Kirkuk: ex PM Allawi leading over Kurdish parties
by Layla Yousif Rahema
With 92 per cent of ballots counted, secular Al-Iraqiyah coalition heading for victory over the Kurdistania alliance. The province is strategically important because of its huge oil reserves. Former prime minister, who is ahead of outgoing PM al-Maliki, might also score a victory at the national level as well.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Before the March 7 parliamentary elections in Iraq, there was no question of who dominated politics in ethnically mixed Kirkuk; it was the two main political parties in the neighbouring Kurdish autonomous region: Massud Barzani’s Democratic Party of Kurdistan (PDK) and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (ADK). After 92 per cent of the ballots were counted, the situation is different.

Before the election, the Kurdistan Alliance (which includes both PDK and ADK) was seen as the probable winner. After it, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s secular Al-Iraqiyah coalition appears to be ahead by a slim margin of 3,000 votes. This could give the province’s Turkmen and Arab minorities a greater voice.

Should this scenario materialise, Kurdish hopes for the annexation of oil-rich Tamin province would become more complicated.

For the first time, Turkmen and Arabs ran under the same banner, that of the Al-Iraqiyah coalition, which never shied away from setting this goal as its top election objective.

The relative decline of the Kurdistania alliance as the PDK-ADK coalition is called was not only the result of the Turkmen-Arab alliance but also because of a split in the Kurdish camp with the rise of the Goran party.

Kirkuk thus remains a time bomb because of its oil, which was the reason Saddam tried to “Arabise” the city by displacing Kurds and bringing in Arab settlers. Now, displaced Kurds are coming back and want to reclaim the city for their own autonomous region.

For analysts, whatever the outcome of the elections, the community (whether Shia or Sunni Arab, Kurdish or Turkoman) that feels estranged by the election results will not accept the verdict of the ballot box without a protest.

Tensions are also rising at the national level where final results are expected on 26 March. Victory might go to the Al-Iraqiyah coalition, which is currently leading the vote count by a margin of 7,000 votes over the State of Law alliance led by outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In the meantime, the Central Election Commission has rejected demands for a recount.