Entries in Kurdistan (4)


Iraq Wants Obama to Stop Kurd Oil Deal with ExxonMobil

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Iraq is asking the U.S. for help again but it has nothing to do with providing military assistance.

Instead, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants President Obama to step in and block a deal between ExxonMobil and Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

The Iraqi leader maintains that such an arrangement violates the law since all oil contracts are supposed to go through Baghdad first.

What has got Baghdad upset is that the deal gives ExxonMobil exploration rights in six areas, including two in regions that are claimed by both the central government and the Kurds.

A spokesman for al-Maliki said this agreement represents "a very dangerous initiative that may lead to the outbreak of wars," which could spoil any chance at achieving national unity.

As a result, the prime minister "sent a message to American President Barak Obama last week urging him to intervene to prevent ExxonMobil from going in this direction."

The White House so far has not publicly responded to al-Maliki's request.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


After 20 Years, Families of Genocide Victims Bury Their Dead

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- The bodies of 730 victims of Saddam Hussein’s military campaign against Kurdistan, their coffins draped in the Kurdish flag, returned home to Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on Monday and were finally laid to rest.

Their remains were discovered last year in the desert in southern Iraq, and subsequently identified as Kurds massacred in 1988 by the former regime.  It’s believed they were either buried alive or executed with a bullet to the head, before their bodies were transported south of Baghdad in an effort to conceal the crime.

The coffins were laid out at a ceremony in Sulaymaniyah attended by grieving families and local political leaders.  The dead will be buried in Chamchamal, where a monument has been erected in the memory of those who perished in the genocide.  It’s estimated that more than 180,000 Kurds were killed and thousands displaced during what became known as the Anfal campaign.

The central government in Baghdad did not send any high-level representatives, but in a symbolic move, the Iraqi national anthem was played at Monday’s ceremony.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kurdish President Warns of New Iraqi Dictatorship

SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Is Iraq headed toward another Saddam Hussein-style dictatorship?

Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region, suggested that possibility on Thursday.

Barzani, who was in Washington to meet with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, said that unless Baghdad resolves simmering disputes involving its ethnic and political factions, the situation would be ripe for an autocratic government.

That would certainly distress the U.S., which spent nine years trying to help the Iraqis build a stable democracy.

Much of the problem lies with Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been accused of marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds in an effort to consolidate power.

Barzani told reporters, "I have called on all the Iraqi parties and groups to get together and find a solution for this situation."  Otherwise, he would have to explain to the Kurdish population what their next step might entail.

The Kurdish leader was careful not to mention independence from the central government, which most in his region desire.

Tensions between Baghdad and the Kurds have been exacerbated since the Kurdistan Regional Government cut off oil exports to Iraq, saying Baghdad owed it $15 billion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kurd Rebels Kill 24 Turkish Soldiers; White House Condemns Attack

Thinkstock/Comstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Wednesday condemned the latest aggression by the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in which at least 24 Turkish soldiers were killed on their border with northern Iraq.

The U.S. and other nations consider the PKK a terrorist organization that has fought the Turkish government since 1984 for an autonomous Kurdistan and the rights of Kurds living in southeastern Turkey.

Tens of thousands of people have died during the 27-year-long conflict and this latest incident dashes any hopes of finding a peaceful settlement to Turkey's ongoing battle with the PKK.

According to reports, as many as 200 PKK fighters attacked a Turkish military outpost early Wednesday, leaving two dozen soldiers dead.

Turkey responded by sending fighter jets into northern Iraq to go after the militants.  Kurds who govern the semiautonomous region have allowed Ankara to attack the terrorist group so long as the incursion is not too deep.

Wednesday's incident comes at a time when the U.S. is preparing to withdraw virtually all of its remaining forces from central and southern Iraq by the end of the year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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