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A Message to the Kurds - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqi Sunni Arabs have defended the so-called ‘Support Councils’ that Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki wishes to establish. These ‘Support Councils’ have been described by some as a tribal militia loyal to Al Maliki. This is a dangerous development to Iraq as a whole and to the Kurdish element within Iraq specifically.

An Iraqi source informed me that ‘sectarianism has been halted for a time, while ethnic division has come to the fore’ since Nouri Al Maliki attempted to rally Sunni Arabs to confront Kurds in Mosul, Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salah Al Din governorate

Al Malaki’s goal in forming these Support Councils is to rally support in preparation for his forthcoming conflict with the Kurds, which is his main reason for trying to court the Sunni Sahwa (Awakening) movement. The Al Maliki government is well aware that Sunni Arabs in Iraq feel a sense of injustice due to the antagonistic behavior they face at the hands of the Kurds. And so it seems that Al Maliki wants to take advantage of this fact and maneuver his opponents, in this case the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds, to attack one another. The end result of which would be that whoever emerged victorious would also emerge exhausted, for such a confrontation would prove deliberating for both sides.

The question then is; what about Iraq?

Iraq will certainly be the greatest victim of this political irrationality, which will fuel ethnic divisions in a country already suffering from sectarian ones, and will result in a lack of trust between all components of a unified Iraq.

As for the Sunni Arabs, and especially the Sahwa Councils, they should remember that if Al Maliki was interested in preserving their rights, he would have been more even-handed in his treatment, bearing in mind that the Sahwa Councils have sacrificed their lives in order to expel Al Qaeda from Iraq.

If Al Maliki wants to do good in Iraq and for the Iraqis as a whole, he should attempt to diffuse the sectarianism issue by preventing the degradation of those labeled without substantial proof as followers of the former regime, and in the process are forced to flee to Syria, Yemen, or elsewhere.

Therefore, it is up the Sunni Arabs to heed this danger, and avoid playing with fire and being dragged into Nouri Al Maliki’s scheme, where one of his opponents clashes with the other, leaving the victor easy prey for Al Maliki and his Islamic Dawa Part.

The Kurds must grasp this simple message. It is up to the Kurds to defuse this forthcoming situation, whose first step can be seen in Maliki’s attempts to unite the Sunni Arabs against them by forming Support Councils, and by bringing together the Sahwa movement who feel wronged by the Kurds.

The Kurds must deal positively with the Arab Sunnis, and stop antagonizing them, whether by targeting their homes, or causing tension by alleging that Arab Sunnis made gains under Saddam’s regime.

The Kurds must always remember that the threat to the gains they have made since the fall of the Saddam regime comes not only from Iraq internally, but also from those countries in the region who have everything to gain if the Kurds were to lose everything they have worked for.

President Massoud Barzani has already warned that these Support Councils are playing with fire, and so it is up to the Kurds themselves to diffuse this situation for unless they do, it will be as the Arab poet said, it will result in “bodies and discord.”

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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