Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You want civil war? This is civil war:

Iraq's Kurds Aim for Own Oil Ministry

Leaders of Iraq's Kurdish north have unveiled a controversial plan to consolidate their hold on the region's future petroleum resources, raising concerns about how the ethnically divided nation will share its oil revenue.

The Kurdish parliament will be asked to vote on the creation of a Ministry of Natural Resources that would regulate potentially lucrative energy projects in newly discovered oil and natural gas fields within the three provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan.

..."They have the right to make a decision in their territory, but it is dangerous," said Mohammed Aboudi, a divisional director-general of the national Oil Ministry and a government advisor. "They are starting to search for oil without any consultation with the central government. What if Basra does the same, or any other province?"

... "There are people who haven't faced the reality of what has gone on in Iraq," [Peter] Galbraith [a former U.S. diplomat who has advised the Kurds] said. "They still think that the old central state is going to be put back together again. It's not going to happen in Kurdistan. It's not going to happen in the south. It's not going to happen in Baghdad."...

This takers place against a backdrop of ethnic cleansing in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, which Kurds consider their own:

The oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq has been the scene of ongoing displacement and rising ethnic tensions in the past six months, according to local officials.

...Ahmed Mashhdanny, a senior Kirkuk governorate official, said that more than 200,000 Kirkuk residents have been displaced since 2003 and more than 300 have been killed in ethnic fighting over land.

... "Thousands of displaced people from different ethnic groups -- mainly Arabs -- can now be seen in improvised camps on the outskirts of Kirkuk, as well as in abandoned government buildings and schools,” he said. “Kurds, Arabs and Turcomans are suffering because measures haven’t been taken to secure their rights.” ...

Also see "Kurdish Officials Sanction Abductions in Kirkuk" (Washington Post, June 15, 2005).

Fun fact: Christopher Hitchens often wears a Kurdish flag in his lapel.

(First article also available here.)

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