Mahmud Osman: We don’t want to Kurdify Kirkuk
Kurdish politician and IGC member Mahmud Osman gave a long interview to the London daily ash-Sharq al-Awsat in which he maintained that the Kurds do not wish to visit any injustices on Turkmen and Arabs in the city of Kirkuk. They simply wish to bring back to the city the estimated 250,000 persons expelled from it by Saddam. (Saddam had tried to Arabify oil-rich Kirkuk, which traditionally had a majority of Turkmen and Kurds). Osman pointed out that the future municipal council in Kirkuk, to be elected May 31 at the same time as the national government, will be democratically elected and so will afford Arabs and Turkmen ample opportunities to be represented.
Osman’s statements are not entirely, well, complete. He leaves out the question of where the returned Kurds will live in Kirkuk; Saddam often gave their houses to Arabs moved there. Thousands of Arabs have been chased out by returning Kurds. So their repatriation is not painless unless someone builds about 50,000 new dwellings fast. And, Kurdish leaders have asked that Kirkuk be included in a consolidated Kurdish canton, against the wishes of the majority of the present population.