In the following days the PUK and KDP condemned the Day of Rage in Tamim. They claimed that the Arab Council was trying to exploit the demonstrations for their own ends, condemned the attacks upon government buildings and the pictures of Saddam shown in Hawija, and went as far as to accuse the people of trying to stage a coup. The Kurdish Peshmerga Minister also noted that his forces were going to stay in the governorate until it was stable, meaning free of protests. The ruling Kurdish parties were already facing growing protests in Sulaymaniya, and were now confronted with angry Arabs and Turkmen in Tamim. If they grew in intensity, they could disrupt the fragile status quo between Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen in the governorate.
Arabs and Turkmen responded by attacking the new peshmerga presence outside Kirkuk. Arab members of the provincial council called for the Kurdish forces to withdraw on February 26. On March 1, the Iraqi Turkmen Front made the same demand, saying that the peshmerga were illegally in the area. They too were worried that an increased peshmerga presence in Tamim would be a step towards greater Kurdish control there.
Baghdad came down on the side of the Kurds, showing that the protests had scared all those in power. The Deputy Interior Minister condemned the Day of Rage as a coup attempt as well, parroting the KDP and PUK. He mentioned Tamim as one province where protesters were trying to undermine the political process, and criticized the Arab leaders in Kirkuk who called for the peshmerga to withdraw. In turn, he blamed the Day of Rage for the peshmerga being deployed to Tamim in the first place, and that they were only there to help with security. Maliki has increasingly attacked the motivations of the protesters, and tried to limit their scope by using the army and police. Like the PUK and KDP, the premier is worried about the consequences of growing demonstrations.
The 1,000 peshmerga in Tamim has upset the balance within the governorate. Previously, the Kurdish forces were only north of Kirkuk, while the Iraqi army was in the south. Now there are peshmerga to the west of Kirkuk as well. National leaders such as Prime Minister Maliki and Kurdish President Massoud Barzani support the new move out of fear that the protests might challenge their power. Local Arabs and Turkmen however, are afraid that the peshmerga may stay, providing greater Kurdish control over the province, and another step towards annexing Kirkuk and other disputed areas of Tamim to Kurdistan. The new Kurdish forces are probably only in the area as long as there are threats of demonstrations. The arguments they have caused however, show the tensions that exist in the province between the three main ethnic groups that result from the disputed territories. They also display how those in power have found common cause in putting down demonstrations. This intersection of local and national concerns has always been present in Tamim, and this is just the latest example.
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