Disputes between the Ninewa Fraternal List led by the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the new ruling party in Ninewa al-Hadbaa continue. On June 1, 2009 IraqSlogger reported that there was a shoot out between the peshmerga in the Sinjar district and tribesman. Many of the tribes in the province supported al-Hadbaa. Five civilians were killed in the fighting before Iraqi security forces arrived and secured the area. On May 28 300 people gathered in the Telafar district demanding that they become independent from the province. The protestors said they had been neglected by the provincial council, and complained about the new al-Hadbaa governor Atheel al-Najafi. There was a similar protest on May 17 in the Shikhan district. That district, plus Sinjar and Hatra have suspended their cooperation with the al-Hadbaa controlled provincial council. The Kurdistan Regional Government has also ordered the peshmerga to stop any provincial official from entering these areas. As reported before, this led the peshmerga to stop Governor Najafi from going to a sporting event in a Kurdish controlled town. The provincial police chief was also denied entry to another Kurdish area in May as well.
The problems started in April 2009 when al-Hadbaa, who had won 19 of Ninewa’s 37 council seats, took all of the positions in the local government. In response, the Ninewa Fraternal List walked out and announced that they were boycotting the new provincial government. Governor Najafi has said that he will allow the Fraternal List positions if they recognize the borders of Ninewa and withdraw the peshmerga. According to IraqSlogger, a leading Kurdish politician responded by stating that the issue of the peshmerga was between Baghdad and Kurdistan, and that the governor should not be involved. Now deadlocked, both al-Hadbaa and the Fraternal List have been going to Baghdad to try to get the central government to force the other side to give in.
Time is probably on the side of al-Hadbaa. The Americans have told the Fraternal List that since al-Hadbaa won a majority in the provincial elections they have the right to form the government they want. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is also looking for new Sunni partners to run with in the 2010 parliamentary elections, and might align with al-Hadbaa. The threat is that without mediation violence could ensue between the two competing parties. Ninewa is already one of the most deadliest provinces in Iraq, and this divide plays into the hands of the insurgents as well who portray themselves as the protectors of Arabs against the Kurds. The U.S. held up the 2009 provincial elections and the participation of Sunnis as an important turning point in Iraqi politics. The situation in Ninewa shows that at least in that part of Iraq, it might have just made things worse.
For more on the political divisions in Ninewa click on the "al-Hadbaa" label below.
Associated Press, “Iraqi provincial election results,” 2/19/09
Aswat al-Iraq, “Shaykhan protest calls for boycotting Ninewa’s local govt.,” 5/17/09
- “Talafar’s residents demand its separation from Ninewa,” 5/28/09
Bakri, Nada, “Dispute Over Land Simmering in Iraq,” Washington Post, 5/18/09
Dagher, Sam, “Tensions Stoked Between Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis,” New York Times, 5/18/09
Hamad, Qassim Khidhir, “arab domination rejected by kurds in makhmour,” Niqash, 5/22/09
IraqSlogger.com, “Ninewa Gov Presses Case with B’dad Officials,” 5/13/09
Reilly, Corinne and Abbas, Ali, “Kurdish-Arab tensions continue to grow in northern Iraq,” McClatchy Newspapers, 4/14/09
Smith, Daniel, “Othman to Najafi “Don’t Interfere,”” IraqSlogger.com, 5/30/09
- “Sinjar-Clashes Leave Five Wounded,” IraqSlogger.com, 6/1/09