Kirkuk Governor: Not a Cent from Baghdad!

The USG Open Source Center translates an interview with the governor of oil-rich, ethnically turbulent Kirkuk city:

Iraq: Kirkuk Governor's Complaints Against Baghdad Regarding Article 140

Interview. Falah Karim. Third and last part: 'Kirkuk governor: Apart from the 25 m dollars that Dr Barham granted to us, we have not received a cent from Baghdad'

Kurdistani Nuwe

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 T13:45:15Z

Document Type: OSC Translated Text

As it was mentioned in the government's programme, it had been decided to start the implementation of Article 140 of the constitution. To get information on that issue and on many other issues related to the conditions in the city of Kirkuk, we arranged this interview with the governor of Kirkuk city, Abd-al-Rahman Mustafa. We will publish the interview in several parts.

*How do you find Kirkuk's conditions?

-In what respect?

*With regard to security conditions, the services and rehabilitation?

-If we assess conscientiously, we find that the conditions in Kirkuk, comparatively speaking, are better than all the other 15 governorates following the collapse of the dictatorship. Its administration is also better than all the others.

*In what way are they better? I was coming here through some alleys. Service has been absent from them.

-We all know that the Ba'th regime was hard at destroying Kirkuk for 35 years. For instance, four great districts in Kirkuk (Shorija, Arasa, Qala and Tis'in) were left in ruins and were razed. The majority of our administrative subdistricts (Qara Hanjir, Sar Garan, Shwan and Yaichi) had been destroyed and had disappeared. In our present small area, more than 700 of our villages have been destroyed. There has been categorically no budget in Kirkuk for rendering services. Rather, there was always one for destruction. Besides, the process of liberating Kirkuk with that military operation augmented the negative sides, for most of the government's equipment and institutions were looted and burnt down.

We have proceeded from that state to the present state, when our electricity power is rather good, and our water supply is good. We used to have a district that was ironically called (a barrel of water) since its people were dying for a drop of water. Now we no longer have such a case. Most of the roads have been repaired.

*Yes, but still the majority of the displaced people who have retuned are living in tents.

- At present and three years after our liberation, apart form the 25 m dollars that (the PUK leader and Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister) Dr Barham (Salih) brought to us when he was the Deputy Prime Minister of Dr Ayad Allawi, we have not received five cents from Baghdad. Despite all the conflict we had with Dr Ja'fari, who used to say that we would not go (to Baghdad) to bring the money, since 2nd January 2006 when he said that to date, which is more than five months, I have been writing to Baghdad in this respect and we have our associates in Baghdad. They have not sent one cent. If you take into account our need of money and the lack of money and resources, you will realize that great achievements have been made.

We have put an end to the policy of Arabization in these circumstances. We have made work opportunities available, and appointed people. For the first time we have dug a tunnel inside Kirkuk. We are building a bridge for the pedestrians across the Khasa river for the first time. For the first time the original inhabitants of Kirkuk are coming back to their own city from the other governorates. For the first time a flyover is built along with parks and recreations in Kirkuk. These accomplishments give us pleasure because the ruins that we inherited were deplorable.

*I did not say that nothing has been achieved. I said there is little service.

-For my part I clarified that there have been accomplishments. Yet, we still have a lot to do.

*You said that the government of Iraq has sent only 25 m dollars to Kirkuk. Therefore, the rest that you have received has been from the regional government. Also, as it was announced, about 83 m. dollars has been spent on Kirkuk by the then administration of Sulaymaniyah. Has this been sent to you or how has it been spent?

-We thank both the former administrations that have helped Kirkuk tremendously. We hope that in the wake of their unification that help will increase and we will achieve our goals. However, the reality is that none of those administrations functioned through the council. Rather, each person has worked through his own party and representative. They did not even consult us. We would have been pleased if we had been consulted.

*What have they done?

-Much has been done. They have tried to rehabilitate most of the villages. They have asphalted the roads and covered the alleys inside Kirkuk with cement. With regard to sports, educations and the university they have offered their support. However, if it had been through us, it would have been better because we are better familiar with the problems and the people bring their demands to us. However, as the people of Kirkuk we thank them.

Baghdad still owes us 28m dollars, which Dr Ja'fari talked about. Our representative has been in Baghdad for a week. We have criticized them bitterly, particularly Bayan Jabr Solagh, who is now the Iraqi Treasury Minister. They have asked us to submit next year's budget to them. We told them that they have not carried out their commitment of last year yet. How can we prepare a budget? Our contractors are still working and we are waiting for the funds, but they have not arrived yet, while today is 10th June. However, through the programme of the acceleration of the rehabilitation and development of the regions, the sum of 122m Iraqi Dinars has been allocated for Kirkuk. Only 10 per cent of that sum has arrived.

*However, that ten per cent is enough for 700 projects that you have announced.

-They have not reached 700 projects. However, the projects are not tremendous ones. We have done this so that the funds will not return because we have to spend it by the end of this year. However, we do not believe in that because they themselves have delayed the funds and their programme has started late. However we have set up the commission of developing Kirkuk which I am heading. We meet every week. We have drawn up all the projects and have sent them to the council. The council will give its approval and give them back to the concerned offices to be implemented. It is important that we get the funds because the projects are not too huge to be implemented. However, we are doubtful of Baghdad. It always reassures us but it does not keep its words. We have managed to thwart their unfavourable policies. However, their financial policy is hard, which poses a great problem. That is why we have started our own programme. We are confident that if we want to turn Kirkuk again into a modern city, we cannot do that with 20-30 m dollars. It may need 2-4 b dollars. Furthermore, it needs time. For it is not feasible to dig all the streets simultaneously. If we do so, we have to stop life in the city. It is this very fact that prevents the services from being rendered as they should.

*Are the projects that you have suggested for the revitalization of Kirkuk horizontal or vertical?

-They cover both sides. We cannot ignore what is already there. Nor can we stop thinking of new projects. Every governorate draws up projects according to its own needs. However, one characteristic distinguishes Kirkuk from some of the other governorates, which is oil. Oil has been produced in Kirkuk since 1927. However, never have the people of Kirkuk benefited from it. The oil has been the backbone of the Iraqi economy in the past and at present as well. According to the constitution, each governorate has to get benefit from a quantity of its own natural sources for its own needs. That article has to be implemented.

*Have you implemented it?

-To date, the constitution has not been put into effect in that way to make us also follow suit and get benefit from it. However, we have currently a plan in our hands that enables us to get benefit.

*How much is your governorate's revenue from oil proceeds?

-So far and as the conditions are not stable, we have been unable to know. Still, it is apparent how much profitable it is. If part of this revenue is allotted to us, we can turn Kirkuk with it into a paradise. However, what can we do? So far the constitution has put spokes in our wheel and tied our hands. It has not addressed that question and has not issued laws and resolutions for it. For instance, we have been in negotiations for 10 months with the representative of the UN secretary-general and its office in Baghdad over the issue that nothing has been done for Kirkuk. We asked them to clean our city for us. They asked us to provide them with a programme for the mechanism of cleaning the city. For our inability has caused the accumulation of great quantities of trash inside the city. Our programme had been set for ten months. But they said they could do it for only nine months. Now, it has been about 15 days since we endorsed a contract. However, I said, ' I am sad as much as I am happy for the success of those ten-month efforts because all that work costs what is equal to the funds from one day's proceedings of Kirkuk's oil.

If I myself am in possession of my own proceeds, why should I ask an organization to do that task for me and yet be content with all their conditions? This is the reality of our work in Kirkuk. I would like the people of Kirkuk to be aware of how we work and know how much we work.

Kirkuk's crude oil goes to Beji's refinery. But we do not have fuel. Therefore we sat with the other senior officials and issued a warning that if the conditions persist on being so, we will not ban the oil from getting to Beji. As we saw, afterwards, the transportation insurance was paid and we got the fuel. That is why it is very difficult to work in Kirkuk. It is never that easy. What has been done for Kirkuk during this short period of time does not indeed rise to the demands of the people and it does not satisfy our hearts. However there have been good achievements. Actually, we have started since 2004 to work, because formerly no budget had been allocated to us.

*Has the commission for the implementation of Article 58 visited you following the formation of the Iraqi government?

-No. On the day of the reunification of the Kurdistan Regional Government I met Hamid Majid Musa in the Parliament of Kurdistan. He is the chairman of that commission. I urged that he, too, should make further efforts, so that we would create a pressure and that commission would be activated. However he, too, had his own criticism.

*Who was his criticism against?

-It was against the federal government which does not address the needs as it should.

*Do you believe that even in this government, the experience of the others will recur towards that issue?

-No, I do not think so. I am optimistic with caution, because our experiment was bitter with both governments. We have to make serious efforts and use all our authorities for the implementation of that article and specify a deadline. If nothing is done by that deadline, we have all to take a stand.

(Description of Source: Al-Sulaymaniyah Kurdistani Nuwe in Sorani Kurdish -- daily newspaper published by Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)) '

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