Kirkuk: The Final Battle
Kirkuk is considered to Kurds to be one of the oil rich cities of Kurdistan and to be almost as a “Crown Jewel” for the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Kirkuk has been a city ravaged by sectarian violence on a scale that isn’t seen anywhere else in Iraq.
The Kurds of Kirkuk were expelled by Saddam’s regime and Arabs loyal to his party were moved into their homes instead. For the refugees of this town they have waged a bitter ground war and war within the new fledgling Iraqi democracy. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim Al-Jafaari and soon to be Jawad al-Maliki, has been a great disappointment to the Kurds and many Iraqis over many issues, but Kirkuk above all other things.
As people lay in the once beautiful sports stadium of Kirkuk, today families lay in garbage and filth as they have no homes or security within the city. For the nearly two million residents of Kirkuk the great oil wealth of the city has been of almost no use. People wait in lines all day to fill their tanks with Petrol and watch their local economy become nothing but a pile of scrap metal much like the cars that most drive within the city.
The Arabs are not leaving the city of Kirkuk without a fight. Some say that I shouldn’t blame them as it is their hometown. The fact of the matter is that it is not. These were Ba'athist loyalists who stole the homes of Kurds living within the city and aided in bulldozing over the Kurdish villages in Kirkuk. All eyes have turned to Kirkuk as the sectarian insurgency wages on as bitter as ever. The KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) has vowed to bring Kirkuk back within Kurdish control but with no help from Baghdad. This is no pot shot at the United States or the newly forming Iraqi government per sae, but rather a test of will for the entire country of Iraq.
The key to winning in Kirkuk as in all of Iraq is justice. Justice for the expelled people of Kirkuk and justice for all the sects within Iraq to come together under a Jeffersonian pluralistic democracy. As hard as it may be for those once loyal to Saddams regime to accept, Kirkuk is a Kurdish city and must be under Kurdish control and expelled families must be allowed to return if we are to have justice in Kirkuk. This ravaged city is the model for the rest of Iraq to solve its sectarian problems. The heart of the sectarian insurgency can be found in the Kirkuk and if this can be broken the rest of Iraq will follow suit, as we will have a model to work off of. Much like how D-Day altered the course of the war in Europe during WWII, Kirkuk is that D-Day. This time without the amphibious landings and military liberation. We will witness a D-Day of compromise and justice occur in this heavily divided oil rich city that will deliver the biggest blow to what is fuelling much of the sectarian violence in the country.
Winning Kirkuk is key and Baghdad with the Shi'ite coalition can not kick this ball down the field and hope to actually build any sort of cohesion in Iraq to move forward.