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Iraq and the Kurds: The Past, the Present, and the Future
Transcript of Iraq and the Kurds: The Past, the Present, and the Future
A Look at the Region
Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region of the state which lies in the highlands of Northern Iraq and is populated by Iraqi Kurds.
The Groups Involved in the Conflict
A History of the Conflict
The Iraqi-Kurdish conflict revolves around two main groups. The Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi government, with the Iraqi people playing a role as well. However the people of the region are a complex blend of ethnicities and political divisions; and more groups play a part in the tale.
Overall Iraq Population
The Kurds, numbering 20–25 million, are the largest ethnic group in the world without their own state. The semi-nomadic people are divided along the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Armenia, and Turkey. The Kurdish are united by culture, ethnicity, heritage, religion (largely Sunni Muslim) and language (Kurdish). They occupy northern Iraq, and are seen a minority. Disputes over land and resources have led to multiple conflicts as well as disagreements about the best method to govern the region leading to discord within the group itself.
Iraq consists a wide variety of ethnic groups totaling 36 million, with ongoing conflicts between one another. Along with the Kurds, other minority groups such as the Yazidi, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Turkmen have contributed to the tension in the region. Nevertheless, the majority of the population speaks Iraqi Arabic and practices Shia Islam, constituting 75% of the population.
Roots of the Conflict
Kirkuk is a major source of oil for the Iraqi government.The city plays a major part in both economic and territorial conflicts in the state. The Kurds believe that Kirkuk is Kurdish territory. This was because Kirkuk was a place that held great religious and cultural meaning for the Kurdish people. They also wanted Kirkuk to be incorporated in the Kurdish federal region to formally establish control over the city.
The Iraqi government had kept the Kurds under control for many years. The ongoing disagreements has caused Iraqi Kurds to be left unrecognized. The Kurds had asked to claim back their rights in terms of equality, identity, and language. After many years of dealing with the conflict with Iraq , Kurdistan had finally achieved limited autonomy; but the push for a separate state still remains.
In the Kurdish region, the dominant religion is Sunni Islam, which makes them a minority in a Shia-dominated Iraq. Disputes over religious rights, practices, and buildings have increased the conflict between the two groups.
The Iraqi government was created in 1919, starting out as a dictatorship. Overtime, the government has evolved into a parliamentary democracy with a federal system of government. The government is divided into the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The religious minority groups in Iraq also have political representation. However, Iraq has had a history of taking discreet actions to ensure that the voice of minority groups such as the Kurds, is muffled underneath the opinions of the majority.
A Solution for the Conflict
In order to achieve equality for both regions in terms of rights to resources, we have drafted a plan of action:
1. Agree on a negotiated pact to stop taking unilateral action and, draw up a negotiated solution for disputed boundaries and oil and gas contracts.
2. Establish a system of power sharing within Baghdad, allowing all Iraqi groups to participate.
3. The Iraqi government should aim to pay back Kurdish oil companies as soon as possible.
4. The KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) should reach an agreement with Iraqi govt on how much oil they are will to export through the national pipeline
5. International oil companies along with the countries themselves should not favor either side ( economically and politically) , especially Turkey.
6. The UNAMI should send a task force to address conflict between the groups, esp, around the trigger line.
The Hydrocarbons Conflict
In order to acheive peace over boundaries and territory, we have come up with a solution:
1.Begin with negotiations over disputed territories, while involving all religious and ethnic groups in each discussion.
2. Set a task force between disputed boundaries to prevent conflict, especially in Baghdad and Erbil
3.Integrate all subdivisions of the Kurdish forces as well as all Iraqi forces .
4.Resolve issues between Kurdish and Iraqi forces, especially along provincial boundaries.
5.Encourage negotiations in order to establish a grand bargain over Kirkuk.
6.Invite UNAMI to play a greater role in negotiations against Kirkuk.
7.Agree for KDP and PUK unity on Kirkuk issues.
Throughout their history, thousands of internally displaced Kurds, Turkomans and others have returned to Kirkuk and other Arab-populated regions to reclaim their homes which have been settled by Arabs from central and southern Iraq. Iraq has tried to maintain strict control over areas the Kurds claim as theirs.
Climax of the Conflict
Anfal is the name given to a succession of attacks against the Kurdish population in Iraq during a specific period; this referring to the entire Kurdish genocide. The genocide consisted of an estimation of 1 million people in Iraq to have gone missing in the 1960s, as many as 182,000 Kurdish martyrs, and women and children who vanished or were taken to internment camps. Kurdish villages and towns were destroyed. This event left a scar on the Kurdish people forever.
Kurdistan's Regional Government (KRG) has signed many agreements with many countries in order to have independent sales of its oil. These agreements have infuriated Iraq which has tried to claim sole authority over Iraqi oil exports. Rights to oil and other resources have resulted in a great economic divides between the groups.
Present State of Affairs
The high production of oil is helping Iraq gain wealth , but it has encountered many conflicts with other countries over terrorism and resources. On the other hand, Iraqi Kurdistan is seeking foreign alliances as well as creating areas for tourism in order to stabilize its regional economy. Although peace talks continue to occur, there are still many issues that drive these groups apart, mainly centered over resources and land.
Will These Solutions Work?
Our solution provides examples of negotiations which ensure the decreasing of tensions in the future. Iraq gains limited rights to the resources while the Kurds gain rights to land and the promise of security within their region. On the other hand, this solution may not appease the Kurds who still have strong nationalist view points nor the Iraqis who believe the region should belong to them completely. This region may still have many political issues, but compromises must be made.
The language that dominates the majority of northern Iraq is Kurdish. Throughout the region's history, both sides have tried to assert the dominance of their language. Although the Kurdish language has gained recognition, it still remains a topic of debate.
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Iraq: In Kurdistan, Land Disputes Fuel Unrest | Human Rights Watch. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
"Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hydrocarbons Gambit." - International Crisis Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
"Iraq and the Kurds: Trouble Along the Trigger Line." - International Crisis Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
"Iraq and the Kurds: Resolving the Kirkuk Crisis." - International Crisis Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.
"Iraq's Kurds: Toward an Historic Compromise?" - International Crisis Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.
IRAQI KURDS AT CROSROADS. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.
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PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
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Sources for Images
Sources for Images
Although the situations of different stateless nations vary greatly, similarities can still be observed. All three of the groups researched by our peers( Kashmir/India and Pakistan, Catalonia/Spain, Europe/Roma) were set apart by language, culture, and history. All three groups were also valued for their economic and/or territorial contributions. However the differences in the politics of the regions differentiated the groups. The number of groups in the conflict also varied along with the region.The type and severity of conflict was also different, and thus the relations between the two groups in the present varied as well. All in all the similar structures of these conflicts contrast with the wildly different outcomes they resulted in. The information of the other stateless nations helped my partner and I to link the ideas of similarities following the same vein of conflict, yet one nation experienced calmer protests.
By exploring the conflicts around stateless nation, we have learned the effects of ethnocultural forces on the political organization of an area. We have learned that important geographic concepts such as migration and culture, play a large part in developing power relationships between two groups; we have observed throughout all these stateless nations that questions over identity can often be the driving force behind ethnic conflicts. Through this project we have been able to observe the intricacies of these processes and redefine our perception of the interplay of socio-political themes involved in each of these case studies.
Through our observations of various stateless nations we have been able to apply the concepts and geographic themes involved in these disputes to current conflicts that follow a similar vein. The processes which occur in these ethnic conflicts still occur today. Pakistan gained its independence from India through a civil war; years later, Pakistan and India still have disputes over Kashmir, but this time mainly over territory. This illustrates that disputes can occur over both land and culture. The conflict between the Roma and Europe represents that disputes may occur because of a community that does not abide by the law. Finally the conflict between Catalonia and Spain help us recognize that a nation can come into being based on a marriage, and the title of power can be received without any violence. These ideas can relate to groups such as the Russian Federation, and Palestinian Arabs because just like the stateless nations which were covered,they are also facing problems over a variety of issues.
Thus the different case studies we have looked at over the course of this project have greatly impacted our perpective on our stateless nation, reinforced important geographical themes and added to our understanding of current events.