would be turned over to the Americans. They are to eventually give way to joint U.S.-Iraqi-Peshmerga checkpoints. The U.S. military and Baghdad negotiated the pullout. The Kurds had actually begun removing their forces on March 28.
The peshmerga were deployed to western Tamim on February 24. This was in anticipation of the Day of Rage national protests in Iraq. On February 25 there were violent protests in the towns of Riyadh and Hawija, some of which focused their anger upon the Kurdish presence in the province. The KRG claimed that their forces were in the area to counter terrorists and Al Qaeda who were trying to exploit the demonstrations. The real reason was to suppress further marches. Now that they have subsided, the peshmerga are ready to exit, defusing one major crisis in Tamim.
|New Tamim Governor Karim at swearing in ceremony (Rudaw)|
As a further sign of the growing friction in Tamim, there was a fight at the Kirkuk Technological Institute. On March 28, Turkmen students were preparing for Martyr’s Day, which celebrates 20 Turkmen who were killed in the 1991 uprisings against Saddam Hussein following the Gulf War. They got permission from the dean, who then revoked it. That angered the organizers who then staged a protest. Kurdish students attacked them, leading to eleven people being injured. The provincial council had to step in to diffuse the situation. In a city full of competing groups and interests, a public exhibition of pride can lead to trouble as the Turkmen students at the Institute found out.
Kirkuk city and Tamim province are part of Iraq’s disputed territories with Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians all laying claim to parts of them. Despite all of the recent upheaval with the deployment and withdrawal of new peshmerga units, disputes over the political leadership of the governorate, and the attack at the Kirkuk Technological Institute, the competing groups have settled into a rough status quo in recent years. Similar arguments have erupted in recent times, and new ones are certain to emerge in the future as well, but they have not shaken the rough balance between the competing groups. Unfortunately, the government in Baghdad and Kurdistan are too caught up in their own petty power struggles to deal with Tamim, so this situation is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
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