Friday, April 20, 2007

Analysis: Relocation of Arabs from Kirkuk could escalate violence

A father holds his daughter at a hospital in Kirkuk following a March 30 bombing.

The Iraqi government should delay the relocation of Arabs from the northern city of Kirkuk as the move could prompt inter-ethnic tension and violence, analysts say.

On 29 March, the Iraqi cabinet endorsed a decision adopted by a governmental committee to relocate and compensate thousands of Arabs who had moved to Kirkuk, about 250km north of Baghdad, as part of former president Saddam Hussein's 'Arabisation' policy, dating back to the 1980s.

"Any [such] measure should be postponed during this difficult time that the country and Kirkuk are going through," Hafidh al-Jawari, a Kirkuk-based political analyst, said.

Relocating thousands of Arab families who have lived in the area since the 1980s and "turning the city into a Kurdish one overnight will only increase violence between the Kurds on one side and Arabs and Turkomen on the other", al-Jawari added.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet