News / Middle East

    Q&A with Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim: Peshmerga to Stay 'As Long as Necessary'

    Members of the Kurdish security forces stand at a checkpoint during an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Kirkuk June 11, 2014.
    Members of the Kurdish security forces stand at a checkpoint during an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Kirkuk June 11, 2014.
    VOA News
    The security situation in Iraq continued its lightening deterioration Thursday as Kurdish forces swept into the strategic northern city of Kirkuk after government troops fled attacks by al-Qaida-linked Sunni insurgents.

    The militants, who seized two other key northern cities this week, moved closer to Baghdad while threatening to advance into the heavily Shi’ite south and target holy shrines there.

    VOA’s Jeffrey Young spoke with the governor of Kirkuk province, Najmaldin Karim, about the movement of Kurdish Peshmerga forces into that province to protect the city from ISIL insurgents.

    Young: What is the situation today in Kirkuk?

    Kareem: Kirkuk is a large province. The Arab-inhabited areas in the west and southwest fell to the terrorists two days ago. The rest of Kirkuk – the city itself, the [province’s] north, east and southern areas towards Baghdad – these are all secure and safe and the situation is normal.

    Young: What is the size of the Peshmerga military force that has moved into Kirkuk?

    Kareem: They are in charge of defending the city from the insurgents, [who have] made a couple of attempts but we repulsed them. The size, I don’t have exact numbers, could be around 15-16,000.

    Young: How did the movement of Peshmerga take place? Who did you communicate with?

    Kareem: Peshmerga forces have their own command. There is a Peshmerga Ministry. After the army fled and abandoned [its positions], we requested they come and defend most of Kirkuk from the insurgents, to prevent the same thing that happened in Nineveh and Salahaddin.

    Young: I take it from what you’re telling me, there is little or no confidence in Kirkuk Governorate that the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad would be able to supply sufficient military or security forces to protect the province?

    Kareem: The army doesn’t exist in Kirkuk. It doesn’t exist in a lot of places – in Nineveh and Salahaddin, in parts of Diyala province, in addition to Anbar. As I said, In Kirkuk, [the soldiers] have all left, they’ve deserted. There’s no army anymore in Kirkuk.

    Young: How long do you want the Peshmerga force to stay in place in Kirkuk Governorate?

    Kareem: As long as necessary.

    Young: Does that mean they could establish a permanent presence and become the semi-military security apparatus for the Governorate?

    Kareem:  They could, yes. Anything we can do to protect our people within our areas – we will not hesitate to use them.

    Young: The Peshmerga are obviously a Kurdish force. Kirkuk Governorate also has other people, Turkmen and a certain number of Arabs living there. Describe how you work this out, so that all parties living in Kirkuk are comfortable with the Peshmerga coming in and becoming the security force.

    Kareem:  We have always had Peshmerga in Kirkuk. We just increased their numbers by about one-third. And the governing council, which includes Turkmen and Arabs, has agreed and sees the necessity of having the Peshmerga.

    Young: Do you see the possibility of Kirkuk moving closer to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as a result of this new development?

    Kareem:  It depends on what happens in Iraq as a whole. As you know, Kirkuk – along with some other areas in Iraq - is covered by Article 140. As far as an immediate political step, we are trying to control the security situation for the time being.

    Young: Do you think the current situation will lend itself to closer ties between Kirkuk and the three governorates that are controlled by the KRG?

    Kareem:  There are close ties between Kirkuk and the KRG, just like the relationship with Baghdad. It all depends on Iraq. We don’t even know whether Iraq will remain a unified country. I don’t want to speculate on what’s going to happen a month from now, six months from now.

    Young: Can you share anything regarding the communications you’ve had with Baghdad over the last several days regarding this situation?

    Kareem:  We are in continuous contact with officials in Baghdad. Our administrative offices are all connected. We get our budget from Baghdad, our police force is part of the Ministry of Interior, which is in Baghdad. We talk to officials frequently to coordinate. They know the army has collapsed. They understand there’s a need to protect these areas and prevent the terrorists from moving into the rest of Kirkuk.

    Young: Thank you very much, Dr. Kareem.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Azad Dewani from: United Kingdom
    June 16, 2014 8:27 PM
    The areas that Peshmerga control now in the province of Kerkuk are majority Kurdish areas with Turkeman minority. The Arab areas are under the control of Arab tribal and ISIL militants. Kerkuk is a Kurdish province and those Arabs were brought by the Iraqi regimes to change the demography of the province. However, These areas are contested and claimed by Kurds since the creation of Iraq as a state. However, the Iraqi government and Kurdistan regional government agreed according to article 140 of the Iraqi constitution to solve this problem. Kurds have waited for 10 years but the Iraqi central government ruled by Arabs is not willing to solve the problem. The refusal of Iraqi government is supported unfairly by the US administration. Its time now that Kurds execute partially this article in the majority Kurdish areas of the province and allow Kurds and Turkmen to live as part of the people of the Kurdish region or as human beings who suffered for a long period of time from the Arabizing policies of denial and pressure. It is wise that the US administration not to lose its only real ally (in addition to Israel) in the Middle East (Kurds) because it wants to favour the status quo that has been brutally imposed upon the Kurdish people. It is time for the independent Kurdish state; real ally of the West and Israel

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora