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The 4th Infantry Division raided the PUK and KDP offices in Kirkuk on Saturday, seizing a cache of weapons from the KDP offices and detaining a senior level official from that party.
U.S. troops raided the KDP offices in Kirkuk Saturday night, seizing AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. The Americans also arrested a senior KDP leader. A PUK office also was raided.
The raids are connected to the “recent ethnic violence”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000637.php between Turkmen, Arabs and Kurds in Kirkuk that has left almost 20 people dead since “August”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000445.php#000445. Six have been killed since last week.
“We are disappointed by this,” said Mohammad Sabir, chief PUK representative in Washington when I contacted him this afternoon. “We are very close to the U.S. but I don’t know [the reason for] the raid. Maybe some Turkmen or Arabs gave them information that the PUK had many weapons. I don’t know, really.”
He added that the PUK was working to clear up any misunderstanding.
The KDP representative in D.C., Farhad Barzani, said he knew nothing about the raid and couldn’t comment.
The “Kurdistan Democratic Party”:http://www.kdp.pp.se/ and the “Patriotic Union of Kurdistan”:http://www.puk.org are the two main Kurdish parties in Iraq and have been pushing for a federal system guaranteeing Kurds “significant autonomy”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000046.php#000046 since last year. Arabs, Turkmen and surrounding countries have all expressed alarm and displeasure over the idea of significant Kurdish autonomy.
TurkishPress.com_ reports that members of the Iraqi Turkmen Front will be trained by Egypt as part of the new Iraqi Army instead of Turkey.
_TurkishPress.com_ reports that members of the Iraqi Turkmen Front will be trained by Egypt as part of the new Iraqi Army instead of Turkey.
Turkmen and Arabs have grown closer in the wake of the Kurds’ recent attempts to establish an ethnic-based federation in Iraq. The two ethnic groups have assumed a common stance, with both arguing that Kirkuk is an Iraqi city after the Kurdish groups revealed their ambition to include the oil-rich city within their territories.
The Turkmen are waiting for the support of the Arab world. Last week Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) head Faruk Abdullah held a series of meetings with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmet Mahir. Sources say that Musa and Mahir’s stances were a relief to the ITF, and can be summarized as follows:
“Iraq’s territorial integrity will be protected. We can’t allow one group to dominate another. Kirkuk is an Iraqi city. It can’t be left to the domination of one ethnic group. Egypt will do its utmost to protect both Iraq’s territorial integrity and the rights of every ethnic group in the country.”
While the Turks might seem an obvious choice to train the Turkmen, thanks to their historic ties to the Turkmen, ITF spokesman Ahmed Muratli says that “Turkey is now out of the picture. The U.S. signed training agreements with Jordan and Egypt, not Turkey.” Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani have also expressed opposition to the Turks providing training, despite (or perhaps because of) its proximity and its NATO ties.
A Turkmen-Arab alliance should be expected as the third largest ethnic group in Iraq finds common cause with the largest (Arabs) in the wake of Kurdish attempts to add Kirkuk to their possessions in the post-Saddam Iraq. Both Arabs and Turkmen have argued that Kirkuk is an Iraqi city and not Kurdish. Violence in that city last week left at least two people dead and more injured when _peshmergas_ fired into a demonstration of “Arabs and Turkmen protesting the Kurds’ proposed plans for Iraqi federalism.”:http://b2i2.thestonecutters.net/archives/000637.php