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Iraq: Kurdistan Islamic Union Responds To Attacks

Mas'ud Barzani, president of Iraq's Kurdish Region (epa) Four people were killed on 6 December during an attack on the offices of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU). Among those killed was a senior KIU official. In an interview conducted on 7 December and aired on the same day, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) asked a member of the KIU’s leadership, Abu Bakr Karwani, for the bloc’s response to the attacks in Dahuk, capital of one of three Kurd-controlled governorates, and in five other towns in the region. With Iraqis preparing to go to the polls to vote in parliamentary elections on 15 December, RFI also asked about the possible impact on Kurdish political dialogue after the vote.

Karwani: Our position was clearly outlined in the statement that the Kurdistan Islamic Union issued. We strongly condemn the attacks against our offices in the Bahdinan region [which falls within the Dahuk governorate], which we labeled brazen and unjustifiable.

RFI: Can these acts be seen as a violation of the law on electoral campaigning? What will your reaction be?

Karwani: I think the definition of a violation is clear, and this has been an outright violation. This is a clear and scandalous violation. Violence was used, people killed, and some 30 injured, with others arrested.

At this very moment, members of the Kurdistan Islamic Union are being raided and harassed. We are therefore pursuing all peaceful measures available. We have contacted the [Kurdistan] region’s president [Mas’ud Barzani], the president of the Republic of Iraq [Jalal Talabani], and the UNHCR [the UN High Commissioner for Refugees]. The leadership of the Kurdistan Islamic Union will gather to decide what steps and measures to take next following the incidents that have affected our brothers in the region.

RFI: You hinted in your statement that the perpetrators of these acts are supporters of the Kurdistan Coalition List. Did you do anything that could have upset the List and provoked it to attack your offices?

Karwani: We do not think so. In Kurdistan, however, there is no strong history of a culture of democracy and of respect to others’ opinions. That is why the mere fact that we entered the [political] scene as a list [separate from the Kurdistan Coalition List] was [perceived by some as] a crime. That proved unsettling and provocative.

RFI: Kurdish media have recently paid major attention to the Kurdistan Islamic Union’s withdrawal from the Kurdistan Coalition List [in late October] and to the fact that you took part in the previous elections [in January 2005] with the List. Do you think your withdrawal may have further ramifications for Kurdish dialogue about the future of Kurdistan?

Karwani: We do not think so. We feel ourselves to be part of the people of Kurdistan and one of Kurdistan’s political groupings. If we win a seat in the Iraqi parliament, we will strongly defend the justified causes of the people of Kurdistan.

Our program is clear on this: we identify ourselves with all the key causes of the [political] scene in Kurdistan. It can only be that a few people on the rival list have on occasion [chosen] to launch a psychological war or to distort the image of the Kurdistan Islamic Union […]. Our separate position in the [election] has not affected our pro-Kurdish discourse. We are one of the parties in Kurdistan. We are a civic party with a religious orientation. We have no militia or other tools of violence.

(Translated by Petr Kubalek)

Iraqi Election Poster

Iraqi Election Poster

Click on the poster for an enlarged image.

The Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission issued posters in Arabic and the two dialects of Kurdish on the allocation of National Assembly seats by governorate for the 15 December National Assembly election. The poster says, "230 seats for the governorates, as well as 45 compensatory and national seats," while the corresponding map shows the breakdown of seats by governorate.

For more background on the election, click here .

For a complete archive of RFE/RL coverage, background, and analysis of the December 15, 2005, legislative elections, click here.

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