Dec 28, 2011

Iraqi Turkmen: Trials of Employment in Kirkuk

Finding a balance in Kirkuk is proving difficult amidst high unemployment, the city’s patchwork of communities and missives from Baghdad that seem out of touch with realities on the ground.

Below is an article published by Rudaw:

Yusuf Muhammad, 37, a resident of Kirkuk, feels sorry for not seeing a better and safer Kirkuk where he could find a job.

Muhammad who has a graduate degree told Rudaw, “I cannot understand what all these Kurdish officials are doing here if they cannot offer someone like me a job,”Muhammad maintained that most of his friends are unemployed.

Some Kirkuk residents believe there is injustice in the province’s employment rates. According to the latest data from the provincial council, half of the number of government employees are Arabs, %25 are Turkmens, %23 Kurds and only %2 are Christians.

Nasrin Khalid, deputy director of Kirkuk’s employment committee said that her office has no exact information about the number of employees in public institutions.

“We have requested this information from all the public institutions several times, but no one replied to our request,” said Khalikd. “The number of Kurdish employees were very low in the previous years, but now it has improved to a certain degree.”

Kirkuk’s Provincial Council consists of Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen and Christian members. Placement of government employees for these ethnic groups is a disputed issue among the members of the council.

Abdulrahman Mustafa, the former governor of Kirkuk and a Kurd, said he was often criticized for giving more jobs to the Kurds.

“Many ministries have filed complaints against me for employing more Kurds,” Mustafa said. “I have always tried to create a balance in the numbers of employees. When I was the governor of Kirkuk, the number of Kurdish employees was very low. Some institutions did not have a single Kurdish employee. The North Oil Company had only 18 Kurdish employees, but we made it reach 1000.”

The only institution in Kirkuk where Kurds make up the majority is the police. The Arabs and Turkmen say the police department has been completely taken over by the Kurds. But Jamal Tahir, Kirkuk police chief dismissed this claim.

“Baghdad is constantly trying to send us officers and employees from other provinces, but we reject them,” Tahir said. “Our members must be from Kirkuk. We have nearly 11,000 policemen and the Kurds do not form the majority of this number. We have more Arab policemen.”

However, an informed source told Rudaw on condition of anonymity that “%41 of Kirkuk’s police force are Kurds.”

According to some government charts obtained by Rudaw, Kurdish positions in government institutions are as following: %41 in the police department, %18 in the directorate of electricity, %12 in agriculture, and %12 in education.

In the bank and oil sector Kurds seem to have the lowest number ofemployees. Out of 15,000 employees in the oil sector, there are only 1,100 Kurds.

Rebwar Talabani, the deputy head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council believes that the best way to stop the Iraqi government from sending employees from out of province is “to ask for a decentralized administration for Kirkuk.”

“We have already done that, but unfortunately they do not answer ou request,” said Talabani. Talabani maintained that charts and data of employment in Kirkuk are among the most classified documents of the province and no party would reveal it so that “the truth remains unknown”.

Hala Nuraddin, an Arab member of the provincial council rejected claims that Kurds make up the minority in public institutions, saying, “on the contrary, Kurds form the majority, but not in the oil companies because it belongs to the ministry of oil and Baghdad is controlling placements directly,”

Nuraddin said they have proposed a new system for employment “in order to create a balance”.

Meanwhile, Turkan Sukur, a Turkmen member of the council, said that employment rates based on ethnicity in government and public institutions changes from one place to another.

“In some institutions the ratio of Turkmen employees is bigger, while in some other institutions you can find a majority of employees from either the Arab or Kurdish ethnicities,” said Sukur.

Sukur blamed the Iraqi government for this imbalance.“We cannot implement the orders of Baghdad because there is no balance in the employment orders they send. We have ethnic problems in Kirkuk and this must be taken into account,” Sukur said.