Kurds will stay in Iraq ‘but only if
article 140 is acted upon’: Interview with senior
By Adel Kamal
November 3, 2011
MOSUL, Ninevah, — The state of Ninawa is a
troubled one, with Kurdish and Arab residents in
conflict over politics, power and land ownership.
Niqash spoke to a senior Kurdish politician about
Kurdish military presence there and whether the
Kurdish will push for their own nation.
The local government of the Iraqi state of Ninawa is
one of the most troubled in Iraq. Ninawa’s council
first convened on April 12, 2009, after local
elections that saw the political balance of power
tip in favour of the Hadba list, comprised of
parties with an Arab majority. Hadba’s main rival,
the Kurdish-dominated Ninawa Brotherly List, had
previously dominated the council although this was
mainly because when the first round of provincial
elections was held, the local Sunni Arab population
Mohammed Amin Daloyee is the head of the Mosul
branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the
party led by the president of the semi autonomous
region of Iraqi Kurdistan region. Rudaw photo.
At the time al-Qaeda
were in control of the area. All of which meant that
the Kurdish parties – the Kurdish population is in
the minority in the province - were elected to take
charge after the first provincial elections with a
However after the second round of elections in 2009,
when the Sunni Arab majority did vote, the Arab
dominated bloc took control of the council.
The 37 seats of Ninawa’s council are now distributed
like this: the Hadba list has 19 seats, the Islamic
party and the Shabak and Yazidi minorities have
three seats each and the single Christian
representative, one seat. Kurdish politicians still
managed to gain 12 seats, around a quarter of the
votes, but after the Arab parties took all of the
major positions of power on the council, the Kurdish
walked out. They said they would boycott the council
operations indefinitely due to the unfair imbalance
in leadership positions.
The Christian member of the council has also been
refusing to attend council meetings because,
internal sources say, of pressure from the Kurdish
Additionally a number of Ninawa’s districts, the
ones which have a Kurdish majority living in them,
including Shikhan, Makhmour and Shunnar, also made
it clear that they would not be governed by the new
Arab-dominated council. They also asked that their
districts be made part of the neighbouring
semi-autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan.
But problems in the area do not just revolve around
the distribution of ministerial positions.
Politicians on the Hadba list have also said that
they will not tolerate the annexation of any of
Ninawa’s districts in favour of Iraqi Kurdistan. And
that is even if Article 140 of the Iraqi
Constitution is implemented and finds this to be a
fair solution to former policies of Arabisation.
Article 140 was formulated in 2003 to remedy the
expulsions, the ethnic cleansing and Arabisation led
by former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, through three
steps. These are, firstly, normalization - a return
of Kurds and other residents displaced by
Arabisation – followed by a census taken to
determine the demographic makeup of the province's
population and then finally,www.ekurd.net
a referendum to determine the status of disputed
territories. Obviously whether a territory is home
to mainly Kurds or mainly Arabs will have an effect
on who can lay claim to the area.
The Hadba list also considers illegal the presence
of Kurdish military forces, who say they are there
to protect the lives of Kurdish citizens living in
politicians from within the state’s government have
said that Article 140 is “dead” and that there is no
way it can ever be acted upon. Your reaction to
those kinds of comments?
Mohammed Amin Daloyee:
To those who say that Article 140 is dead or
impossible to implement, we say that this is
nonsense. It is one of the current articles of the
Iraqi Constitution, which was approved by 80 percent
of the Iraqi people.
By saying that this Article is insignificant,
they’re insinuating that the whole Iraqi
Constitution is insignificant too. And those who
think this way obviously do not want a united Iraq.
They’re also expressing hostility toward the Kurdish
For eight decades we have been fighting for our
rights and Article 140 is part of a reinstatement of
some of those rights. We insist that this Article is
correct because we have chosen to live in Iraq as a
Q: Some have
also said that Article 140 does not apply to the
whole of Ninawa, rather, that it only applies to the
city of Kirkuk.
Daloyee: It is
as clear as daylight which areas are being disputed.
There are 16 administrative districts in the state
of Ninawa that have a Kurdish majority. Article 140
tackles three issues: normalization, a census and a
referendum. All of which will allow the people
living in these areas to determine the future of the
district they live in.
Those who say that Article 140 only applies to
Kirkuk are wrong.
Q: Despite the
fact that you were voted into power, your political
coalition has boycotted the state government for the
past two and a half years. How much does your
boycott have to do with how your opposition, the
Arab-majority Hadba list, has taken up most of the
significant posts in the local government - and when
do you think the boycott might end?
we demand a part in decision making in Ninawa. We’re
not as concerned about the governmental posts.
Having said that, because we have 12 seats – that is
one third of the seats in the state government - we
believe we have a right to some of them. We accepted
the results of the election but there are those who
do not want us to participate in decision making.
And this is why we have decided to boycott the
Q: The governor
of Ninawa, Atheel al-Nujaifi, appears to have
attempted to bring your party and the Hadba party
closer together in order to resolve this dispute.
But your party doesn’t seem to be responding well to
Daloyee: If the
Hadba makes one move, then we will be happy to make
two. But words should be followed by deeds – and
unfortunately this has not happened. Negotiations
between the two lists are taking place at the
highest levels but as I said earlier, the biggest
obstacle to any resolution is the way in which our
members have been marginalized and excluded from the
decision making process.
there’s been deterioration in state services in the
16 administrative districts under Kurdish control.
So who is responsible for that deterioration: the
Kurdish politicians or the state government?
areas are still the responsibility of Ninawa's
provincial authority. And they’re suffering because
of the unfair way in which the state’s budget for
development was distributed, both this year and last
year. For example, the Sinjar district – which is
one of the poorest in Iraq with a per capita income
of one Iraqi dinar a day [US$0.80 cents] – has
suffered injustice and deprivation for decades.
Saddam Hussein did not allow the Kurdish people in
this area to earn a living and they are still
suffering today. The provincial council continues to
neglect this area – despite the fact that floods
destroyed property and displaced hundreds of people
in April 2011.
Q: There are
politicians who have called for the removal of
Kurdish security and military forces in the region,
the Peshmerga and the Asayish. They consider them an
illegal vanguard of a greater military force
sponsored by the semi-autonomous state of Iraqi
members of the Peshmerga did not come from another
planet. They’re often residents of the areas in
which they work. And generally, they have intervened
because they were asked to do so by Iraq’s former
prime minister Ayed Allawi. If the Peshmerga had not
been deployed in places like Sinjar, Tal Afar,
Bartella and Zamar, then terrorists would have
claimed the lives of many more innocent people.
People have absolute confidence in the Peshmerga –
we don’t attack anyone and we do not accept to be
attacked. Terrorism doesn’t care whether you are
Arab or Kurdish.
Q: What is your
assessment of the security situation in Ninawa?
Daloyee: So far,
it’s stable but let’s be honest: the city of Mosul
will not be safe or secure unless there is proper
cooperation between all parties, especially the true
representatives of the Ninawa province. Terrorists
are continuously targeting the Kurds and official
statistics indicate that more than 2,000 Kurds have
been killed in the city of Mosul. Tens of thousands
have left the city and many of them have lost their
homes. Politicians deliberately overlook this, or
even twist the truth.
Q: Recently a
National Reconciliation Conference was held in Mosul
– the purpose of these conferences is to try and
heal ethnic and religious divisions in the Iraqi
community. What are your thoughts on these kinds of
Daloyee: As a
party, and as a political bloc, we are for national
reconciliation. We always extend our hand to the
Arabs and we care about Basra and Baghdad as much as
we care about Erbil [the capital of the
semi-autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan]. We want
to build up all the cities of Iraq in the same way
that we want to build up Kurdistan. President
Massoud al-Barzani has confirmed this on many
occasions. But it should also be acknowledged that
we have rights, we have a heritage and a history and
our own language – and we have decided to live in
Those who say that Article 140 of the Constitution
is no longer relevant are pushing the Kurdish people
to demand secession. We, the Kurdish people, have
chosen to live in Iraq but only if Article 140 is
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