Ninewa province and its districts
The recent mass casualty bombings in Ninewa have only added to the on-going dispute between the ruling al-Hadbaa party and the Kurdish Ninewa Fraternal List to the point that the U.S. is offering extra troops to help patrol the province. On August 7, 2009 there was a bombing of a Turkmen Shiite mosque in the provincial capital Mosul that killed 38 and wounded 140. On August 10, two truck bombs leveled the town of Khazna, ten miles east of Mosul killing 28 Shabaks and wounding 155. Finally, on August 13 a suicide bomber detonated his device in a café in Sinjar in western Ninewa killing 20 Yazidis and wounding 35.
Ninewa’s minorities have often been caught in the middle of the battle for control between Arabs and Kurds, so it was no surprise when Al Hadbaa and the Kurdish List used the bombings to attack each other. A senior Kurdish politician in Mosul said al-Hadbaa was directly involved in the violence, and that Arabs were trying to ethnically cleanse the Kurds from the province. The Kurdistan Regional Government went farther saying al-Hadbaa was responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 Kurds and the displacement of both Kurds and Christians. Governor Atheel al-Najafi replied by saying that the bloodshed benefited the Kurds because it justified the continued presence of their peshmerga in the province. The al-Hadbaa controlled provincial council also said the Iraqi army and police should take over security for the entire province and replace the Kurdish forces, an idea rejected by the Kurdish List.
The situation has grown so tense that the U.S. commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno has proposed increasing the U.S. troop presence in Ninewa. He has recently met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Kurdish President Massoud Barzani about creating joint U.S.-Iraq-Kurdish patrols in the disputed areas of the province. The general said that Al Qaeda in Iraq is exploiting the political differences to carry out their attacks and sow dissension. The U.S. has tried similar things in Tamim province, but has only been successful in the Kirkuk area. While this tactic might improve security, it would only be a band-aid on a growing wound.
What is needed is some kind of power-sharing agreement between al-Hadbaa and the Fraternal List, but they seem intractable. In June 2009, the Sadrists in parliament sent a delegation to Ninewa to try to negotiate between the two sides, but failed. More recently, the Iraqi Islamic Party gave it a go, but neither side was willing to compromise. The United States is now working on the issue behind the scenes.
In the meantime, the inflammatory rhetoric continues, and 16 of Ninewa’s 37 administrative units, which are majority Kurdish, are boycotting the provincial government and threatening to create their own independent administration. The insurgent attacks were meant to incite just such responses, and the two political lists in Ninewa seem to be intent on accommodating them.
Aswat al-Iraq, “KRG blames Hadbaa for murder of Kurds, displacement of Christians in Mosul,” 8/14/09
- “Kurdish list says Ninewa to see serious escalation if govt. fails to intervene,” 8/15/09
- “Sinjar suicide blast casualties up to 55,” 8/13/09
Al-Badrani, Jamal, “Kurds in troubled Iraqi province threaten to secede,” Reuters, 7/19/09
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United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, "Iraq Report - 2008," December 2008