Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Login

Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using
 

Email

 

Rudaw

Iraq

As Militants Fight on in Iraq, Kurds Worry About ‘Sleeping Cells’ in Kirkuk

By Rudaw 24/6/2014
A homeless Arab man at a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region, where thousands have arrived since the fall of Mosul a fortnight ago.
A homeless Arab man at a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region, where thousands have arrived since the fall of Mosul a fortnight ago.

KIRKUK – Kurdish authorities controlling the city of Kirkuk since mass Iraqi army desertions report large numbers of Arab refugees trying to move into the city, including men they fear could become “sleeping cells” of militants.

Kamil Salayi, mayor of Kirkuk's central district, said that 25,000 Arab refugees had arrived since insurgents led by the extremist Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) began a lightning advance a fortnight ago, conquering cities and closing in on Baghdad, where they aim to topple the Shiite-led government.

“Last week, on Tuesday and Wednesday alone, 400 Arab families moved into the center of Kirkuk, and more people are coming every day,” said Salayi, adding that hordes of refugees had come from the fallen city of Mosul, while others were moving in from Kirkuk’s outskirts.

After insurgents seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, waves of frightened residents fled for the safety of the northern autonomous Kurdistan Region, the only peaceful and prospering portion of Iraq.

But Kurdish authorities did not allow all to enter, setting up temporary camps near checkpoints, as the UN office in Kirkuk evaluates whether to set up proper camps, Salayi said.

Mosul, Tikrit and other cities and towns have fallen to the insurgents following the collapse and withdrawal of Iraqi army forces from large parts of the country.

The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), meanwhile, moved its Peshmerga forces into large swaths of Kurdish-populated territories that are outside its official borders but were abandoned by Iraqi soldiers. That includes the city of Kirkuk.

The Kurds see Kirkuk as the capital of a future state, but Iraq’s majority Shiites also lay claim to the oil-rich prize. Whether Kirkuk would opt to become part of Kurdistan or the central government was supposed to be decided in a 2007 referendum that has yet to take place.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was in the Kurdistan capital of Erbil on Tuesday to try and urge the Kurds to not quit the political process in Baghdad and opt for independence, now that they have Kirkuk. He was to leave for NATO meetings in Brussels, after several hours in Erbil.

Salayi said that the arrival of Arab families would impact the future of the multi-ethnic city.

“We have met the refugees and some of them were single young men,” he said. “When we asked them about the whereabouts of their families, they told us that they went to Baghdad. Many people might have come in that way.”

An official in Kirkuk told Rudaw, “Some families are entering the city without passing through the checkpoints.”

Kirkuk’s demography was transformed by intense relocation campaigns under Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime, when many Kurds and Turkmen were moved out to other parts of the country and replaced by Arabs who were brought in.  

Authorities say that Kirkuk’s Arab population swelled after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam, and again during the height of Iraq’s sectarian conflict in 2006-2007.

Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom the insurgents have vowed to oust, had previously stated that any family living in Kirkuk for 10 years can claim residence. But Kurdish officials had said that could not be.

“These refugees are like time bombs threatening the future of the city,” said an official in Kirkuk, speaking to Rudaw on condition of anonymity.

He claimed that the insurgents had sleeping cells inside Mosul, which had helped the rebels take over almost without a fight.

“There is no guarantee that these refugees in Kirkuk will not become sleeping cells,” he said. “We have very limited information about these individuals.”

Comments

 
Data pager
Previous
Page size:
PageSizeComboBox
select
KIM | 24/6/2014
Increase the size of police, intelligence and Peshmargs in Kirkuk. CItizens cooperation is necessary just like Hawler and Sulaimani. Disarm them.
simber | 24/6/2014
The next terror attack in Hawler will be by these young arab men. who knows, maybe they are recruited by ISIS... get them out of kirkuk, or set up some proper camps with security 400+km away from krg borders..
Guest | 24/6/2014
For safety reasons relocate all sunnis that arrived in the last 6 months to outside Kirkuk. Disarm the Kirkuk poppulation except Kurdish Turkoman & Shia
Flaminco | 24/6/2014
What the hell are the Kurdish authorities doing letting in 1 million mostly Arab people inside Kurdistan? they want the war to spread inside Kurdistan? because that's what they'll get! Gather all their identity cards that shows where they're born, put every one that is not born in Kerkuk or other Kurdish cities in closed refugee camps, they can get permition to move back where they came from any time but no entry into Kurdish cities
TheWiseOne | 24/6/2014
Are serious why are they letting this people in ? Especially single Arab men who claim their families left for Baghdad? If that's the case why didn't they leave with their families for Baghdad? This is a very dangerous development and we could lose Kirkuk. They need to open a refugee camp outside of Kirkuk and not let these Arabs in.
6563 Views

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Renas | 4/25/2018 8:12:21 PM
Its your job Mr Barzani, to unite Kurds, at least in Basur. So if Kurds are not United it means you have not Done your job well!
Hejar | 4/26/2018 2:23:23 AM
Kurds are not United so stop selling. If Kurds were united, they would've fought together in Kirkuk, Nineveh and Afrin. You are now slaves of your...
Without unity, Kurds will achieve nothing in Baghdad, warns PM Barzani
| yesterday at 10:45 | (2)
Rogério Porfírio da Silva | 4/26/2018 12:41:52 AM
hope for prosperity, this nation has suffered greatly. union and peace.
love peshmerga, AK USA | 4/26/2018 1:16:23 AM
Don't believe a word he is saying? he is lying and look he went to Sulaimani to thank Heero and her son for giving him a key to heart of kurds and...
Abadi campaigns in Sulaimani, ‘here to listen’ to Kurds
| yesterday at 12:25 | (6)
Dungeons and dragons 🐉 | 4/25/2018 10:01:15 PM
Yes makes total sense while turkey is breastfeeding about 72 terrorist organizations all those who dares not to aid them will be blamed as ...
Turkish court convicts Cumhuriyet journalists on terror charges
| yesterday at 10:42 | (1)
Kurdistan and USA | 4/25/2018 12:50:06 PM
We understand tour concerns, you are right. The USA could control the entire Middle East if they would spend 50% on the Kurds for what they spend on...
Ant man | 4/25/2018 3:02:40 PM
A ant is bigger therat than failed Pesh
The Peshmerga pose no threat to Iraq
| yesterday at 08:30 | (3)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

Family of Kurdish King Mahmoud disowns member campaigning on Arab list 4 hours ago |

Family of Kurdish King Mahmoud disowns member campaigning on Arab list

my brother Mustafa who has joined the Hikma more
10 Qs: KIU campaigns on nationalist ticket 6 hours ago |

10 Qs: KIU campaigns on nationalist ticket

'we want to resume our struggle in Baghdad and more
Abadi's campaign stop in Duhok cancelled until further notice 10 hours ago |

Abadi's campaign stop in Duhok cancelled until further notice

“It is not unclear when will Abadi pay the more
0.421 seconds