decision. The rejection of the appeals came shortly before the onset of campaigns. As a result, the Iraqi National Movement withheld their campaigns. This was followed by the immediate withdrawal from electoral race by Iraqi National Dialogue Front Leader, Saleh al-Mutlaq.

The opinion polls just before elections were carried out ranked the State of Law Coalition as the leading party with an estimated 30 per cent of the total voting power. Following closely was the Iraqi National Movement with 22 per cent wile the National Iraqi Alliance was positioned third with an expected support of 17 per cent. The Iraqi Accord Front towed the list with a mere 3 % support in spite of the other parties which were not ranked in the opinion polls13.

The final election results showed little variation from the opinion polls which had been conducted in the run-up to the elections. Iraqi National Movement scooped the top position in terms of votes cast. It secured a total of 91 seats which was an extra gain of 54 seats from the previous results. The Sate of Law Coalition came second while the National Iraqi Alliance was third14. The total voter turnout was computed at 62 per cent. Moreover, the election saw Islamic Group of Kurdistan lose terribly having come last among the major parties.

Kirkuk’s 12 seats were evenly shared between the Iraqi National Movement and the Kurdish Alliance. This however meant that Arabs will play a major role in Kirkuk’s future as they have put an end to the Kurdish dominance in Kirkuk’s parliamentary seats.

The Sunni factor

The 2010, Parliamentary election in Iraq is highly important than any other elections took place in Iraq in the past seven years. Although the previous elections were important and have created a constitution and created a political institutions such as national Parliament elected directly by the people, yet the 2010 election is considered a real test to democracy in Iraq.

There are few reasons that have added more importance to the 2010 parliamentary election. First the Sunni believe in peaceful change of power through an extensive participation in the election. For this reason we have seen for first time on national parliamentary election the Sunnis have marked a 100% turnout in some areas. Second is the alleged US withdraw from Iraq. The withdrawal of occupying forces will give a full sovereignty (at least in the eyes of the ordinary Iraqis) to the next government. Thus, every political power in Iraq wants to be part of the next government even if their share is minimal to claim the political triumph of the U.S withdraw.

The kind of registry to be used in Kirkuk in the election was one of the reasons that have contributed to the delay of the parliamentary election. The percentage of seats distribution was raised by the Sunnis. Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi vetoed the law in opposition to a clause giving only 5 percent of parliamentary seats to minorities and Iraqi refugees abroad15. Al Hashimy argued that Sunni were greatly affected by the law as they make a large percentage of Iraqis abroad. He demanded the law to be revised and Iraqis emigrants would be given more seats before he allow the law to pass.

Another matter was raised when the law was sent back to the Parliament this matter was the accuracy of growth rate in every region. There is no material basis for this theory because there was no national census to base it on. However, in the distribution of seats Sunni regions got the lion share where some Sunni areas increased by almost fifty percent. As for the Kurds they had no increase in their regions.

Although the allocation of seats on the development rate base came on the Sunni act of kindness, the vice-President’s verdict to reject the rule since Iraqi expatriates turned to be like shooting oneself in the foot. whatsoever biases subsisted before were transmitted into new law. Moreover, when Al Hashimy threatened to veto the second draft he was accused of jeopardizing democracy in Iraq. An accusation that entered the United States into direct negotiation with vice-President. Under the US pressure Al Hashimy cynically agreed to approve the second draft.

Conclusion

This thesis has analyzed the prospect for the development of the Republic of Iraq through thorough analysis of the political establishment in the city of Kirkuk which has, for a long time, become the center of conflict since the fall of Ottoman Empire. We have seen that the contemporary history of Iraq started immediately after the falling of the old Ottoman Empire.The democracy in Iraq, with respect to the status of Kurkuk, has been fragile and unstable due to power struggles amongst the regional leaders in Iraq. There was, therefore, series of power changes that htook place through coupes. During the period of non-democratic power struggles, the military was the decision maker about which political party was the next to take power and form government. Therefore, bloody disagreements amongst the political parties were the most visible type of conflicts in the Iraqi political arena. Since the establishment of the Kingdom of Iraq at the beginning of the twentieth century, successive governments have played the role of suppressor authoritarian rather than its role as mediator of governance in a multi-ethnic and religious country. There was a widespread use of assassinations and executions to fix the political enemies as would be perceived by the members of different political parties.

The struggle over Kirkuk was intensified by the establishment of the Iraqi republic in 1958; there was uncertainty over the status of Kirkuk and the future of Iraq. The Kurdish political parties of Iraq wanted the inclusion of Kirkuk in a federal state of Kurdish. However, there were two phases in Kirkuk’s modern history that can best describe the situation in Kirkuk. The first phase was marked by the tragedy of the Turkmen which took place in Kirkuk only one year after General Qasim took power and became a reference to Turkmen’s modern history in Kirkuk. The struggle over Kirkuk was aggravated by the institution of the Iraqi republic in 1958; there was insecurity over the status of Kirkuk and the future of Iraq. The Kurdish political parties of Iraq wanted the integration of Kirkuk into a federal state of Kurdish. However, there were two phases in Kirkuk’s modern history that can best describe the situation in Kirkuk. The first phase was marked by the tragedy of the Turkmen which took place in Kirkuk only a year after General Qasim gained power and became a reference to Turkmen’s modern history in Kirkuk. It is important to also mention that during the period of the rule of the Baath Party, Turkmen suffered marginalization and prejudice from both the Kurds and the Iraqi Marxists who dominated the regime in Iraq.

Chapter 3

Introduction

For the first time, Kirkuk will go for he polls, almost seven years after U.S invaded Iraq. The other regions in Iraq have participated in national elections quite a number of times since the Saddam government were toppled over. The bone of contention lies with Kirkuk. On one hand, the Kurds have always hoped to make it a capital of an autonomous state. This has received a lot of opposition from Iraqi Arabs thereby delaying the process of resolving the conflict.

A huge number of politicians in Iraq have been head over heels campaign over Kirkuk. This is more so for the Kurds allied with Chaldo Assyrians in one hand and the Turkmen with the Arabs on the other, to control the city through the ballot boxes. There emerged a dispute which altered the election law and there was a threat of delaying the elections. The election was set to take place in January but it was successfully held on March 7, 2010. This delay was partly because of the status of Kirkuk along with other issues.

However, such delay may not be very significant in terms of time but this delay carries with it some problems for the new government. It may delay the Americans from withdrawing their troops as they had promised. Moreover, for the ordinary Iraqis the inability to agree on election date by the political elite would undermine the capability of politicians to solve bigger issues such as territory dispute and the future of Kirkuk.

This chapter is going to analyze the 2010 Iraqi parliamentary election in Kirkuk and its wider implications for Iraq. It will also examine the political negotiations after the election and the process of government forming.

An analysis of the 2010 elections

Since the issue of Kirkuk became a problem for the entire country the negotiation in Baghdad had involved other ethnic and religious groups making it hard to reach an agreement. However, parliamentarians especially those who were appointed as a committee to study the situation in Kirkuk and come up with some answers to the Parliament have established a report to the parliament identifying two major obstacles in the road of approving the election law. First is the issue of Kirkuk and the report have identified the need for an election law that include Kirkuk as any other parts of the country. The second issue is related to the Sunni participation in +the election and their demand of fairer distribution of Parliamentary seats that could truly represents their number particularly the voters abroad.

The Kirkuk factor

As for Kirkuk Iraqi politicians have been holding petitions for over a year in order to reach an agreement regarding city. This was not the only year that Kirkuk had been experiencing tensions. Tensions have been their even before the rule of Saddam.

Before the 2003 invasion Saddam had succeed in evicting the Kurds and Turkmen from Kirkuk but after the invasion it will not be easy to evict them again by any power as they are more determined than ever to defend it to death. After the invasion the numbers of the Kurds have increased significantly to about 52% of the total population in Kirkuk. The Arabs who occupy about 35% of the population firmly believe that Kirkuk cannot be annexed to Kurdish controlled areas of Kurdistan. Even the other victims of the old regime the Turkmen realized that they could not fight the Kurds dominance in the city alone and decided to join the Arabs (Human Rights Watch (Organization) 48)16. These alliances have divided the city into Kurds and some Assyrians (Iraqi Christians) against Arabs and Turkmen.

The elections in Kirkuk for 2010 Iraqi parliament were to be held using the electoral register generated in 2004. This was not accepted at all by the Kurdish people who lamented that this would cause some gross anomalies in the poll results. There was a significant number of Kurds who had occupied Kirkuk for a considerable period of time. The division of Kirkuk into multiple ethnic constituencies was then suggested by UNAMI17. Additionally, the Kurdish parliamentary unit was to obtain more than half of the total allocation. However, this radical proposal was not rejected by the Members of Parliament from the Arab side leading into a deadlock. Another avenue to resolve the deadlock was to be sought. Consequently, the Political Council for National Security took over the matter in order to seek for a lasting solution to the deadlock. The composition of this council included the President and his Premier alongside the affected party leaderships. The electoral rolls were to be harmonized right from 2004 to 2009 according to the recommendations of the Council but again when this proposal was presented in parliament, it did not sail through; the Kurds did not allow it. In the long run, a final legislation was adopted which specified that the poll results in Kirkuk alongside other provinces where there were doubts of the registers would be treated as provisional until a thorough check and balance was put in place to oversee the likely loopholes. This exercise was slated to take place within a span of one year after which all the dubious and fraudulent electoral cases would be done away with. Some of the parties which were to present candidates for various positions included National Iraqi Alliance, Iraqi National Movement, and Iraqi Accord Front among others18.

Most of the Sunni Muslim candidates were among those who were restricted from participating in the 2010 elections. A total of 499 political aspirants were prohibited from the polls by the electoral commission. There were allegations that these candidates had connections with the Ba’ath Party. In spite of the numerous calls and demonstrations to reinstate banned candidates, the electoral commission remained adamant and did not reverse its decision. The rejection of the appeals came shortly before the onset of campaigns. As a result, the Iraqi National Movement withheld their campaigns. This was followed by the immediate withdrawal from electoral race by Iraqi National Dialogue Front Leader, Saleh al-Mutlaq.

The opinion polls just before elections were carried out ranked the State of Law Coalition as the leading party with an estimated 30 per cent of the total voting power. Following closely was the Iraqi National Movement with 22 per cent while the National Iraqi Alliance was positioned third with an expected support of 17 per cent. The Iraqi Accord Front towed the list with a mere 3 % support in spite of the other parties which were not ranked in the opinion polls19.

The final election results showed little variation from the opinion polls which had been conducted in the run-up to the elections. Iraqi National Movement scooped the top position in terms of votes cast. It secured a total of 91 seats which was an extra gain of 54 seats from the previous results. The Sate of Law Coalition came second while the National Iraqi Alliance was third20. The total voter turnout was computed at 62 per cent. Moreover, the election saw Islamic Group of Kurdistan lose terribly having come last among the major parties.

Kirkuk’s 12 seats were evenly shared between Iraqi National Movement and the Kurdish Alliance. This however meant that Arabs will play a major role in Kirkuk’s future as they have put an end to the Kurdish dominance in Kirkuk’s parliamentary seats.

The Sunni factor

The 2010 Parliamentary election in Iraq is highly important than any other elections took place in Iraq in the past seven years. Although the previous elections were important and have created a constitution and created a political institutions such as national Parliament elected directly by the people, yet the 2010 election is considered a real test to democracy in Iraq.

There are few reasons that have added more importance to the 2010 parliamentary election. First the Sunni believe in peaceful change of power through an extensive participation in the election. For this reason we have seen for first time on national parliamentary election the Sunnis have marked a 100% turnout in some areas. Second is the alleged US withdrawal from Iraq. The withdrawal of occupying forces will give a full sovereignty (at least in the eyes of the ordinary Iraqis) to the next government. Thus, every political power in Iraq wants to be part of the next government even if their share is minimal to claim the political triumph of the U.S withdraw.

The kind of registry to be used in Kirkuk in the election was one of the reasons that have contributed to the delay of the parliamentary election. The percentage of seats distributions was raised by the Sunnis. Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi vetoed the law in opposition to a clause giving only 5 percent of parliamentary seats to minorities and Iraqi refugees abroad21. Al Hashimy argued that Sunni were greatly affected by the law as they make a large percentage of Iraqis abroad. He demanded the law to be revised and Iraqis emigrants would be given more seats before he allow the law to pass.

Another matter was raised when the law was sent back to the Parliament this matter was the accuracy of growth rate in every region. There is no material basis for this theory because there was no national census to base it on. However, in the distribution of seats Sunni regions got the lion share where some Sunni areas increased by almost fifty percent. As for the Kurds they had no increase in their regions.

Although the distribution of seats on the growth rate base did come on the Sunni favor, the vice-President decision to veto the law because of the Iraqi emigrants turned to be like shooting oneself in the foot. Moreover, when Al Hashimy threatened to veto the second draft he was accused of jeopardizing democracy in Iraq. Under the US pressure Al Hashimy cynically agreed to approve the second draft.

Conclusion

Kirkuk city will hold an election for the first time; it is only Iraq that has been remaining since the invasion which ended the regime of Saddam Hussein. However, it is important to note that several attempts to resolve the disputes over Kirkuk have never been successful and have been postponed for a number of times. Many Kurdish people hope to make the city their capital in their future independent state.

The main interest is to use the ballot boxes in order to determine the control of the Kirkuk city. However, there was a dispute that led to changes in the laws governing elections’ these changes threatened to interfere with the elections as had planned earlier on. Nonetheless, the long awaited elections were successfully conducted on 7th March 2010, though the status of Kirkuk made the elections to be slowed.

Since the issue of Kirkuk became hotly contested, the whole negotiation that took place in Baghdad included other tribal and some other religious groups. This diversity complicated the negotiations that had been going on in Baghdad. Moreover, the politicians of Kirkuk had always made a lot of petitions so that a resolution could be reached fast. The most important thing to note is that even before Saddam Hussein took power, there has been tension regarding Kirkuk. It is noted that after the US invasion, the number of Kirkuk increased tremendously to approximately 52% of the overall population of Kurkuk. The ensuing conflicts led to realignment in which the Turkmen joined forces with the Arabs in order to have a greater force to be able to overcome the dominance of Kurds in the city of Kurkuk.

The electoral register of 2004 is the one that was proposed to be used in the Iraqi’s 2010 parliamentary elections. However, that was contested and rejected on the ground that it would lead to flawed elections and consequently aggravate the current tension. There was a great need for an election law that would include Kurkuk as any other part of Iraqi state.

In the election process, the majority of those who were not allowed to participate in the elections were Muslims of Sunni origin. The restrictions saw a total of 499 candidates prevented from contesting. The underlying reason was that the restricted candidates were suspected to be linked to the Ba’ath party. The restriction decision remained in place despite demonstrations to reinstate them. That one aside, before the elections, opinion polls were carried out. After the elections, the results showed very minimal variation compared to the recent opinion polls just before the elections. Nonetheless, the State Law won the elections.

The election of 2010 was very important in the history of Iraq since the start of the past seven year period. Of great importance was that the Sunni politician accepted a peaceful change of power. Another importance of the elections is the imminent withdrawal of the United State of American military personnel; this would restore full sovereignty back to Iraq. Nevertheless, the conflict surrounding kirkuk may still be a chronin political challenge with both the Kurds and Arabs not ready to take a softer stand on the matter.

Bibliography

  1. Abdullah Mufid. Kirkuk and its dependencies: Historically part of Kurdistan. KurdishMedia.com, 2008.
  2. Brancati, Dawn. Can federalism stabilize Iraq? .The Washington Quarterly, 27: 2, 5 — 21, 2007
  3. Ellen Laipson.The politics of governance and federalism. The centre for international Governance innovation, 2009
  4. Gavish, Haya. Unwitting Zionists: The Jewish Community of Zakho in Iraqi Kurdistan. Raphael Patai series in Jewish folklore and anthropology. Wayne State University Press, 2009
  5. Herd, Graeme P. Weak Authoritarianism and Iraqi State Building. Conflict studies research centre, 2005
  6. Leezenberg, Michiel. IRAQ-Crisis in Kirkuk: Ethnopolitics of Conflict and Compromise. The Middle East Journal Washington Vol. 64, Issue. 1, 2010
  7. Liam Anderson & Stansfied Gareth. Crisis in Kirkuk: The Ethnopolitics of Conflict and Compromise. National and ethnic conflict in the 21st century. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
  8. Izady, Mehrdad R. The Kurds: a concise handbook. Taylor & Francis, 1992
  9. Parker, Randal. The Demographic Battle For Kirkuk. parapundit, 2005.

Footnotes

  1. Gavish, Haya. Unwitting Zionists: The Jewish Community of Zakho in Iraqi Kurdistan. Raphael Patai series in Jewish folklore and anthropology. Wayne State University Press, 2009
  2. Brancati, Dawn. Can federalism stabilize Iraq? .The Washington Quarterly, 27: 2, 5 — 21, 2007
  3. Ellen Laipson.The politics of governance and federalism. The centre for international Governance innovation, 2009
  4. Izady, Mehrdad R. The Kurds: a concise handbook. Taylor & Francis, 1992
  5. Liam Anderson & Stansfied Gareth. Crisis in Kirkuk: The Ethnopolitics of Conflict and Compromise. National and ethnic conflict in the 21st century. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
  6. Herd, Graeme P. Weak Authoritarianism and Iraqi State Building. Conflict studies research centre, 2005
  7. Leezenburg, Michiel. IRAQ-Crisis in Kirkuk: Ethnopolitics of Conflict and Compromise. The Middle East Journal Washington Vol. 64, Issue. 1, 2010
  8. Parker, Randal. The Demographic Battle For Kirkuk. parapundit, 2005.
  9. Abdulla Mufid. Kirkuk and its dependencies: Historically part of Kurdistan. KurdishMedia.com, 2008.
  10. Human Rights Watch (Organization). Claims in conflict: reversing ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq. Volume 16, Issue 4 of Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 2004
  11. Smith, D (2006) p 69
  12. Anderson D. L and Stansfield VRG (2010).p132
  13. Smith, D (2006) pp.545-58
  14. Anderson D. L and Stansfield VRG (2010).p241
  15. Iraq’s new reality
  16. Human Rights Watch (Organization). Claims in conflict: reversing ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq. Volume 16, Issue 4 of Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 2004
  17. Smith, D (2006) p 69
  18. Anderson D. L and Stansfield VRG (2010).p132
  19. Smith, D (2006) pp.545-58
  20. Anderson D. L and Stansfield VRG (2010).p241
  21. Iraq’s new reality
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