Activating the Kurdish SEP field

Continuing the theme from my last post is this story by Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid in the Washington Post about what’s going on in Kirkuk: Police and security units, forces led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkmens in this intensely volatile city ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

Continuing the theme from my last post is this story by Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid in the Washington Post about what’s going on in Kirkuk:

Police and security units, forces led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkmens in this intensely volatile city and spirited them to prisons in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, government documents and families of the victims. Seized off the streets of Kirkuk or in joint U.S.-Iraqi raids, the men have been transferred secretly and in violation of Iraqi law to prisons in the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces. The detainees, including merchants, members of tribal families and soldiers, have often remained missing for months; some have been tortured, according to released prisoners and the Kirkuk police chief. A confidential State Department cable, obtained by The Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the “extra-judicial detentions” were part of a “concerted and widespread initiative” by Kurdish political parties “to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner.” The abductions have “greatly exacerbated tensions along purely ethnic lines” and endangered U.S. credibility, the nine-page cable, dated June 5, stated. “Turkmen in Kirkuk tell us they perceive a U.S. tolerance for the practice while Arabs in Kirkuk believe Coalition Forces are directly responsible.” ….Abdul Rahman Mustafa, the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk province, said the reports of abductions were “not true,” although prisoners were often transferred to other provinces to relieve crowding. Jalal Jawhar, who heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Kirkuk, said some suspects were transferred to prisons in Irbil and Sulaymaniyah with the “complete cooperation” of the U.S. military. “This is a normal procedure,” Jawhar said. Maj. Darren Blagburn, intelligence officer for the 116th Brigade Combat Team in Kirkuk, acknowledged that Arab and Turkmen detainees were surreptitiously transferred to Kurdish prisons without judicial oversight. He denied any U.S. role in the transfers and said they were necessary because of crowding in Kirkuk’s jails. Blagburn said he and other U.S. officers intervened with Kurdish leaders after discovering the practice nearly a month ago. He said he was “pretty sure” the practice had ended.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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