This is from Stafford:
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has done it again. In its latest annual report it has again blamed the KRG and peshmerga for the violence that minorities face.
The Commission has again relied on secondary sources for information, including the long discredited Assyrian International News Agency (AINA). With the largest embassy in the world, and with such a high official US presence in Iraq, one would anticipate the Commission could better learn and deepen its understanding of the rest of the story, the real story, and the whole story.
USCIRF claims that KRG and peshmerga encroachment/expansion into minority areas are the main causes of the dispute between Arabs and Kurds and minorities are caught in the middle.
USCIRF failed to learn and/or acknowledge that more Kurds have been killed in Mosul than members of any other group and that Christians, Yazidis, and Shabaks who have fled Mosul to areas where the KRG and the peshmerga are in control have clearly stated that if it weren't for the KRG and peshmerga they would be wiped out, eliminated.
The full 274-page report (Iraq pages 43-60) is available at:
The USCIRF report is submitted to the US President, US Secretary of State, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and President Pro Tempore of the US Senate.
Excerpt: "Although the three KRG governorates are relatively secure, Nineveh governorate, especially in and around Mosul, remains one of the most dangerous and unstable parts of Iraq. Insurgent and extremist activity continues to be a significant problem there. Moreover, control of the ethnically and religiously mixed area is disputed between the KRG and the central Iraqi government. The minorities are caught in the middle of this struggle for control and have been targeted for abuses and discrimination as a result.
"The dispute stems from Kurdish efforts to annex into the KRG additional territories—including parts of the governorates of Kirkuk (Tamim), Nineveh, Salah al-Din, Diyala, and Waset—on the basis of their claim that these areas were Arabized under Saddam Hussein and are historically Kurdish. Since 2003, Kurdish peshmerga security forces and political parties have moved into these territories, effectively establishing de facto control over many of the contested areas. Religious and ethnic minorities, including non-Muslims and ethnic Shabak and Turkomen, have accused Kurdish peshmerga and officials of engaging in abuses and discrimination against them to further Kurdish claims in the territorial dispute including encroaching on, seizing, and refusing to return minority land; making the provision of services and assistance to minority communities contingent on support for Kurdish expansion; forcing minorities to identify themselves as either Arabs or Kurds; and impeding the formation of local minority police forces.
"The dispute also has affected the political rights of these small minorities. In the January 2005 elections, many non-Muslims in Nineveh governorate were disenfranchised due to fraud, intimidation, and the refusal by Kurdish security forces to permit the distribution of ballot boxes. More recently, the September 2008 law to govern upcoming provincial elections was stripped, just before its adoption, of a provision guaranteeing a set number of seats to minorities in certain provincial councils, including Nineveh. An amendment was later adopted, but it set aside fewer seats than either the original provision or the UN‘s proposed compromise, reportedly because of Arab politicians‘ fears that minorities would vote with the Kurds in disputed governorates. In addition, the political conflict between Kurds and Arabs has led to a stalemate in the distribution of Nineveh‘s provincial budget, with only 0.4 percent of the budget being spent in 2008, the lowest rate for any Iraqi governorate.
"Provincial elections were held on January 31, 2009, in 14 of Iraq‘s 18 governorates, including Nineveh. Security was tight throughout the country, and no major violence was reported. According to the State Department, more than 400 international observers and 200,000 national observers monitored the polling, and U.S. and UN officials reportedly dispatched more observers to Nineveh than to any other governorate. The Iraqi High Electoral Commission received a number of complaints of election irregularities throughout the country— including allegations from Yazidi and Christian parliamentarians that Kurdish parties tried to intimidate minorities in Nineveh from attending campaign rallies or voting for candidates from the non-Kurdish lists—but it found none of these complaints sufficient to call into question the outcome. In Nineveh, the election resulted in a change in control of the provincial council from Kurdish parties to the Sunni Arab al-Hadba party, which some minority groups view as potentially more sympathetic to their rights than the Kurdish parties. Yazidi candidates won the second largest share of the Nineveh council‘s seats."