Arabs and Turkmen were quick to blame the Kurdish security force the Asayesh. The deputy governor of Tamim for example, said that Asayesh were working under orders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and went door to door for three days distributing the leaflets. He in turn called on Baghdad to warn the ruling Kurdish parties about these activities to get them to stop. An Arab member of the provincial council also demanded that the central government replace the peshmerga in the area with regular soldiers and police, otherwise locals would take up arms to protect themselves. The Kurds in turn, denied any involvement in the episode.
Tensions have ebbed and flow between Kirkuk’s three major communities, Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen, since the 2003 invasion. Kurds have called the city their Jerusalem, and have made its annexation a major demand in negotiations over forming a new government. This has caused nothing but trouble with the Arabs and Turkmen who at the minimum want to maintain the status quo, if not reverse the Kurdish advances in Tamim. The threatening flyers that were handed out was just the latest episode in this on-going drama. Who was actually behind them is unknown, and probably will never be revealed. They could very well be the work of Kurdish parties hoping to intimidate Arabs and Turkmen before the national census, which will likely show a Kurdish majority in the governorate. It could also be the work of insurgents hoping to stir up trouble during the U.S. withdrawal and Iraq’s political limbo. They could use at as a recruiting tool as well. Either way it’s unlikely to be the last provocative story coming out of Kirkuk.
AFP, “Arab families as a refugee in Kirkuk: Asaish trying we moved under threat,” Al-Aalem, 10/2/10
Azzaman, “Kurdish militia ‘terrorizing’ Arabs and Turkmen in Iraq’s Kirkuk,” 10/2/10
Inside Iraq, “Kirkuk and the Up-coming Census,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/2/10