Kurdish Posts in Army and Government Reduced to Record Low Since Maliki’s Second Term

25/09/2012 RUDAW  By NAWZAD MAHMOUD – SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish officials in Baghdad are concerned about the marginalization of Kurds in the ranks of the Iraqi Army. Arif Tayfur, deputy speaker of Iraqi Parliament, blames it on the “bad intentions” of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the current federal government.

He says that the number of Kurds in the Iraqi Army, ministries and government institutions has not been this low since before 2003.Tayfur, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) political bureau, believes that the Kurds should push for their 23 percent representation in the Iraqi Army.

“The Kurds will lose a lot if this does not happen,” Tayfur said. “They have been left behind in most government institutions.”According to agreements signed following the collapse of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds must have 23 percent representation in the army and other important government posts. But Kurdish MPs in Iraqi Parliament say that currently the Kurds form less than 4 percent of the Iraqi Army and that this happened after Maliki became prime minister for the second time. Shwan Muhammed Taha, part of the security committee in Iraqi Parliament and a member of the Kurdistan Alliance, said, “The security apparatuses are controlled by Maliki’s office and have become like another Council of Ministers.”

“The Iraqi Army issue is over for the Kurds and does not need further discussion,” he added, “because all the military, security and intelligence powers, on land and in the air, are controlled by Maliki. The Kurdish officials there are only there to watch.”

Taha said that they raised this issue with the army in 2006, when Kurdish presence at the time was only 6 percent.

“But now the Kurds make up only 3 percent of the Iraqi Army. Of 15 military brigades, only two have Kurdish commanders and these commanders have no power. In the past two years, 13 lieutenant general military ranks have been awarded in the Iraqi Army and none of them were given to a Kurd,” he said. Maliki’s systematic policy of removing Kurds from governmental posts and the military has worried Kurdish MPs in Iraqi Parliament. Hassan Jihad, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) MP and member of the parliamentary committee for security and defense, called the absence of Kurds in key military ranks “very alarming.”

He also said that he has prepared a list of all sacked Kurdish officials and those denied military promotions to confront Maliki with the next time his committee meets with him. “All these issues have been documented by solid data and we will bring them up,” Jihad said. He added, “The time for complaining is over. The Kurds have lost control in the army. The only solution is to question Maliki openly in parliament.” So far, Maliki has moved the Iraqi Army towards the disputed areas four times. The last time, tensions between the Iraqi Army and Peshmerga forces in Mosul province came close to a military confrontation.

Last week, Maliki announced that he was creating committees for some local administrations to balance power with the army. “These committees are as powerful as other governmental committees,” said Taha. “Maliki has created his own offices for each area that is controlled by the Kurds, which has undermined their authority,” Tayfur explained.

He added, “When there are military and air force courses, only one or two Kurds are allowed to participate. In other places, Kurds are not willing to come to Baghdad as employees. Therefore we cannot achieve a 23 percent presence.” “We are aware that Maliki has brought many chauvinist Arabs into the Iraqi Army with the goal of marginalizing the Kurds,” Tayfur said. “The only governmental institution which has preserved its Kurdish presence is Iraqi Parliament, with a 17 percent presence.”