Open Letter to the UN Secretary General on the Iraqi Prime Minister’s discourse of ethnic discord

21.12.2012 –  B  Dr. Amir Sharifi: Recent car bombing in Kirkuk

Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General – 760 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017

Dear Secretary-General

As you are aware there is worrisome and alarming news of looming ethnic strife between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq. Troublingly it is Nur al din al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister who in his statements is provoking, orchestrating, and framing unresolved political problems in multiethnic and religiously diverse Iraq as the discourse of ethnic discord. As Iraq is grappling with sectarian violence and the painstaking process of democratization, the prime minister in pursuing his own political ambitions is manipulatively turning political differences and tensions into an ethnic conflict.

He has dispatched a military force called the Tigris Operation Commands to lay possession to and consolidate his grip over some disputed territories in Northern Iraq, areas in which the U.S played a mediating role before withdrawal in 2011.

Instead of addressing political issues with administrative discretion, political initiatives, and constitutional order, sadly the prime minister’s political rhetoric has unequivocally taken on an  ethnocentric and militaristic spin, threatening to escalate the self-initiated impending military operation into an ethnic conflict between Arabs and Kurds. The post Saddam Hussein of Iraq has already witnessed the catastrophic consequences of the continuing sectarian violence. Instead of warning against and condemning such measures and dangers, the prime minister is explicitly undermining the new constitution of Iraq and its core foundation on the one hand and the stability of the country on the other by provocatively fanning Arab nationalist sentiments against Kurds.

It is tragic that the prime minister is displaying such an unabashed bias and insensitivity towards Kurds who are defined in the new constitution as equal citizens in new Iraq. Many ethnic Arabs both within and outside Kurdish Regional Government have found such statements objectionable and resented such ethno nationalism on their behalf and many in the Iraqi government  have refused to support  this type of  inflammatory policy.

This model of hegemonic rule is bound to build both conceptually and historically another Iraq based on subordination rather than freedom of its constituents.  Instead of seeking to build interethnic peace and harmony and finding a solution through civic and civil means of negotiations, the prime minister is pursuing an authoritarian practice of coercion to undermine the semi- autonomy and liberty that Kurds have acquired in a decentralized Iraq. Mr. Maliki’s belligerent and alienating language is a clear example of his intent to implement acts of aggression against the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan contrary to all regional, national and international standards. His pretexts are unjustified as no one has questioned nor violated the country’s constitution or its sovereignty except for the Kurdish legitimate demand for continued debate about disputed areas.The Kurdish Regional Government is not contributing to the destabilization of Iraq and the region. On the contrary, the region has enjoyed enviable peace, prosperity, and democracy when contrasted with the capital, Baghdad that continues to be the most dangerous and the dirtiest city in the world. Mr.Maliki’s language is insensitive and incendiary, threatening Iraqi ethnic groups with nothing but more death and destruction. The intention of his designated military operation is clear; it is designed against Kurds and other Iraqi citizens in the name of the “greater Iraq” through the destruction of the Kurdish people and their fragile hard won autonomy.

The international community cannot be indifferent and reticent in the face of such looming and strategic threats that the prime minister alone and or in collaboration with the Islamic Republic of Iran is seeking to impose on the Kurdish people and Arabs in Iraq.

We call upon your good offices to denounce such destabilizing and divisive policies and practices, the repercussions of which would go far beyond what Kurds and Iraqi people can endure after decades of turmoil, civil war, and sectarian violence. Iraqi’s new political figures should know that genocides such as Infal committed against tens of thousands of Kurds can no longer be ignored and tolerated. We urge your Excellency and the international community not to tolerate overt declarations of ethnic animosity.

We encourage the United Nations and all human rights and humanitarian organizations to take the necessary measure to condemn the discourse of ethnic discord and stop its escalating into an ethnic conflict and sectarian violence. The United Nations as the guardian of universal human rights and peace can and should put an end to the Iraqi prime minister’s discourse of interethnic discord and the looming eruption and propagation of violence by promoting mutual and open dialogue between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish Regional Government.

Dr.Amir Sharifi, Director of Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group