The Arab press (al-Dustour, Asrar al-Sharq, etc.) are reporting today that calls are being made to make Kirkuk the “summer” capital of Iraq. Fawzi Akram Terzi, a Turkoman parliament deputy in Baghdad associated with the Sadrist bloc, made the call saying that Kirkuk has “great economic, political and strategic implications” for Iraq’s future.
Two months ago Terzi told Radio Free Europe “a Kurdish-Arab civil war is out of the question in the new Iraq where disagreements are settled by dialogue and according to the constitution.”
So is his plan to make Kirkuk a second capital city dialogue or part of the constitution? Or is it merely another ploy to prevent the Kurds from reclaiming what was taken from them by Saddam’s brutal policies of Arabisation?
Terzi rationalises this idea by suggesting that summer capitals are “in place in many countries the world.” He also said that the government should begin massive economic revitalisation programmes in the city as it is far removed from all forms of partisan conflict found in Baghdad.
Yes, perhaps the Turkomen have a claim to a power-sharing arrangement in Kirkuk, with 12% of the city’s population (Kurds make up 52%). However, I do not think that making Kirkuk the “summer” capital will do anything to remedy the tense ethnic relations in the city.
With al-Maliki centralising power and leaning towards a more authoritarian style of leadership, Terzi’s idea would only be seen by the Kurds as a Baghdad-takeover of Kirkuk.