U.S. Consul General to Kurdistan Condemns
Zakho Booze Burning
December 5, 2011
Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The U.S. government
condemned the events that happened in Zakho, Duhok
Governorate, last Friday, when liquor stores,
massage places, hotels and the office of an
oppositional party were burned down.
U.S. Consul General to Kurdistan, Alexander Lascaris,
urged the Kurdistan Regional Government to restore
calmness and order in the area and to start an
investigation of the events.
"This is a crime against the coexistence of nations
and religious tolerance, the people of Kurdistan
should all live together," Lascaris said.
U.S. Consul General to Kurdistan, Alexander Lascaris.
He did not mention the arson of the headquarters of
the Kurdistan Islamic Union.
After Friday prayers, dozens of rioters burnt down
more than 30 liquor stores, four massage centers and
three hotels in Zakho, near the Turkish border.
Reports say at least 32 people were injured. Rioters
were allegedly encouraged by a Muslim preacher,
Ismael Osman of Zakho's Rasheed Mosque, who
reportedly has ties to the opposition group
Kurdistan Islamic Union. Although KIU, which is
inspired by the controversial Muslim Brotherhood,
denied having any "preachers to be exploited as the
instigators of the events", counter-rioters set the
KIU headquarters in Zakho on fire.
The riots have widened the gap between ruling and
opposition parties in the Kurdistan region. The
Kurdistan Regional Government, run by the Kurdistan
Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, quickly blamed an imam with ties to the
oppositional KIU. Salahaddin Mohammed Bahaddin, head
of KIU, claimed that the cleric was "a KDP man".
To justify that they had no role in the unrest KDP,
led by Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Massoud Barzani, met
with the foreign representatives in Erbil today. The
KPD politburo and diplomatic representatives of the
24 countries with missions in Kurdistan met in Saad
Abdullah Conventions Center. The event was arranged
by Kurdistan Office of Foreign Relations.
Hemn Hawrami, a KDP leader, spinned the story for
the foreign representatives and for reporters. He
said the KPD had no role in the trouble which was
created in Zakho, Duhok and Semel and other areas of
Duhok Governorate. "Unfortunately the KIU very
unjustly have linked KDP in these events," Mr.
He said the KIU "illogically and apolitically"
involved KDP in the event "therefore we precisely
elaborated the situation for the entire diplomatic
corps in the region."
"We cannot sideline the rule of law in Kurdistan and
allow any party to impose its own narrow religious,
sectarian or national doctrine on the Kurdish
community. Therefore, we will not allow for
attacking Kurdistan under any pretext," Hawrami
Observers believe that there could be more about
Friday's events than just sectarian tensions between
conservative Muslims and alcohol-consuming
Christians. Iraq and the Kurdistan Region did not
play a role in the Arab Spring,www.ekurd.net
both have not seen protests like in neighboring
Syria. However, there have been smaller protests in
February, calling for reforms and demanding KDP and
PUK loosing their grip on power.
Despite the fact that the Kurdistan Region appeared
to be "the better Iraq" -- the autonomous region
enjoys foreign investment, economic growth and a
stable security situation -- many Kurds demand a
greater share of the region's wealth. The events in
Zakho might be linked to frustrations over public
services and the perceived shortcomings of the
Kurdistan Regional Government, the KRG.
By Rebin Hassan
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