By Shirzad Abdulraham
Azzaman, July 18, 2009
In a move that will certainly fuel tensions in an already restive region, Iraqi Kurds have threatened to annex large swathes of land which have traditionally been part of the Sunni-Arab dominated city of Mosul.
The two main Kurdish factions – Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – have vowed to add at least 16 administrative divisions currently linked to the Province of Nineveh to Kurdish-held areas.
The Province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital, has historically been a mosaic of religions, sects and ethnic groups.The Kurdish autonomous region officially includes three provinces – Arbil, Dahouk and Sulaimaniya. But it seems there is no end to KDP and PUK’s insatiable desire to expand their dominions.But since the 2003-U.S. invasion, the province’s territorial borders have been something like 'moving sands.’The Kurds, taking advantage of the chaos that followed the downfall of former leader Saddam Hussein, deployed their militias, known as peshmerga even in the provincial capital Mosul.
Apparently the Kurds are adamant to add large portions of Nineveh to their areas, including the oil-rich area of Ain Zala.An anti-Kurdish front is emerging in Mosul with political parties and tribes coming together to halt Kurdish expansion at the province’s expense.With the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad warming up to Iraqi Arab Sunnis, there are fears of government troops taking sides in the standoff.Most of the towns and districts the Kurds want to annex are inhabited by Iraqi ethnic and religious minorities like Shebeks, Yazidis and Christians.
Many of them now fear of being used as scapegoats for Kurdish covetous intentions.
Christians are under immense pressure in Mosul, a city which used to have one of the largest Christian groups in the country.
Christians living in the string of villages to the east and north of Mosul, currently under Kurdish control, fear retaliation by insurgents fighting U.S. troops and Kurdish militias at the same time.
Some of these villages are only a few kilometers (miles) away from Mosul.