Monday, January 18, 2010

Rand: US must maintain forces along Kurdish borders


By Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Amsterdam - The non-profit think tank Rand Corporation advices the United States to maintain troops in regions with ethnically mixed populations, to protect minority groups in the disputed regions.

The report, called, The Impact of U.S. Military Drawdown in Iraq on Displaced and Other Vulnerable Populations, was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The report argues that the withdrawal of US forces, which started in June 2009, will affect vulnerable and at-risk populations. The report notes that ‘small minority groups’, like the Yezidi Kurds, Turkmen, Kurds, Assyrians, and other minorities have relied on U.S. forces for protection.

Therefore Rand advises the US to keep troops in and around the borders of the Kurdistan region (Duhok, Sulemaniyah, Erbil). “However, maintaining U.S. forces and some oversight in areas where there remain substantial ethnically mixed populations, and thus higher risk of violence, may make sense. This means maintaining forces longer in Baghdad, Diyala, and along the border of the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government].”

The report also calls protection for other refugee groups in Iraq, like ethnic Kurds from Turkey, Iran and Syria, ethnic Arabs from Syria, and Ahwazi Arabs from Iran.

Last Wednesday, Maj. General Athony Cucolo, who is responsible for the Northern Regions, said the US is mostly concerned about the Kurdish-Arab tensions and affirmed the US army will keep most troops in and around Kurdistan. “I do see that when the dust settles on 50,000, perhaps more will be in the north, yes,” he declared.

According to article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, the situation in ethnically mixed provinces like Mosul and Kirkuk was supposed to be "normalised", a census taken, and a referendum held, to establish whether the inhabitants wanted to join Kurdistan or stay with Baghdad. But none of this happened due to continued tensions and refusal of Baghdad to carry out the article. In October 2010 the census will be carried out (Photo:

© Rudaw