Tuesday, 17 August 2010

North Oil Company displaces villagers causing further antagonism between Arabs and Kurds

North Oil Company is stirring up antagonism between Arabs and Kurds in the already tense governorate of Kirkuk. The company issued an official demand on 24th July asking that the local authorities evacuate four Kurdish villages in the area to enable it to start drilling there. A source in North Oil Company told the Kurdish media that the firm had issued a letter to the local police asking them to vacate the villages as it had made an oil discovery in the area. The villages are all in the area known in Kurdish as Dobes and in Arabic as Debes.

The demand has caused uproar in the area because the company has only requested that Kurdish villages be evacuated. As Hadi Hama Mustafa, the first deputy of Debes, declared, “What is strange for me is that the request does not ask for evacuation of any Arab-populated villages.” Similarly, the head of the Kirkuk governorate council, Raskar Ali Hama Jan, expressed his view that the company's demands were “astonishing” because, given that there is a huge expanse of land where oil and natural gas are present, the oil must also exist in the Arab and Turkmen villages that are in the area.

The company's demand is being considered as a political move. For the Kurds this issue is particularly poignant because it is reminiscent of the days of Saddam Hussein who repeatedly uprooted Kurdish citizens and forced them to relocate for political reasons.

For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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