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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/4/17

Iraq rejects displaying Kurdish flag in Kirkuk fearing establishment of Greater Kurdistan

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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The Iraqi parliament on Saturday, April 1, 2017, voted against raising the flag of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on public buildings and institutions in the city of Kirkuk.

In a session attended by 186 members of the 328-seat parliament, the MPs voted in favor of flying only the Iraqi flag on Kirkuk's public buildings.

Kurdish lawmakers have walked out of the session before the vote. Last week, 26 Kurdish members of Kirkuk's provincial assembly voted in favor of raising the KRG flag alongside Iraq's national flag outside the city's public buildings and institutions.

The Iraqi government says Kirkuk is administratively dependent on Iraq's central government, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party demands Kirkuk's incorporation into the autonomous Kurdish Region.

Kirkuk's population is mainly composed of Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish inhabitants.

Kurdistan regional government (KRG) controls parts of Iraqi Kurdistan estimated to contain around 45 billion barrels of oil, making it the sixth largest reserve in the world.

The RKG has signed direct deals with global oil companies. In 2011, US Oil Company Exxon signed a deal with Kurdistan for six oil blocks scattered around the Kurdish autonomous region.

Kurdish officials say they have a constitutional right to do so, but the central government dismisses the oil transactions as illegal.

In October 2012 Kurdistan's oil has begun to reach international markets in independent export deals that further challenge Baghdad's claim to full control over Iraqi oil.

After the US invasion in 2003 Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani took advantage of America's support and refused to sign the Iraqi new constitution if the broad autonomy special status was not included. He managed to achieve his goal. The disagreement with Baghdad followed, especially related to the oil-rich province of Kirkuk. Barzani warned he would struggle for independence in case no accord is reached. A clash bodes serious bloodshed; the Peshmerga's strength is estimated to be around 200 thousand, a force to reckon with. So far all efforts by Iraqi Prime Minister to bring the Kurds under strict central government control have failed.

In early April, 2012 Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani visited the US to meet top officials, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Barzani informed the US leaders about the current political crisis in Iraq and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's "disrespect" to the articles of the Erbil Agreement and the country's constitution. President Barzani also met with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He encouraged American business to invest in Kurdistan and launched the America-Kurdistan Business Council, which consists of American companies investing and operating in Kurdistan. Being a guest of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Barzani said in unambiguously that "if a solution to the increasing centralization of power in the prime minister's hands cannot be negotiated, he may ask the Kurdish Region's Parliament to consider a referendum to determine the way forward." [1]

There are 5.3 million Kurds in Iraq, about one-sixth of the population of over 30 million, the majority living in Iran, Syria and Turkey with significant Kurdish diaspora communities in Armenia, Georgia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Russia, Lebanon and, in recent decades, some European countries and the USA.

In June 2006 the new Middle East map [2] prepared by retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters was published in the Armed Forces Journal under the title of Blood Borders: How a better Middle East Would Look. Among other things the map reduced Turkish landmass and featured a "Free Kurdistan" that included additional territory taken from Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Iraq was presented as just a fragment of what it is now, carved up to also include Sunnis Iraq and the Arab Shia State.

The term "New Middle East" was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the "Greater Middle East."

This announcement was a confirmation of an Anglo-American-Israeli "military road map" in the Middle East, according to Mahdi Darius Nazemoaya [3] who adds: This project, which has been in the planning stages for several years, consists in creating an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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