Kurdistan Undergoes Real Demographic and Geographic Changes 

By Mohammed Hussein:

About 2 million Arab IDPs have fled into Kurdistan (the KRG areas and its disputed territories with Iraq) since 2014, and more than five towns have been depopulated in the disputed areas because of the IS combat. All these facts put Kurdistan in front of real demographic and geographic changes, so we may end up with Iraqi Kurdistan populated by majority of Arabs and condensed also into the three provinces of Sulaimanyah, Erbil, and Dhok.

The so called Islamic State (IS) changed many things in the Iraqi political and economic situations, dramatically shifting dynamics that have moved the country since 2003. One of the big changes IS brought about (and Shia enemies have also done this) is demographic change in some mixed areas, where the population consisted of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen or different religious communities. They displaced almost 3 million people in the whole of Iraq, about two million of whom fled towards Kurdistan, suffering under a terrible economic situation.

IS displaced people are from all religious communities except Sunnis: Yezidie, Christians, Kakayees, and Shia in Nainava province, northern Iraq. Similarly, Shia militias (under the umbrella of Hashd-Al-Shaabi) also keep the Arab Sunni IDPs away from their homes in areas, like As Sadyah, Jalaula, and Sulayman Beg, which fell under IS control and later on were taken back by the Kurdish Peshmarga and Shia forces. Plus, they also destroyed and burned many villages in northern Salahadin, according to Sabah Bayati, a human rights activist in the area.

Both sides displace people at the expense of Iraqi Kurdistan, so the process is expected to change the territories that have been considered Iraqi Kurdistan and also the population that have occupied these lands. On the one hand, IS started pushing out non-Sunni religious communities like Yezidies, Shabaks, and Kakaees in Sinjar, Bashiqa, Zumar, and Nainava plain generally; a similar process also took place in As Sadyah, Jalaula, where they kicked out Kurdish Shia from their homes.

One the other hand, Shia militias have prevented the Arab Sunnis of northern Diyala and Salahadin province from going back to their homes after they drove out IS militants; consequently, they push all the Arab IDPs towards Kurdistan and the disputed areas; they make them stay in Kurdistan, waiting to return.

Displacing and resettling local people in the disputed areas between Kurdistan and Iraq has been done intentionally by both IS and the Shia militias for different goals and political agendas, but they are all aiming to change the demography of the areas and prevent the displaced people from getting back their homes. These policies definitely change Kurdistan’s demography and geography at the cost of the properties and homes of almost 2 million Arabs who suffer terribly in Kurdistan now.

The IDP problem, in both Iraq and Kurdistan too, should be handled in a humanitarian, and not ethnic and sectarian, way. It is not fair to politicize the suffering of about 2 million people who are mostly undergoing a very difficult time.

Politically, the sectarian agendas that displaced them should be taken to consideration by the KRG leaders who still have no clear vision and policy about how to handle the problems. Before the Arab people get displaced, there should be a deal with the Shia militias to stop the policy of pushing out Arab Sunnis in Salahadin and Diyala provinces, who mostly come to Kurdistan because the Shia dominated government in Baghdad discriminates against them.

For instance, more than 50,000 families from Sulayman Beg, small town in northern Salahadin, are still displaced and living in Kurdistan and Duz-Khurmatu although their town and villages were freed in November 2014. According to Talib Mohammed, director of Sulayman Beg sub-district, nobody knows why his people should be displaced in Kurdistan while they have been prevented from returning by Shia militias.

Similarly, As Sadya, and northern Miqdadya are other examples of how the militias push out the Arab Sunni population towards Kurdistan as they want to get rid of the local Sunni majority who are politically antagonistic to the pro-Iranian policies of the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad.

 Mohammed Hussein lives in Sulaimanyah where he writes for www.iraqoilreport.com  You can email him at: muhe79@yahoo.com

2 Responses to Kurdistan Undergoes Real Demographic and Geographic Changes 
  1. Rudi
    June 26, 2015 | 05:00

    What is needed is a political organization that Sunni Arabs can rally around, other than ISIS.

    Suggestion: form a government in exile among the Arab refugees. Then get support and funding for that government to raise and train an army from among the refugees to reclaim their homes and secure them. Another objective of this government should be to replace all governance that is now being done by ISIS.

    Iraq clearly cannot exist as a single country. Baghdad is too partisan towards the Shia. A political base for the Sunni Arabs is desperately needed. I think Baathists should be included in this.

  2. Dilovan
    June 27, 2015 | 03:56

    To fellow Kurds all over: Recently certain Kurdish Media outlets have reviewed the concept of Great Kurdistan, especially those affiliated with KDP. Is that realistic? How can that take place when Kurdish territories in South have not yet been legally reclaimed. I hope no one will be misled by false promises of Great Kurdistan. It’s a failed attempt. Only South has all the traits of statehood at the present time. The U.S. administration strives hard to delay Kurdish independence as much as possible. Kurds must not give up or get disappointed at independence. Kurdish leadership must change so that real changes can be done.
    With America dollars, Kurdish independence belief should not be undermined once again just like 2005, 2008, 13.

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