Wednesday, June 15, 2005
"Guerrillas Kill 29 Iraqis Tuesday, Wound over 100 in North; 3 US Servicemen Dead; Kurds Abducting Arabs, Turkmen in Kirkuk," by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 15 June 2005, http://www.juancole.com/2005/06/guerrillas-kill-29-iraqis-tuesday.html.
Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post report that the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan have used their police and security units in Kirkuk to kidnap hundreds of Arabs and Turkmen in the city. They have been held in prisons outside any legal framework, and some have been tortured. The two intrepid reporters have gotten hold of a US State Department memo on the issue:
'A confidential State Department cable, obtained by The Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the "extra-judicial detentions" were part of a "concerted and widespread initiative" by Kurdish political parties "to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner." '
Kirkuk is a powderkeg. After the fall of Saddam, the city of about 1 million was estimated to be about 1/3 each Turkmen, Arab and Kurdish. But many Arabs have been chased out, and many Kurds have come into the city (in many cases returning to a place from which Saddam had expelled them). Fainaru and Shadid now seem to suggest that the Kurds are about 48 percent of the population, with Turkmen and Arabs a quarter each.
The kidnapping tactics extend to Mosul and perhaps to Tel Afar.
Arab on Kurdish violence could provoke a civil war. Kurdish on Turkmen violence could bring Turkey into northern Iraq, since Ankara sees itself as a protector of Iraq's 750,000 Turkmen.
US military and Kurdish officials denied the abductions or said they had ended, but obviously the State Department does not agree, and Fainaru and Shadid find plenty of evidence that they are continuing.
Good. The 85% of Iraq has been terrorized by an ethnically-based civil war for years. A basic concern for the human rights of Iraqis demands that the 85% fight back.
Juan Cole's ability to delay relay the horror of Iraq, warning of a (future) civil war, is breathtaking.