News / Middle East

Violence on Rise in Iraq's Oil-Rich Kirkuk Area

Violence on Rise in Iraq's Oil-Rich Kirkuk Areai
X
April 04, 2013 8:39 PM
Over the past year, hostilities have flared between Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region and the central government. Attacks and bombings have increased in the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which both governments claim as their own. With tensions showing no sign of abating, many fear the violence will only get worse. Sebastian Meyer reports for VOA from Kirkuk.
Sebastian Meyer
— Over the past year, hostilities have flared between Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region and the central government. Attacks and bombings have increased in the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which both governments claim as their own. With tensions showing no sign of abating, many fear the violence will only get worse.

Four months ago, Tuz Khormatu, a sleepy town 80 kilometers southeast of Kirkuk, became the new frontline between Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region and the central government.

Political tensions over oil rights have flared in this disputed area, which is as rich in fossil fuels as it is in diversity. Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians claim Kirkuk as their own.

Surging violence

Colonel Ismael Rasoul Mustafa - who is in charge of this outpost - has been a Kurdish guerrilla since 1986 when he fought for Kurdish independence from Iraq's Ba'ath regime.

"We're not here to stand against the central government, but we're here to defend ourselves. If they attack us like they did before under the previous regime, we have to defend ourselves," said Mustafa.

The city of Kirkuk, an ethnic melting pot, has seen a significant uptick in violence in the past two months. Bombs have targeted Shi'ite worshippers, Kurdish security forces, and Sunni politicians.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned of the danger of ethnic conflict in Iraq, but Sinan Ismael Khalil, a veteran Arab journalist, said that ethnic tensions exist only at a political level and the real reason for the violence is oil.

"It makes us laugh when we hear it's an ethnic conflict, that the disagreements are based on ethnic problems," said Khalil. "What's the reason for all of this? Oil."

Oil at root of disputes

His sentiments are echoed by many of Kirkuk's residents. Ismat Lawerdy, a Christian pharmacist, said that politicians are responsible for Kirkuk's problems.

"Between the people there are no problems. Kurds, Arabs, Kurds, Assyrian. The problems is with the politicians. Yes, politicians in Baghdad. Here in Kirkuk there's no difference between Arabs or Kurds or anybody," said Lawerdy.

Hussein Mohammad Hassan, from the Sunni area of Hawijah, agrees that sectarian violence is solely a political tool.

"Because of the politicians we are suffering. Only brotherhood and harmony can save us," said Hassan.

As the violence continues, and with regional elections on the horizon, many residents of Kirkuk feel that their oil wealth is more a curse than a ticket to regional autonomy.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
April 05, 2013 5:16 AM
U.S. should support the central government. Those regions believe that U.S. is promoting separatist and this is very dangerous for the region.


by: Nazarins Church from: USA
April 05, 2013 2:18 AM
God will confound them who hate His beloved chosen people...
in the name of Jesus Christ

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid