Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) issued a statement today in response to a damning report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) accusing them of systematically destroying the homes of Arabs in territory they’ve recently captured.
The KRG denied that the mass demolition was done in a systematic manner, insisting that there was “no strategic intention” in the homes of Arabs being leveled, and that they were simply destroying them as a “last possible resort” when they believe IEDs are within.
HRW’s report, however, insists that in many cases the homes were destroyed for no apparent military reason, and that in many cases the homes of Arabs were destroyed long after fighting over the area was completed. They added that in some cases neighborhoods were leveled, with Arab homes being destroyed and all the Kurdish homes left standing.
Though the KRG denies that any such operation is in place, this is seen by many in the region as a mirror of the “Arabization” schemes of the Saddam Hussein government, which brought Arabs into Kurdish territory in oil-rich Kirkuk, expelling many Kurds. With the KRG now in control of the same areas, many believe they intend to drive out the Arabs and ensure they retain control over the region by shifting the population back to a Kurdish majority.