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Kirkuk situation has "stabilized".

Summary: Peshmarga intends to protect "all" ethnicities

Peshmarga Forces Minister refuses to withdraw the Kurdish security force from sensitive Kirkuk province.

After the Arab Political Council urged Arabs to attack security and the local administration during the protests on February 25, the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Peshmarga deployed thousands of armed Peshmarga forces to Kirkuk province.

Some Arab political sides in the province stood against the existence of Peshmarga in the province and denied Kirkuk's being a Kurdish city. Those sides consider the existence of Peshmarga destabilizing to the security of the city. An announcement decreed by the Arab bloc in Kirkuk's provincial council stated that "Kurdish Peshmarga and Asayish (security) forces must leave Kirkuk."

KRG Minister of Peshmarga Forces, Sheikh Jafar Mustafa, reported that Kurdish Peshmarga forces would not withdraw from the province in order to keep security and stability there.

The head of the Ubeid Tribe in the province, Sheikh Riadh al-Ubeidi, responded to the Arab bloc and said Peshmarga forces bring about security and stability outside and inside Kirkuk province. "Peshmarga has come to protect the lives of all ethnic components in Kirkuk province." Al-Ubeidi said Peshmarga forces were deployed due to an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil in order to stand against any kind of insurgency. "We have to welcome those forces because Peshmarga forces are in Kirkuk province not only to protect Kurdish people in the province but to protect ethnicities like Arabs, Turkomen and others."

Ala Talabani, member in the Iraqi Council of Representatives in the Kurdistan Alliance list, noted that what happened in Hawaija and Riyadh districts was due to an already-planned plot. "If there were not Peshmarga forces, the same scenario of Hawaija and Riyadh would happen in Kirkuk."

Over the past few weeks, protests were held in many parts of Iraq calling a better living standards and jobs, but some ex-Baathists and Sahwa (Awakening) Council members forces--supported by insurgent groups like Naqishbandiya--in Hawaija and Riyadh in Kirkuk province protested, set fire and looted some governmental institutions due to a plot.

"It is because of Peshmarga forces that the situation in Kirkuk is normal and far removed from terrorist acts. Peshmarga forces are not militias, and it has always been proved that Peshmarga support the people and fight dictatorship," Talabani stated.

Meanwhile, the commander of U.S. forces, the representatives of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, KRG Ministry of Peshmarga and Interior Ministry held a meeting with the delegates of the Kurdistan Region President's Office over the existence of Peshmarga forces in Kirkuk province.

"The meeting was serious, and we exchanged our views. It resulted in bringing about a new mechanism to protect Kirkuk and its different ethnicities of Kurds, Arabs, Turkomen and religious sects from terrorism," said Jabar Yawar, the spokesman and secretariat of the KRG Ministry of Peshmarga.

Yawar noted that the mechanism decides the method of deploying forces in Kirkuk and surrounding areas, especially south and southeast of the city. "We decided to observe the mechanism in cooperation with the KRG Ministry of Peshmarga, Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the commander of U.S. forces."

The Iraqi Council of Representatives held a session on March 10 that turned into a dispute over the issue of deployment of Peshmarga forces in Kirkuk. The disruption came after the TurkMAN MP in Parliament criticized the Peshmargas' deployment in the province and voiced his opposition to a Kurdish MP's reading a statement about the situation in the province of Kirkuk.

"Arshad Salehi, a Turkoman and MP from the al-Iraqiya list, read a report about Kirkuk and pointed to inappropriate allegations over the deployment of Peshmarga. Although we had our comments about the report, we said nothing in order to keep order in the Parliament session," said Said Rasul Khoshnaw, Kurdish MP in the Iraqi Council of Representatives.

Khoshnaw also stated that when Khalid Shwani, MP in Kurdistan Alliance list, started to read a report to clarify some ambiguous points, Parliament members in al-Iraqiya prevented him from speaking. "This brought about chaos and resulted in postponement of the Parliament session."

Major Gen. Jamal Tahir, the Commander of Kirkuk Police Forces, reported to the media that Kirkuk's situation is normal and has stabilized. "All security forces are now working altogether to protect the city."

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Publication:The Kurdish Globe (Erbil, Iraq)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 13, 2011
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