Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has made no secret over the past few years of its intentions to expand its borders, and the deployment into Kirkuk was a big exclamation point on their intention to annex parts of Iraq into official KRG territory.
Those regions, which have been on the front line of the ISIS war, had significant Arab and Kurdish populations, often living side by side. In many cases, the civilians fled when ISIS came. When the KRG took the territory, however, not all returnees were created equal.
A new report from Human Rights Watch warns that the KRG has been harshly discriminating against the Arab civilian population of this newly seized territory, claiming “security” grounds for blocking Arabs from returning to their homes, while letting the Kurdish civilians back home.
That’s just the beginning of the problems, as HRW is reporting that they are also encouraging Kurds to move into the homes of Arab civilians who they are refusing to let back into the security zone.
The rights group warns that the KRG is going well beyond “a reasonable security response” and is engaged in “collective punishment” of the Arab population of territory that they intend to annex.
That seems very much the idea. In decades past, Arab civilians were encouraged to move into oil-rich Kurdish-dominated territory to give past Iraqi governments more control in the region. It seems the Kurds are taking a page out of Saddam Hussein’s book in this regard, and trying to use force to change the ethnic makeup of this territory.