The Kurdish Imbroglio
By Serge Truffaut
Shiite and Sunni parliamentarians have agreed to make common cause
against the Kurds. When we know that the former direct their energy to
fomenting the culture of resentment between groups, this fact deserves
to be particularly highlighted. It is, in any event, revelatory of a
deep disquietude: that the Kurds simply secede and in that way mark
It's true that since last summer the leaders of the Kurdish
province have been proliferating gestures designed to upset Shiite,
and especially Sunni, leaders. The most spectacular example occurred
last August when the regional government's officials decided to write
their own oil exploration law rather than wait for the one promised by
the central government ages ago.
Immediately following the adoption of this text, which - even
though it is a regional law - involves de facto denationalization of
the black gold, the Kurds concluded a series of agreements with
foreign companies for oil extraction and refining in a region where
the greatest reserves are concentrated. Just before Christmas, it is
important to note, the Norwegian company DNO indicated that the volume
of hydrocarbons at one of the sites was double what had been
Consequently, from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to each lowly
MP, everyone in the capital who could be counted as a political
notable is busy countering the Kurds by claiming that the black gold
belongs to everyone. As though by accident, the central government now
comes along promising the imminent presentation of a law on the
subject after having pussyfooted around for the last three years.
As though by accident (once again!), this same government has just
adopted a law authorizing the reintegration of former Baathists into
official functions and certain professions. In this regard, you must
remember that the decision to axe the former Baathists who were
engineers and policemen, teachers or doctors had the perverse effect
of feeding the ranks of the Sunni militia.
That being the case, the law correcting what was done before was
received in the Kurdish community without enthusiasm. The ravages
provoked under Saddam Hussein's orders undoubtedly remain very vivid
in the collective memory of a people who were promised independence
immediately after ... the First World War.
Another event very likely to strengthen the Kurds' nationalist
feeling has just come to top this series: we have recently learned
that the American military had communicated intelligence to the
Turkish General Staff about the movements of PKK militants in Northern
Iraq, to facilitate the bombardment of their bases. In short, the
table is set for a unilateral declaration of independence.
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