Sunnis New Power Holders in Nineveh Province, Iraq
Feb 14, 09
Nineveh Province, Iraq (AINA) -- The victory of the Sunni-Arab Al-Hadba party in the Nineveh province is expected to bring about significant changes. The party, which gained an impressive 48.5 percent of votes in the province, is led by Athil Al-Nujeifi, whose brother, Osama Al-Nujeifi, is the outspoken member of Iraq's parliament.
The Shabak, Chaldo-Assyrian, Turkmen and Yezidi minority communities in the Nineveh province are expecting improvements in their situation. Since December 2005, Iraq's Nineveh province has been dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. This reality profoundly impacted the plight of minorities as these two Kurdish-led parties sought the annexation of territories such as the Nineveh Plain and Sinjar into the Kurdish administered region. The Al-Hadba slate was openly anti-Kurdish during the election campaign, calling to an end of Kurdish dominance in a province where Kurds make up only around 25% of the inhabitants. Besides Sunni-Arabs, minorities are eagerly awaiting for improvements concerning their rights in the new Sunni-led provincial council to be formed soon.
"The minorities are an important part of the Nineveh province and they should enjoy all the rights they are entitled to," said Mr. Usama Al-Nujeifi. "We believe the minorities have to participate in the political sphere, in the provincial council and all the local institutions. This is important for us and we believe we will be able to accomplish it."
The people of the Nineveh Plain have long been seeking to create a distinct type of federal unit tied directly to the central government, sometimes termed the Nineveh Plain Administrative Unit, in accordance with Article 125 of the constitution of Iraq. This agenda came into direct conflict with Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) plans of annexing these regions. Part of that annexation policy manifested itself in the obstruction of a legitimate and formal police force in the Nineveh plain which would not serve KRG interests. The new power holders in Nineveh are however welcoming the establishment of formal and legal police forces instead of the politically attached militias of today:
"We support local and legal police forces to be set up, and we reject any kind of militias. Assyrians should have Assyrian policemen in their areas, locals from the same area," says Osama Al-Nujeifi. "If there is a formal request from the ministry of interior for such local police forces we will be happy to make it happen. We do not want to have any militias, especially militias who are attached to political groups and who are used to impose political agendas, such as the Kurdish attached militias."
Kurdistan Regional Government political control of the province also led to a significant degree of KRG military control through its Peshmerga militia forces. In October 2008, at least 14 Assyrian Christians were killed and vehicles declaring that all Christians must leave Mosul were freely allowed to issue this blanket threat (AINA 2-15-2009). Suspicion fell on the largely Kurdish Peshmerga forces which were responsible for all security in these areas.
MP Osama Al-Nujeifi demonstrated extraordinary initiative in drawing attention not only to the crisis, but also the source of the problem. (AINA 10-12-2008). Al-Nujeifii says he still holds Kurdish groups responsible for the killings:
"Our position has not changed. Kurdish members of the Iraqi military and Peshmerga forces carried out the attacks, this has been confirmed by a formal investigation and several of the perpetrators were caught. The Iraqi government knows everything about it"
At the same time Al-Nujeifii underlines the complexity of the issue and the increasing differences between Baghdad and Arbil. "The political situation is very complicated in Iraq. There are complications between Baghdad and the KRG. I believe the current situation does not allow Al Maliki to reveal the findings of the Mosul investigation. It is part of a greater problem," said Mr. Usama Al-Nujeffi.
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