Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Kirkuk Tension Rising

The efforts to set up the new Iraq government continue to run into serious difficuilties.

In itself this is neither surprising nor alarming. There are European countries that routinely use longer time after an election to form a governments than the Iraqis have done so far. And, to put it mildly, the routine isn't really there.

But more worth noting is the way in which it is Kirkuk and the issues around that are blocking progress.

The Kurds are now demanding that the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk should be included in their provinces.

The likelihood that the Arabs would agree to that looks very limited. It's also something that would gravely concern the northern neighbour of Turkey in view of the significant Turkoman minority in Kiurkuk.

On top of that, they are demanding that their share of Iraq's oil revenue is increased from 17 to 25 %. That's a large amount of money.

It might well take both more of time and additional drama until these issues are resolved.