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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More