Kirkuk City and the 2010 Elections in Iraq

Table of Contents

Location of Kirkuk City

Kirkuk is a city in Iraq that serves as the capital city of Kirkuk governorate. It is located 250 kilometers to the north of Baghdad at 35.47°N, 44.41°E. It is located in a strategic position geographically with large oil reserves and gas production. It has been proved to be an important city for both political and economic reasons due to its large oil reserves. This was realized in the 10th and 11th centuries BC when the Assyrians were ruling. It’s in this city that the Assyria, media, and Babylonia fought battles. They were the three great empires that at some time controlled the city of Kirkuk. This city is alleged to be the historical land of the Kurds and the Turkmen although some scholars argue otherwise. It was named as the origin of the Iraq culture by the culture ministry in the year 2010 (Jameel 111).

The name Kirkuk comes from the ancient name Arraphka. It is said to have been derived from the old Hurries. In simple terms, it refers to a city as big as Kirkuk city. It has an oil reserve that fetches a large sum of money for the country. This has contributed to economic development and growth in Iraq and it’s continuously contributing to the same. Through it, many youths have secured employment places thereby reducing the dependency rate (Cordesman, Davies & center for strategic and international studies 247)

Political Importance of Kirkuk City

Iraq has been a country of harmony that encourages people of different races to reside together. Currently, it has been under a season of transition where it is facing a lot of challenges. Debates have been held to discuss power-sharing between the states and the institution of governance. It has been argued that federations would be the only solution to achieve success in the current situation. The big question among most of the leaders is, will the federation strengthen the national identity and the state as a whole or will it result in state division? All these issues emerged since the 2005 draft constitution (Brancati 3).

Some leaders believe that the constitution and federation will work best to deliver the country while others believe that federation will only tear the country further apart. The only solution for this controversial issue is the introduction of a central government. The draft constitution was approved in 2005 through a referendum. Some have criticized it on the grounds of lack of unity. It is argued that the leaders were not united when they were preparing the constitution (Ellen 5).

Each leader was mindful of his or her interest and not the interest of the public. What came out of their discussion was a constitution that is yet to be accepted by many. The only city that is believed to deliver Iraq out of its present situation in Kirkuk. It has the political power of harmonizing nations because of the close ties to cultural beliefs which are still solid (Izady 107). The ability of the nation of Iraq to form strong political ties lies in the internal and external forces. To that extent, Kirkuk city has been ensuring political and economic stability. The government is assured of enough revenue from the oil market and that will lead to more economic integration resulting in political stability.

Economic Importance of Kirkuk

Kirkuk city is known for the production of oil and gas for both domestic and industrial use. Oil and gas production is essential for the future stability of the Iraq government and the stabilization of its prices and economic activities. It will solve the problems of inequality in wealth distribution between the federal and regional governments. Oil exports form the backbone of Iraq’s economy and revenue distribution. Kirkuk is the city with the greatest oil reserves.

Oil production in Kirkuk began in 1930 and it holds about 10 billion barrels of oil reserves (Gavish 18). 40% of Iraq’s oil and 70% of its gas production comes from the city of Kirkuk. The Iraq oil company oversees the oil production activities at Kirkuk. It has helped the country severally during periods of recessions and war. It holds a majority of the labor force thus reducing the unemployment rate thereby stabilizing the economy. Through oil and gas exports, Iraq’s currency has appreciated the foreign currencies.

Through Kirkuk, Iraq can achieve its dream of stability but this might not be easy due to the much interference the country experiences time and again. According to Kurds, Kirkuk city can be compared to the city of Jerusalem. It is the city that they have been eagerly waiting for a long time. It holds about eight percent of the county’s 78 billion barrels of oil reserves. For Iraq to achieve stable prices, it has to rely on the optimum use of the oil reserves in Kirkuk.

Debates have been going on in Iraq as to whether the revenues from oil should be distributed all over the country and whether they already signed contracts with Kurds will be recognized. Kurds have ignored what is happening and have gone to the extent of signing an oil agreement with other foreign oil companies although most of the pipes for transportation have been destroyed. There has been a proposal of repairing them and soon the city will start piping oil to Turkey (Inc Group International 76).

Strategic Location

Kirkuk is the most strategically located area in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is among the biggest cities in south Kurdistan and the fourth in Iraq. The civilization of Matara, Charmo, and Kurdish can be traced from it. Kirkuk acts as a border between Iran and Iraq where most of the major strategies have occurred. This is evident in the ottomans empire which acted as the best location for Iraq and Iran. The strategic importance of Kirkuk became evident in 1907 when many nations were competing for the oil reserve in its location. These nations included America, Germany, British, French, and the Turkish (Liam & Stansfield 13).

Of all the crude oil that is exploited from Iraq, half of it comes from Kirkuk. It has been recorded that only four of the oil-producing countries claim the same location as Kirkuk; Texas in American, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Venezuela. Kirkuk has other natural resources such as coal but oil remains the biggest. Of all the oil reserves found in the world, Kirkuk oil reserves constitute 7%. It has not been easy to protect Kirkuk from the foreign exploiters, but the Kurdish nationalist has volunteered to protect it and has always been involved in debates with Iraq’s former regime leaders about the issue (Herd 4).

Demography of Kirkuk

During Saddam Hussein’s rule, a large number of people from the Kurdish region were deported. After he fell, the Kurdish political leaders engaged in violent activities where they used cash to make payment for the Kurds to be resettled back to their original land. From Kirkuk, the Kurds had been deported in southern and central Iraq but their leaders ensured that they went back to their homeland. Some of the Arabs could not stand what was happening and left the region. Some left because of fear since they didn’t know what would happen to them.

The demographical composition of Kirkuk is not clear but it is estimated that about 40% of the total population are Kurds and 60% of the population is composed of ethnic Turkmen, Arabs, and Assyrian Christians. Kurds hold the belief that their ancestors originated from Kirkuk. They believe that Kirkuk is strategically located and holds both political and economic advantages and thus it will be of great advantage to them. They also believe that the ocean of oil which is found below the surface can be used to boost their economy (Lionel, 2).

As of 2007, three hundred and fifty thousand Kurds had been resettled in Kirkuk. The future of Kirkuk remains uncertain in terms of demography. Many people wonder what will happen when the US troops decide to leave Iraq. This makes the future of Iraq an issue and also that of Kirkuk. Turkmen are not happy with what Kurds are doing and war may emerge between the two parties. The political leaders of Kurdish are seeking to include Kirkuk as their federal state which is raising controversial issues. On the other hand, the Turkmen claim Kirkuk to be their ancestral land and their cultural center. They are believed to have lived in Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Mosul for many centuries although one cannot accurately define their population in number (Güclü, 1).

Kirkuk Status Since 2003

Saddam was in power from 1970 to 2003 the period in which he managed to drive out over one hundred Kurds frown Kirkuk. Since the fall of Saddam, thousand of the Turkmen and the Kurds returned to Kirkuk for their lost properties. Some decided to reside there while others chose to stay in camps towards the east of Kirkuk (Leezenburg 136).

Since 2003, Kirkuk has been a mixed city with Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen. Some Muslims and Christians also reside in the city. The struggle began after Saddam Hussein’s fall. Before he fell, he had managed to capture Kirkuk but was reclaimed after the 2003 war. After the war, the Kurds were driven by the desire of owning Kirkuk as their province. The Turkmen were just watching the Kurd’s movement in fear because they could not comprehend what to do. Kurds forcibly drove out the Shiite Arabs and Sunni from their homes and claimed ownership of Kirkuk. It is not clear what will happen to Kirkuk but a former diplomat of the US holds that an ethnic bomb might erupt before Kirkuk’s status is finally known.

As of 2006, the Kurds made the biggest population in Kirkuk and held the highest number of political seats. Kurds want to claim ownership over the city of Kirkuk because of its economic advantages and for sentimental purposes (Parker 3). They want to claim Kirkuk not only because of its oil reserve but also because they believe that their ancestors resided there.

Article 140 of the constitution of Iraq observes that, before voting for the referendum, some measures had to be employed to reverse the invasion which was employed by Saddam during his rule. The invasion was aimed at realizing the Kurds. Fortunately or unfortunately, many of the Kurds found their way back after the invasion. The referendum would give the actual number of the Kurds who had returned to Kirkuk (Abdulla 1). The referendum was set to take place in November 2007 but was postponed until the year that followed.

The 2010 Elections

Many politicians from Iraq have been head over heels campaign over Kirkuk. This is more so for the Kurds and the Arabs who want to control the city. There emerged a dispute which altered the election law and there was a threat of delaying the elections. The election was set to take place in January but was held on March 7, 2010. In turn, this will delay the Americans from withdrawing their troops as they had promised. For over one year, the politicians have been holding petitions to reach an agreement regarding Kirkuk. This was not the only year that Kirkuk had been experiencing tensions. Tensions have been there even before the rule of Saddam.

The Kurds have been fighting to win over Kirkuk under the claim that it is their ancestral land. During the 2003 invasion Saddam had succeed in evicting the Kurds from Kirkuk but it will not be easy to evict them again. The number of Kurds has increased significantly to about 52% of the total population in Kirkuk. The Arabs who occupy about 35% of the population firmly believe that Kirkuk can not be removed under their control. Turkmen realized that they could not fight alone and decided to join the Arabs (Human Rights Watch (Organization) 48).

Tensions rose regarding the register to be used during the 2010 election. The Kurds were for the opinion of using the 2009 register while the Arabs held that 2004 should be used. The 2009 voter registry is claimed to reflect a big population of Kurds than the 2004’s. It took a lot of time for them to choose which to register to use and this was one of the factors that delayed the elections. The Kurds demanded that all the regions of the country should be given a certain percentage of Iraq’s revenue about their population. They argued this way because they knew they constituted the biggest population although this does not seem to work. On the other hand, Turkey fears that the Kurds might win the secession and in turn get the biggest share of the oil revenues.

The president of the United States, Barrack Obama, promised that all the American troops that were in Iraq would leave before September 2010. They would leave behind fifty thousand trainers in Iraq to stay in the country until the end of the year 2011. The first troop had been planned to leave Iraq sixty days after the elections. But this was delayed because of the delayed elections.

Works Cited

Abdulla, Mufid. “Kirkuk and its dependencies: Historically part of Kurdistan.” KurdishMedia. 2008. Web.

Brancati, Dawn. Can federalism stabilize Iraq? The Washington Quarterly, 27: 2, 5 — 21, 2007.

Cordesman, Anthony H., Davies, Emma R. & center for strategic and international studies. Iraq’s insurgency and the road to civil conflict. Volume 2 of Iraq’s Insurgency and the Road to Civil Conflict. Washington DC: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008.

Ellen, Laipson. The politics of governance and federalism. Waterloo: The centre for international Governance innovation, 2009.

Gavish, Haya. Unwitting Zionists: The Jewish Community of Zakho in Iraqi Kurdistan. Raphael Patai series in Jewish folklore and anthropology. Wayne: Wayne State University Press, 2009.

Güclü, Yücel. “Who Owns Kirkuk? The Turkmen Case.” Middle East Quarterly, volume 14NO.1, 2007. Web.

Herd, Graeme P. Weak Authoritarianism and Iraqi State Building. Defence Academy of the UK: Conflict studies research centre, 2005.

Human Rights Watch (Organization). Claims in conflict: reversing ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq. Volume 16, Issue 4 of Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 2004.

Inc Group International. Pumping: Webster’s Quotations, Facts and Phrases. Silverdale: ICON Group International, Inc., 2008.

Izady, Mehrdad R. The Kurds: a concise handbook. New York: Taylor & Francis, 1992.

Jameel, Issam. Iraq through a Bullet Hole: A Civilian Returns Home. Reflections of History. Michigan: Loving Healing Press, 2008.

Leezenburg, Michiel. IRAQ-Crisis in Kirkuk: Ethnopolitics of Conflict and Compromise. The Middle East Journal Washington Vol. 64, Issue. 1, 2010.

Liam Anderson & Stansfied Gareth. Crisis in Kirkuk: The Ethnopolitics of Conflict and Compromise. National and ethnic conflict in the 21st century. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009..

Lionel Beehner, Lionel. “The Challenge in Iraq’s Other Cities: Kirkuk.” Council on foreign relations, 2006. Web.

Parker, Randal. “The Demographic Battle For Kirkuk.” parapundit, 2005. Web.

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!

Place New Order
It's Free, Fast & Safe

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!