Friday, July 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Kurds emerge as winners in Iraq chaos

By
From page A1 | June 20, 2014 |

MULA ABDULA, Iraq — Among rolling wheat fields with machine-gun fire rattling in the distance, Kurdish fighters patrol the new frontier of their autonomous region of northern Iraq, dozens of miles from their official border. In front of them are Islamic militants, behind them is the Kurds’ newly captured prize, stretches of oil-rich territory.

In Iraq’s chaos, the Kurds are emerging as significant winners — and their victories are fueling sentiment among their population to declare outright independence.

As Sunni insurgents swept over a large chunk of northern Iraq and barreled toward Baghdad the past two weeks, Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga seized territory of their own, effectively expanding the Kurdish-run region into areas it has long claimed. Most notably, they grabbed the oil center of Kirkuk. And in contrast to the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, which is in turmoil, the Kurds are growing more confident, vowing to increase oil sales independent of the central government.

The gains have also brought the Kurds challenges barely imaginable just days ago. They must defend a new, 620-mile (1,000 kilometer) frontier against Sunni insurgents, led by an al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Some 300,000 Iraqis who fled the insurgent advance have flooded into Kurdish areas, an extra burden to an already cash-strapped autonomy government.

And the Kurds risk a backlash. In Kirkuk, Sunni Arabs and ethnic Turkmens — who have long opposed Kurdish claims over the city — threaten a revolt if the Kurds don’t share administration of the city and any oil revenues.

Still, the sense of exuberance is palpable among Kurds, who make up 20 percent of Iraq’s mostly Arab population.

“Now that the peshmerga took back our disputed areas, we should have our own country. We deserve it,” said Khaled Ismail in the Kurdish area of Khazer.

The 19-year-old student wants independence so Kurdistan can sell its own oil and have the status statehood brings, like a passport, representation internationally — and a national soccer team. “If we had a Kurdish team in the World Cup, it would be great,” he said.

Another man pointed to the strength of the peshmerga in contrast to the troops of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, who collapsed in the face of insurgents.

“The peshmerga and al-Maliki’s army are as different as the ground and the sky,” said 59-year-old Ahmed Omar, wearing traditional Kurdish baggy pants. He also wants statehood. “We don’t want other people to interfere in our affairs.”

Declaring independence — and formally fragmenting Iraq — is not easy. The United States and neighboring Turkey oppose Kurdish independence. And the Kurds can expect constant clashes not just with insurgents but also with Iraqi forces if they unilaterally break away and claim the areas they grabbed, said Kurdish analyst Hiwa Osman. “If the Kurds want true independence, (there) has to be a treaty,” he said.

Given that resistance, the Kurdish government is pressing for even greater powers of autonomy but not full independence.

The Kurds’ territorial grab is substantial. The recognized Kurdish autonomous region — defined as three northern provinces — effectively expanded by 40 percent, estimated Gareth Stansfield, an expert on Kurdish affairs.

The peshmerga moved into territory all along the edges of their region, from near the Rabia border crossing into Syria in the northwest to the city of Jalula in the southeast near the Iranian border.

The Kurds say the move was to protect those areas when the military fled after the Islamic State captured the northern city of Mosul on June 6.

But many of these areas have large Kurdish communities that the Kurds have demanded be incorporated into their zone — making them unlikely to give them up.

This week, the peshmerga patrolled the frontline separating them from Sunni insurgents along wheat fields in an area known as Mula Abdula. The area is more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the official Kurdish zone’s borders. The area was littered with bullet casings, and gunfire and the occasional thud of a tank shell could be heard from fighting further down the road.

Some 15 miles behind them, in Kurdish hands, was Kirkuk and surrounding oil-rich lands.

“It’s by far the biggest field in the north, and now the Kurds sit on top of it,” Stansfield said.

The Kurdish autonomous zone has its own oil resources, currently producing about 220,000 barrels a day, and it has long argued with Baghdad over sharing revenues from that oil. The Kurdish government in May sold oil independently of the central government for the first time— around 1.05 million barrels, shipped to Turkey. In retaliation, Baghdad stopped giving the Kurds the proportion of the central budget they are entitled to receive.

Safeen Dizayee, the Kurdish regional government spokesman, said the Kurds intend to increase independent oil sales, aiming for 400,000 barrels a day.

“The more we can produce, the more we will sell,” he said.

He did not say whether they would take the more provocative step of selling oil from Kirkuk. Stansfield said it wouldn’t be difficult to pump Kirkuk’s oil to the nearby capital of the Kurdish zone, Irbil. If that happens, “the geography of the oil industry could change quite quickly.”

Such an explosive move would signal the Kurds’ intention to keep Kirkuk, where they have a large population. It would infuriate not only Baghdad but also Arabs and Turkmen who live in Kirkuk and also claim it as their own.

On Kirkuk’s edge, a leading Arab tribal elder said heavily-armed men were waiting to see if Kurds would share administration of the city and its oil.

If not, “then we must have an uprising against them,” said Sheik Abdul-Rahman al-Awaidi. “Nobody is stupid enough to give up Kirkuk.”

A leading Turkmen official said his community is also arming, partly to defend against militants but also in case Kurds won’t share Kirkuk. “Turkmens need to defend themselves,” said Arshad al-Salihi.

In a Kirkuk market, men busily bought weapons looted from abandoned army bases. Nearby, Kurdish police patrolled in uniforms emblazoned with the colors of the Kurdish flag — red, white and green with the emblem of a golden sun.

Further north, Kurdish officials are dealing with 300,000 Iraqis who fled there the past two weeks — adding to 260,000 Syrian refugees and Iraqis who fled earlier fighting already in their areas.

The Kurdish government has promised its doors remain open and that it will give all the help it can. But many of the new arrivals say they have no intention of going home.

“We can’t go back, we have nothing to go back to,” sighed Aida Jabal, a 54-year-old from Mosul now in a camp near Irbil. “My neighbors said a shell hit on our house and it collapsed on itself.”

Stansfield said the Kurds could cite the cost of caring for refugees to convince the West to consent to it selling oil independently of Baghdad.

And now with Iraq falling apart, Kurdish officials clearly feel vindicated in their longtime calls for greater federalism that Arabs, both Sunni and Shiite, had criticized.

“We are not the ones who should be accused of the disintegration of Iraq,” said spokesman Dizayee. “Others are helping to take Iraq in that direction.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

The Leaven to open center in Parkway Gardens

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

 
CSP Solano inmates make music for rehabilitation

By Krissi Khokhobashvili | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Friday concerts begin Aug. 1 at Solano Town Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B3

 
Organizers seek riders, volunteers for Ride to Defeat Diabetes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Travis Dairy killer remains jailed after latest plea

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Bay Area’s air district issues Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Assembly candidate Henthorn to appear at GOP dinner

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
Police chase shuts down EB I-80 in Vacaville

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: July 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Daily Republic seeks good news for column

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A12, 22 Comments

.

US / World

Execution offers evidence against lethal injection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Judge argues for return of firing squad executions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

California removes lane splitting guidelines

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Outcry saves rare redwood from being chopped down

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Satellites show major groundwater loss from Colorado River

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Obama wants limits on US company mergers abroad

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Toxic algae closes Oakland’s Lake Temescal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

SF professor charged with taping students in bathroom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California man gets 4 years in counterfeit case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California wine collector set for sentencing on fraud charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
House panel clears way for vote on Obama lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Feds cap fines for not buying health insurance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
House, Senate chairs offer competing bills on VA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Doctor fired back at gunman in hospital attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Social Security’s $300M IT project doesn’t work

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

More US girls now getting cervical cancer vaccine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Storm slams Virginia campground; 2 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Islamic militants seize part of Syrian army base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Iraq elects new president as attacks kill dozens

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ukrainian prime minister announces resignation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

As inmate died, lawyers debated if he was in pain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

 
Is parenting being criminalized in America?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

Coyote epidemic in Fairfield

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: July 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

Review: Allen casts a limp spell in ‘Magic’

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Lucy’ won’t stretch your brain capacity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Robert Downey Jr. open to returning for ‘Iron Man 4’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay to go wild with ‘Manimal’ movie

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B2

 
Kiss, Usher, J.Lo to perform at Fashion Rocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Pop star Azalea talking fashion on MTV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Jon Bon Jovi to be honored for humanitarian work

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Malkovich, Cumberbatch make Comic-Con premieres

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar July 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

Stonestreet: Acceptance will grow for gay athletes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Eagles soar past Expos in Area 1 tourney

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
Moss powers A’s past Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Indians win 14-8 over Mudcats

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B7

 
Hudson solid, Hammels better in Giants’ loss to Phillies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

49ers’ Smith plans to meet soon with Commissioner Goodell

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Manning getting used to new faces on Broncos

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Raiders CB Hayden to start camp on PUP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Nibali wins Stage 18, closes in on Tour victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Pucker up! NASCAR returns to Brickyard

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Langer leads British Senior by 2 after 1st round

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Taiwan sweeps US in 1st day of International Crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
AP Source: NFL stadium sites explored in Toronto

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

A’s Johnson designated for assignment

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
2 Texas football players charged with sexual assault

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Cavs sign Wiggins, who can’t be traded for 30 days

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Suspended WR Blackmon arrested on drug complaint

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Signups for Friday, July 25, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Ravens RB Rice receives 2-game suspension from NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Lynch expected to hold out from Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Putnam, Petrovic share Canadian Open lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

AP source: Gordon to meet with league Aug. 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, July 25, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

This date in sports history for Friday, July 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Weather for July 25, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

.

Business

LR4 is updated for fuel efficiency

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Ford’s green push

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: C2

Varying health premium subsidies worry consumers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
US unemployment aid applications drop to 284,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Dunkin’ pushing cashiers to ‘upsell’ in afternoons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Court throws out Chiquita terror payment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Bombardier restructuring cuts 1,800 jobs globally

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

US new-home sales plummet in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Across US job market, layoffs are becoming rare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Mary Spingola Stagnaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Nelson Max Allen

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Shirley T. ‘Mac’ McFadden

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 5 Comments

 
Mary Bell Scrivner Sanders

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Arturo Montenegro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9