July 16, 2010
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Without unraveling Kirkuk crisis, Iraq cannot be stabilized - Baqi Barzani

Short after the liberation of Iraq, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) dispatched its agents all over the country to conduct brief interviews with Iraqi nationals residing in the United States. The agency was deeply involved in seeking the views of exile Iraqis about the war being waged, especially those of political opponents, ex-military service members and experts in Iraqi domestic and foreign affairs.

Most of the interviewees expressed profound support and gratitude to the US forces. Some offered material and intellectual assistance. Some joined the US intelligence agencies and some were recruited as specialists and linguists in Iraq and Afghanistan. A very trivial number, however, flayed the US policies and objected to the war.

Almost all Iraqi earnestly forewarned US officials to exercise extreme caution in respects to venerating Iraqi religious sanctities, cultural barriers, sectarian prejudice, ethnic divide, protection of sensitive sites, civilian casualties and treatment of enemy combatants and ordinary Iraqi people.

Americans liberators were received with ardent salutations and unique ovations at the inception. Later, by simply neglecting those key advices, the subject gradually capsized. Antipathy to US presence, bloody internal sectarian feuds and foreign influence all transpired soon afterward.

The US Department of Defense further exacerbated the circumstances by defraying hundreds of millions of US dollars to amateurish foreign contractors, with very scant or zilch acquaintance to Iraqi culture, history and society. Waste, abuse and mismanagement of government’s funds can widely be still perceived in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lack of requisite training to US troops and critical knowledge on behalf of hired cultural advisors culminated in committing some serious gaffes that shoddily tainted US credibility as liberators’. 

With the drawdown moment nearing, most Iraqi citizens voice great worries about the future of historical Kurdish city of Kirkuk in conjunction with other disputed territories. They foretell of the worse nightmare if a supervised referendum is not held to constitutionally determine the status of Kirkuk city. They attempt to draw the US attention to the dangers confronting their country.

The unsettled status of Kirkuk city poses the greatest threat to the political stability and national unity of the country. The issue of Kirkuk is of the greatest essence and laid emphasis on again and again. If Kirkuk has remained largely free of violent ethnic conflict since the April 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein’s regime, it should be indebted to US constant presence, otherwise, Iraq would long have been tangled in second civil war.

General Raymond T. Odierno, the current commanding general of US forces in Iraq, proposed a third party mediatory force to oversee the state of affairs in Kirkuk and other disputed territories after the pullout of US troops. The UN may be able to preserve the status quo, however, ultimately, a workable solution has to be sought to end the longstanding crisis, an affair that can more resourcefully be coped with by the United States, due to its more understanding of Iraqi politics. Having harvested vast amount of experience in Iraqi affairs over the last 7 years, the United States can better mediate between the leaders of Kirkuk’s communities as well as representatives of the federal government and the Kurdish federal region. The US has more influencing power than any other state or organization.

Without unraveling Kirkuk dilemma, Iraq cannot be stabilized. Given the high stakes, the U.S cannot afford to stand by, allowing the situation to slip into chaos by default.

Hopefully, the wishes, concerns, viewpoints and predictions of Iraqis will matter this time in trying to aid their American counterparts succeed.


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