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Nineveh Kurds Threaten to Secede

IslamOnline.net & News Agencies

July 19, 2009

MOSUL Ś In an escalation of rising tension in the oil-rich northern province, Iraq's Kurds threatened Sunday, July 19, to secede the northern province of Nineveh from the Sunni Arabs.

"If no solution is found, we will be forced to form the Nineveh council to run the 16 administrative units," Kurdish councilor Derrman Khitari said, reported Reuters.

He said that he would ask the central government in Baghdad to divert part of its Nineveh budget.

Nineveh, which is one-third Kurds and two-third Arabs, has been boiling since the January provincial polls, which saw the victory of the al-Habda Sunni party, replacing the old Kurdish administration with a new Arab government.

Kurdish groups refused to participate in the local government, and several Kurdish towns are not respecting the new elected leadership.

Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, an Arab, was unable to enter the Kurdish town of Bashika in May.

Though Kurds deny it, many maintain Kurdish fighters were given "a shoot to kill" order against Nujaifi.

On Sunday, the Kurdish Peshmerga troops defied Nujaifi's decision to eliminate the militia fighters from Mosul, the capital of Nineveh.

"Al-Nujaifi's recent statements reflect his personal views, and possibly the opinion of his political bloc, but do not necessarily reflect the position of the constitutional authorities of the federal government in Iraq or its laws," Gen. Jabar Yawar, spokesman for the Kurdish Regional Government's Ministry of Peshmergas, told the German Press Agency dpa.

"His statements are unenforceable."

Kurds claim parts of Diyala and other provinces bordering their autonomous northern region of Kurdistan, an allegation refuted by the federal government in Baghdad.

Illegal

Nineveh governor Nujaifi threatened harsh response to any Kurdish attempt to secede.

"Their demand is illegal and the constitution will not endorse it," he told Reuters.

"It violates the provincial council law.

"If any local council within these areas violates the constitution, we have the authority to dissolve it and form a new one," he warned.

Nujaifi, however, said that the door was still open to dialogue to resolve the dispute.

A delegation of Shiite Arab politicians from the movement of firebrand Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr is mediating between the two sides, but have yet to produce results.

The central Iraqi government also called on Kurds and Arabs to seek dialogue to resolve their conflict.

"This bickering will not serve anyone or lead to stability," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

"All powers who were elected must be included."






:: Article nr. 56170 sent on 20-jul-2009 04:38 ECT

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