Feb 10, 2010

Iraqi Turkmen: Concerns Remain Over Joint Patrols

Sample ImageAccording to US officials in Kirkuk, joint forces enforcing stability without taking any position in the ethnic rifts creating tension in the region of Northern Iraq

Below is an article published by UPI.com:

 A joint security force in the north of Iraq is a divisive issue among Kurdish supporters and opponents in the Arab and Turkmen community, leaders say.

 A joint force in Kirkuk province was established last week. The units are made up of U.S. and Iraqi forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and other Kurdish security divisions.

U.S. military officials in Kirkuk said the joint force is tasked with enforcing stability and does not take any position on the ethnic rifts creating tensions in the region.

Muhammad Kamal, a leader in the Kurdistan Democratic Party, told Iraqi analytical Web site Niqash that the unit was "an element of relief" for the region, praising its integration.

Turkmen and Arab leaders, however, complained the dominance of Kurdish security forces in the joint unit smacks of occupation.

 "Kurds occupy the majority of security positions in the city and the formation of these forces will negatively impact on Arab citizens and their feelings," said Arab leader Muhammad Khalil.

 The Kurdish and central governments are at odds regarding the authority over the so-called disputed territories, an area stretching from Sinjar near the Syrian border to Khanaqin in the eastern province of Diyala.

 Jurisdiction over the ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk, meanwhile, was a sticking point in passing several election laws in Iraq. Tensions in the north of Iraq have lingered since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and the issue is a matter of contention among U.S policymakers.