Iraq’s Policy of Ethnic Cleansing:

Onslaught to change national/demographic characteristics of the

Kirkuk Region




Nouri Talabany

Professor of Law

Prefaced by Lord Eric Avebury








Table of Contents


A brief review of the History and Geography of the Kirkuk Region.


The History of the settlement of Turkmans in the area.


An estimate of the population of the Turkmans in Iraq


The geographic distribution of the Turkmans


The occupations of the Turkmans


Changing the national identity of some Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmans.


The status of the city of Kirkuk under the Ottomans and during the monarchy.


Relations between the Sunni and Shi’a Turkmans.


The political orientation of the Turkmans.


Relations between Kurds and Turkmans in the area.


Attempts to Arabize the Kirkuk Region.


The period of the monarchy.


The period from 1958 to 1968.


The period from 1968 to the present.


Measures taken by the regime inside the city of Kirkuk.


Measures taken by the regime to Arabize the Kirkuk Governorate:

a. The administrative city of Kirkuk.

b. The district of Dubz (Arabized to Al -Dibiss).

c. The district of Haweeja.

d. The district of Chamchamal.

e. The district of Duz-Khurmatu.

f. The district of Kifri.

g. The district of Kala’r.


The outcome of Arabization and the destruction of the Kirkuk Region.

References and Footnotes.







I am very glad to have been invited to write this preface to Dr. Nouri Talabany’s important study of demographic engineering in the region of Kirkuk.

According to the latest report of the UN Special Reporter on Iraq, Max van der Stole, Iraq remains by far and away the state with the largest number of cases of disappearance. There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and tens of thousands more are de facto refugees in Jordan. But in addition to those who vanished into thin air, or fled into exile, there are uncounted numbers of internally displaced. The Marsh Arabs of the south are not the only victims of Saddam’s terror, as Dr. Talabany shows, and the systematic alteration of the population mix in Kirkuk region has been going on for much longer. It began almost immediately after the Bathi’st assumed power by coup d’etat in 1968, and in the process, tens of thousands of Kurdish families have been forcibly transported into exile. This atrocity, in the worst tradition of the late Joseph Stalin, has been unaccountably overlooked in the west, yet it has profound implications for any post-Saddam settlement in Iraq. Will the dispossessed be restored to their homes and lands, as we insist in the case of Bosnia? Or is ethnic cleansing permissible when it is done quietly enough?

Dr. Talabany has done the world a valuable service in exposing Saddam’s ethnocidal designs against the Kurdish people of Kirkuk. Let this be added to the list of crimes against humanity for which, one day, Inshallah, he will be made to pay !


Lord Avebury


Parliamentary Human Rights Group

House of Lords.

April 10, 1995







The Kirkuk region, rich in its oil fields and farm lands, has been one of the principal obstacles to finding a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Iraq.

Geographically, the region straddles the strategic trade routes between Anatolia, Iran and Iraq. This has been the main reason for attempts by former ruling powers to settle Turkmans in the region. However, the discovery of vast quantities of oil in the region after World War I supplied the impetus for the annexation of the former Ottoman Wilayet of Mosul (of which the Kirkuk region was a part), to the Iraqi kingdom established in 1921. Since then, and particularly from 1963 onwards, there have been continuous attempts to change the ethnic make-up of the region.

To understand the reasons for this policy one needs, briefly, to consider the geography, history and demography of the Kirkuk region. An analysis of the situation both before and after these attempts, should clarify it.

To obtain information regarding the region’s history and geography for this study, we have consulted, and cited as reference, the most objective sources available, regardless of whether these sources were in Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, French or English. For instance, Shamsudin Sami, the Turkish historian, explorer and author of the Ottoman "Qamous al-A`ala’m," a comprehensive dictionary of history and geography, cannot be considered a supporter of the Kurds, yet his writings have been used as a source. The same is true of the Iraqi author Shakir Khesback, who is well known for his scholarly integrity. One can affirm the same kind of impartiality for the many Western scholars and researchers who have contributed to the section on Kirkuk in the Islamic Encyclopedia, as well as for the two prominent Kurdish scholars Mohammed Ameen Zaki and Tawfiq Wahbi.

This book is mainly devoted to a study and analysis of the open and deliberate attempts by various Iraqi regimes to change the ethnic and demographic composition of the region. The task of discovering accurate information, especially during the last two decades, was fraught with difficulty because of the problems in gaining access to the numerous confidential, official regulations, memoranda and special orders that would substantiate this work.

However, this was overcome through a variety of factors, viz :I am, myself, a native of the city of Kirkuk and have noted these practices since the present Iraqi regime began implementing them. Furthermore, they were usually carried out openly as the enforcement of official acts. In addition, I have had the opportunity to examine some statistical studies on Iraq, together with several studies on the Kurdish region prepared by Kurdish organisations and individuals.

As a matter of policy, the present Iraqi regime has always tried to keep all secret documents, directives, and other acts pertaining to the region, as confidential, and therefore unavailable to persons who were not considered to be part of the regime. Thus, most of the directives and secret orders issued by the "Revolutionary Command Council", the "Committee for the Affairs of the North" and the "National Security Council", plus those of the many security apparatuses, the military intelligence, and the Ba`ath Party organs, as well as those from regional administrative offices, remained inaccessible, with the exception of the very few which found their way into the hands of the Kurdish political organisations.

This all changed, however, after the uprising of March 1991. The Peshmarga (Kurdish partisans) succeeded in removing from the offices of the Ba’ath Party and all the security services in Kurdistan, tons of secret documents relating to Kurdish political parties, organisations, and individuals dating from the 1960s to 1991. Over 18 tons of these were shipped to the Library of Congress in the United States to be classified, documented, and studied in cooperation with "Human Rights Watch". In addition, this organisation secured a copy of a digital database of the 5.5 million-page collection produced by the Defence Intelligence Agency of the USA. These secret files will be opened to the public for the first time under the auspices of the Human Rights Initiative at the University of Colorado at Boulder Archives.

Early studies of them, in particular those regarding the notorious "Anfal" operations, have shown them to contain a wealth of information relating not only to the regime’s efforts to change the ethnic composition of the Kirkuk and other Kurdish regions in the Governorates of Mosul and Diyala, but also to criminal acts which fall within the definition of genocide in accordance with the Paris Convention on Genocide of December 9th, 1948. They reveal the extent of the genocidal campaign against the Kurds and the repeated use of chemical weapons. These secret files contain data on government policies, directives and decrees, military operations and troop movements including the use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War and against the Kurds, the elimination of villages, the Arabization campaign for Kurdish areas and the political and human rights situation during the crisis over Kuwait. Statistical data revealing the number, infrastructure, and demography of Kurdish villages demolished during the past two decades, as well as information regarding the new residential developments built in the city of Kirkuk to house and settle the so-called "new arrivals" have been obtained either from official Government documents or from research based on these documents prepared by some Kurdish organisations.

I would like to express my gratitude to my many friends who, regardless of political allegiance and ethnic origin, offered valuable comments, and to the many Kurdish organisations who provided numerous confidential documents. Without their continued assistance and support, this study would not have been possible.

Finally, I crave the reader’s indulgence for any shortcomings in this work, and hope that it will stimulate further study on the subject by other specialists.

This book was first published in Arabic in 1995. It has also been published in Kurdish. This particular study of the book was translated from the Arabic at the end of 1996.





The Kirkuk region lies between the Zagros mountains in the north-east, the Lower Zab and the Tigris rivers in the west, the Hamreen mountain range in the south, and the Sirwan (Diyala) river in the south-west. It is thought to be the region known during the Sassanic reign as Garmakan, that is, "the land of warmth" or "hot region".

In Syriac chronicles it appears under the name of Beth Garma’i shortened to Bagarmi, then Arabized into Bajermi or Jermakan, which also means "warmth" or " the land of warmth". The area has always been of strategic interest to all the powers who have occupied it throughout the ages because of the trade routes which criss-cross its vast plains and their proximity to the many mountain passes such as the Bazyan, the Basrah and the Sagerma.(1) Consequently, these occupying powers established military garrisons in the nearby cities of Kifri, Dooz-Khurmatu, Daqooq, Altoon-Kopri (Perde’) and Kirkuk city itself, both to defend these cities and to protect the trade routes. These strongholds were used not only for military action against enemies, but also as headquarters for the collecting of customs duties from caravans travelling between western Anatolia, Iraq and Syria, and cities in south western Iran such as Senendaj(Sena), Kermanshah and Hamadan. In the famous dictionary "Qamous Al-A`ala’m", published in Istanbul in 1896 [1315 Hijri], the city of Kirkuk is described as follows: : "It is located within the Wilayet of Mosul which belongs to Kurdistan; it is at a distance of 160 km south-east of the city of Mosul. It is situated amidst a range of parallel hills next to an extended valley called "Adham valley". It is the administrative centre for the Sharazour Sanjak and has a population of 30,000; it has a citadel [fort], 36 mosques, seven schools, 15 Takias, 12 Khans, 1,282 shops, and eight public baths."(2)

The same author describes the demography of Kirkuk in a subsequent section as: : "three quarters of the inhabitants are Kurds and the rest are Turkmans, Arabs, and others. Seven hundred and sixty (760) Jews and four hundred and sixty (460) Chaldians also reside in the city".

The city of Kirkuk, as described in the "Encyclopedia de l`Islam" is characterized as follows: : "It is bordered by the Lower Zab on the north-west, the Hamreen mountains on the west, the Diyala river on the south-west, and the Zagros mountains on the north-east". (3)

According to S.H. Gadd and Sidney Smith, "the present city of Kirkuk stands on the site of the old city of "Arrapha".(4) They add that the Sassanides called the area Garmakan (mentioned earlier) and that the region was often attacked by mountain peoples who inhabited its north-western territories during the Babylonian and Assyrian empires.

Throughout history, the conquerors of Kurdistan have tried to destroy the existing Kurdish emirates one after the other. One may consider the time of occupation of Kurdistan by Saffawis during the reign of Shah Ismail as the point in time at which the enforced settlement of Turkman in the area began. The Saffawid tried to impose the Shi`ite "Kezelbashi" faith on the Kurds, in an attempt to replace the Sunni Moslems whom they did not trust. (5)

The Ottomans, who followed the Saffawis, tried at first to befriend the Kurds so as to incite them to rise against the Shi’a Saffawis. This allowed the Kurdish emirs to win back their sovereignty in some parts of their emirates, including the regions of Arbeel and Kirkuk, which were regained by Said Beg Shah Ali, the emir of the Soran emirate. (6)

Kurdistan became a battleground for a long period between the Shi’a Saffawis, whose capital was Tabreez, and the Sunni Ottomans. This was especially true during the reigns of Shah Tahmasib, Shah Abbas, and Shah Tahmasib Kuli Khan - also known as Nader Shah - and the Ottoman Sultans Sulaiman Qanooni and Murad the Fourth. Kirkuk's strategic location caused it to change hands many times during these wars.






Soon after the Ottoman occupation of Kurdistan, the Sultans realised the importance of Kirkuk for the vital trade and transport routes that passed through it and which connected Anatolia to Iraq and Iran, much as the Saffawis had discovered.(7) Thus, both sides tried to control this strategic route because of its logistical importance during war and its importance to trade during peace. As a result, both sides encouraged their subjects and military personnel to settle in the cities and towns which dotted the route. The route began at Tel`Afar and Mosul in the north, passed through Arbeel, Altoon-Kopri(Perde’’), Kirkuk, Daqooq and Kefri until it reached Baghdad on the one hand, and the cities of Khanaqeen and Mandali on the present Iraq-Iran border on the other. It then continued through Iran to Kermanshah, Hamadan, and other Iranian cities. It was called the Sultan’s route by many historians.

The Iraqi historian Abdul-Razzak Al-Hassani asserts that the Turkmans of this region are : "part of the forces of Sultan Murad the Fourth who recaptured Iraq from the Saffawis in 1638 and remained in these parts to protect this route between the southern and northern Ottoman Wilayets ".(8)

It should be noted that the Turkish Encyclopedia uses the name "Turks" for the inhabitants of these parts rather than the name "Turkmans" as used in Iraq. That means it considers them as Turkish rather than Turkmans.(9)

The power in these areas was normally in the hands of the military who had no direct contact with the indigenous Kurds. Some of the military personnel who settled permanently in these cities began to engage in commerce and to work in their professions. The military power which they held facilitated their settlement, their engagement in trade and their acquisition of large tracts of agricultural land. Their settlement in these areas eventually led to interaction with the local inhabitants and as a result, there was an exchange of cultural values and social traditions- something that was especially promoted by intermarriage.

Another view regarding the origin of the Iraqi Turkmans traces them back to remnants of the Turkman soldiers who served under the Abbasids, the Atabekiens, and the Ottomans.(10)

According to the Turkmans themselves, they migrated to Iraq during the Amawi and Abbasid eras because they were in demand by these rulers as a result of their prowess in battle; however, they acknowledge that this period of their residence in Iraq was one of introduction rather than settlement and, therefore, the Turkmans of that era were integrated into the existing population.(11) They believe that real settlement began during the Seljouki era and was later expanded during the Ottoman era. But this cannot be so as many emirates, most of them Kurdish, were established in the region during the period following the end of the Seljouki reign, a situation that greatly diminished their numbers.

As a chronicle of the powers that ruled the region, the Islamic Encyclopedia states : "The real rulers of the region were the local Kurdish chieftains of the region of Ardalan. The Ottomans were able later to subdue the city - that is Kirkuk - with the aid of the Pashas of the Sharazour Ayalat".(12) It goes on to relate : "An Ayalat was made up of 32 Sanjaks; and Kirkuk, which was one of the Ayalats, became the official headquarters for the Pasha of Sharazour after his palace was destroyed by Shah Ismail Safawi [1571 - 1642]. In 1732, Nader Shah besieged the city of Kirkuk in vain; this was followed the year after by a major battle near the city of Kirkuk in which the Turks met with a crushing defeat. In 1743 the Saffawis recaptured Kirkuk, and it then reverted to the Turks after the peace treaty of 1746. After that, Kirkuk remained a part of the Ottoman empire until the end of World War I when British forces entered it in May of 1918 ".(13)

At the end of World War I, the remnants of the Ottomans on the border of the Mosul Wilayet tried to make contact with Kurdish and Turkman leaders in the region in an effort to regain the Mosul Wilayet and to restore their influence in the area. They dispatched large numbers of former Ottoman military officers, particularly those of Kurdish origin, as emissaries to Sheik Mahmoud Hafid who ruled large areas of southern Kurdistan at that time, and to other Turkman dignitaries, to persuade them to remain within the Ottoman empire.

During this period the Kurds were trying to persuade the western countries to pass a resolution that would include the implementation of the terms of the Sevres treaty, which was ratified on August 10, 1920, and which stipulated the establishment of a Kurdish entity in Ottoman Kurdistan in two stages. They had dispatched General Sheriff Pasha as an envoy to Paris to contact the participants of the Versailles Conference that was held at the end of World War I.

British policy in the area underwent a change at this period. The British started to work actively for the annexation of the former Ottoman Wilayet of Mosul to the newly established Iraqi kingdom which, until then, was comprised of the former Wilayets of Baghdad and Basrah only. The British administration responsible for Iraq and southern Kurdistan organised a referendum in 1921 to determine whether emir Faisal bin Hussein was acceptable as king. The great majority of the people of the Kirkuk region, which was directly administered by British political officers, rejected this proposal. Other Kurdish areas, notably the Sulaimania region, refused even to take part in the referendum. Kirkuk later became a part of the Iraqi kingdom when the League of Nations, in its 37th Assembly of December 16, 1924, in Geneva, decreed that all the land below the "Brussels Line" should revert to the Iraqi kingdom. This decision was based on the recommendations of a fact-finding commission sent to the area by the League of Nations.(14)

The Islamic Encyclopedia describes the ethnic composition of the Kirkuk region, with particular reference to the Turkmans, as follows : "The Turkmans of some of the villages belong to a nonconformist and heretical sect called Kizilbashi". It goes on to relate the history of the Turkmans and the chronology of their habitation there, and states : "It is thought that their passing presence in Kirkuk and the origin of this presence precedes the conquering of the city by the Ottoman Sultans; therefore, one must look to the Turkish garrison that the Caliph installed there in the third century Hijri [ninth century AD], or to the migration of the Seljoukies, the Beckties, and the Atabikies in Arbeel, for an answer. Whichever the case may be, these Turkmans always supported the Ottoman empire and were a good source of civil servants for them".(15) It then describes the administration of the Kirkuk region during the last phase of the Ottoman rule thus :"Kirkuk was the centre of the Sharazour Ayalat which was comprised of the present day "Liwa" of Kirkuk, Arbeel, and Sulaimania. Later , the Sanjak of Kirkuk was called Sharazour and the Liwa of Kirkuk was annexed to it while the historic Sharazour (Sulaimania) remained outside the new Sanjak. In 1879, the Wilayet of Mosul was founded and made up of the three Sanjaks or (Liwas) of Mosul, Kirkuk, and Sulaimania with Kirkuk retaining its military significance. In 1918 three districts north of the Lower Zab were detached from the ethno-geographic district of Kirkuk to form the new Liwa of Arbeel".(16)

After the inception of the Iraqi state in 1921, the Wilayet of Mosul was annexed to it in 1925. Kirkuk then became a Liwa that was comprised of four districts : The district of central Kirkuk', and the districts of Kifri, Chamchamal and Gill.

From the above, one can conclude that focci of Turkmans have been present in the region since the time of their enforced settlement in the area by the Saffawis and Ottomans, each of whom wanted their own subjects to colonise the cities surrounding the strategic trade and military routes between Anatolia, Iraq and Iran. The fact that there are no Turkman concentrations outside these cities corroborates our view. The response that these regions, i.e., "the regions between Tel`Afar and Mandali, were inhabited by Turkmans many centuries earlier, and that the reason for their presence in these lands is that of choice" has no historical or logical foundation. It is not logical for the indigenous Kurds to have bequeathed these lands to the remnants of the Seljoukies, just because " it agrees with their choice" and "it is also known that the Turkmans prefer fertile plains that have an abundance of water...".(17)

The origin of the Turkmans who live in the cities around the strategic Sultan routes can be ascertained by a quick look at these Turkman concentrations. Less than half the Turkmans living in these cities belong to the Shi`ite Kizilbashi sect of the Safawis; the rest belong to the Sunni (Hanafit) sect which was the official sect of the Ottoman rulers.

Most of the indigenous Kurds are Shafi`it/ Sunnis. The Shi’a Turkmans have their own culture, and have rituals of their own which differ from those of the Sunni Turkmans. The two sects have different dialects also; the Shi’a Turkmans' dialect is more akin to that of the Azeri Turkmans.

On the whole, one can make the following observations about the Turkman minority, both Sunni and Shi’a, who live in the region :

1. Estimated number of Turkmans in Iraq:

Estimates of the number of Turkmans made public during the twenties and thirties, put them at 2.1 - 2.4 % of the total population of Iraq at that time.(18) In the Iraqi official 1957 census, this approximate percentage was basically confirmed, and the results revealed that Turkmans made up 2.16% of the total population.(19) However, this percentage decreased in later censuses because the authorities deliberately ignored the Turkmans' ethnic origin and classed many of them as Arabs. Thus in the official 1977 census, they became 1.15 % of the total population of Iraq.(20) This fall in percentage figures was for Kirkuk, as well as for the other Governorates where Turkmans resided, especially the Governorate of Niniva (Mosul). Thus, whereas the Turkmans’ percentage in Kirkuk was 21.4 % in the 1957 census, it became 16.75 % in the 1977 census.(21) The same was true for the Governorate of Mosul, which was 4.8% in 1957 and became 0.99 % in 1977.(22) This declining trend clearly demonstrates the results of the Arabization policies of the Iraqi regime, especially towards Kurds and Turkmans during later years.

2. Ethno-geographic distribution of the Turkmans:

Most of the Sunni Turkmans live in the city of Kirkuk, while the Shi’a Turkmans live in the smaller towns that are centres of districts and sub-districts, or in a few villages nearby.(23)

The Sunni Turkmans also comprise a small percentage of the city of Arbeel (capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) and of the towns of Altoon- Kopri /Perde’ and Kifri, both of which are in the Kirkuk Governorate. They accounted for less than 5 % in the city of Arbeel in the 1957 census. This percentage remained basically unchanged in later censuses, and was 6 % in 1965 and 6.5 % in 1977. The same thing happened in the town of Kifri : it went from 7.7 % in 1965 to 5.7 % in 1977.(24) In the town of Altoon- Kopri, which is the centre of a sub-district that belongs to the district of Kirkuk, there are some Sunni Turkmans. They also make up a majority in the villages of Yaichi, Topzawa, and Blawa which were annexed to the Kirkuk municipality in recent years.

Most of the Shi’a Turkmans live in the hubs of the districts and sub-districts that are part of the Kirkuk Governorate and in a few village centres such as the village of Tssin (Arabized to Al-Tiseen), a village that is very close to the city of Kirkuk and that was later annexed to it. They also live in the centre of the Layla’n sub-district, which lies twenty kilometres to the south-east of Kirkuk, and in the centre of Taza-Khormatou, which is the hub of a sub-district lying ten kilometres to the south of Kirkuk on the main Kirkuk-Baghdad road, and in a few villages that belong to it. There is also a Shi’a Turkman majority in the town of Daqooq (Tawooq), which lies thirty kilometres south of Kirkuk on the main road to Baghdad and which had a total population of one thousand nine hundred and twenty six according to 1957 census.

The Shi’a Turkmans now make up about one-third of the population of the town of Dooz-Khurmatu. This town later became the hub of a district and was annexed to the Governorate of Salahadeen (Tikreet) in 1976, despite its geographic distance from it, in order to lower the percentage of Kurds in the Governorate of Kirkuk and to redistribute them into other Governorates.

Two new sub-districts, Sulaiman Beg and A`merli, were also set up in the district of Dooz-Khurmatu. The Bayat tribe, who are Moguls ethnically, live in the villages in this area. Most of these people lost their original language as a result of intermingling with the Arab tribes living south of the Hamreen mountain range.

The Shi’a Turkmans also live in the town of Qarateppa, which is the hub of a sub-district that belongs to the district of Kifri and which is surrounded by a number of Kurdish and Arabic villages.

3. Vocations and trades of the Turkmans:

The majority of the Shi’a Turkmans are farmers. Those who are town and city dwellers engage in handicrafts and other trades and commerce. The Ottoman rulers paid little attention to this segment of the community; they were not actively recruited into the civil service, and, therefore, their standard of living remained below that of the Sunni Turkmans. In that, they were treated much like the Kurds (despite the Kurds’ Sunni affiliation) in contrast to the Sunni Turkmans who always enjoyed a better standard of living. This higher standard of living and their residence in larger towns and cities allowed them to send their children to school (which was then only possible in large cities), to educate them and to groom them for civil service positions- a privilege that Sunni Turkmans enjoyed for the duration of the Ottoman rule and those of the monarchical and republican regimes. However, when the entrance to the civil service in Kirkuk was restricted to ethnic Arabs only, many of the Turkman civil servants were transferred to other parts of Iraq. Despite that, the Sunni Turkmans still dominate commerce and trade in the city of Kirkuk.

They also held senior positions in IPC (the Iraqi Petroleum Company). In contrast, the Kurds were assigned secondary jobs in the company for decades, before they were all gradually eliminated. The nationalisation of the oil industry in 1972 led, eventually, to the discharge of the Kurdish workers first, followed later by the dismissal of most of the Turkman employees as well.

4. Changes in ethnic identity of some Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmans:

One result of the Turkmans’ monopoly of the civil service and commerce in Kirkuk during both the Ottoman and Iraqi rules was a change in the national-ethnic identity of some Kurdish families who had ambitions of becoming civil servants and/or attaining a prominent role in trade or commerce. This phenomenon began during the Ottoman rule and continued into monarchical Iraq. Consequently, some Kurds, particularly those living in Turkman quarters, did not declare their national-ethnic origin or else deliberately registered themselves as Turkmans during official censuses. Intermarriage, especially between migrants from Kurdish villages and Turkman city dwellers, further promoted this phenomenon. This has been confirmed by many of the elderly of Kirkuk who assert that many Turkman families, even among the notables, are originally ethnic Kurds. For instance, the family of Yaqubi is originally from the Zangana Kurdish tribe.

The same situation arose among some of the Arab families who migrated to Kirkuk in search of work, particularly at IPC . Many families migrated from the Arab cities of Tikreet and Mosul and adopted Turkmani as their language. They were later to play a prominent role in the regime’s efforts to Arabize the city of Kirkuk; their descendants joined the Ba`ath party and were rewarded with sensitive civil service jobs. Muzhir Al-Tikreeti was the first person of Arab origin to assume such a position; he was appointed Mayor of Kirkuk in 1969, an appointive office that has been monopolized by Arabs ever since ( i.e. the Mayor was not elected, but chosen by the minister of the interior). The direction of ethnic identity changes was reversed after the Ba`ath Party came to power in Iraq. Many Kurds and Turkmans registered themselves as Arabs to avoid enforced relocation or administrative transfer to other Governorates, or to protect their employment or commercial interests.

5. The city of Kirkuk during the Ottoman period and the Iraqi monarchy:

The Ottoman policy of encouraging their subjects to populate the region by awarding them civil service positions or other privileges, has already been mentioned. Suffice it to say here that the franchise for pumping petroleum from the Baba-Gurgur oil fields near Kirkuk city itself and selling it for local consumption, was granted to the Turkman family of Nafitchi-zada. Despite this, the Ottomans did not expel the Kurds from the city, nor did they deny the ethnic make-up of the city as being one in which a Kurdish majority co-existed with Turkmans and other ethnic groups. Therefore, they usually appointed a Kurd or a Turkman to the sensitive position of Mayor, a position that is normally awarded to a member of the majority group.

Monarchical Iraq followed the same general policy, but they awarded sensitive positions, such as that of Governor or General Commanding the Second Army Division stationed in Kirkuk, to Arabs, and occasionally to Kurds. Of the Kurds who were appointed Governor, one can mention Saeed Kazaz, Rasheed Najeeb and Mustafa Karadaghi while citing Marshal Bakir Sedki [the leader of the 1936 coup d`etat in Iraq] and General Saleh Zaki Tawfiq, as Kurds who commanded the Second Army Division.

Some Turkmans, such as Majeed Yaqubi, have also been appointed Governor while others, such as General Khalil Zaki and General Mustafa Raghib, have been appointed Commanders of the Second Army Division. On the other hand, the post of Mayor has mostly been awarded to Kurds, and in only a few instances to Turkmans.(25)

In general, however, most cabinets of monarchical Iraq encouraged Arabs to settle in Kirkuk. For instance, the cabinet of Yaseen Al-Hashimi in 1935 (during King Ghazi's rule) even plotted to resettle the Arab Ubeid tribes in the Haweeja (part of the Kirkuk region), as will be seen later.

It is worth noting that, throughout the monarchical period, two-thirds of the members representing the Kirkuk Governorate in the House of Representatives (Parliament) were Kurds and the other one-third were Turkmans and, sometimes, one Arab. This representation in the Iraqi Parliament reflected, to a great extent, the ethnic composition of the Governorate before the policy of expelling Kurds and settling Arabs in their place began in the early sixties.

6. Relations between the Sunni and the Shi’a Turkman sects:

In general, relations between the two sects remained cool until the late fifties. This may have been the result of differences in cultural practices and customs as well as linguistic differences. However, sectarian differences have been the main reason for their divergence, a factor that has led to a lack of intermarriage among them. For instance, Shi’a Turkman men, in recent years mainly the elderly, do not shave or trim their moustaches; also they consider the Imam Ali ibn Abi-Talib to be a saint, as does the extreme Shi’a group, the "Al Haq". In fact, even relations between the Shi’a Turkmans and their religious superiors in Al-Najaf (the saint’s city in southern Iraq) were lukewarm until the early fifties when clerics from Al-Najaf began to visit them and to preach to them, particularly during some special Shi’a religious rites.

7. Political orientation of the Turkmans:

The Turkmans have a number of political organisations. The Sunni Turkmans usually sent their children to Turkey for their university education, where they were accepted whatever their marks. These graduates of Turkish universities would return with ideas of Turkism, and later try actively to propagate these ideas; indeed, some of these same graduates became, and are now, leaders of some of the ethnic Turkman political parties. For the most part the Sunni Turkmans are conservatives who had advocated collaboration with the powers that be throughout contemporary Iraqi history, whereas a few young Shi’a Turkmans have mostly inclined to the left; a fact that gave Communist Party organisers a free hand from the time of the monarchy, particularly in the small towns of Qarateppa and Dooz- Khurmatu.

As a generalisation, one can say that the Sunni Turkmans are more inclined towards Turkey and the Ottomans, while the Shi’a Turkmans lean towards Iran, beginning, expressly, in 1979 when the clergy deposed the Shah and assumed power.(26)

The present-day Turkman parties all possess nationalistic and Turkmanistic ideas; their leaders now reside in either liberated Iraqi Kurdistan, or outside Iraq, especially in Turkey where they receive considerable support from the Turkish authorities. The Shi’a Turkmans still incline towards Iran and have their own political organisations.

8. Relations between the Kurds and the Turkmans in the region:

The Ottoman policy of favouring and sponsoring Sunni Turkmans over Shi’a Turkmans and Kurds created feelings of animosity and bitterness among the Kurds and Shi’a Turkmans. Despite this, there are no records of bloodshed among them except for the bloody riots which took place in Kirkuk in 1959 during the first anniversary celebration of the July 1958 revolution. In a later section, we shall discuss the reasons for this clash in which both the Iraqi Government and other groups played an infamous role in fomenting discord between Kurds and Turkmans and in inciting them to riot.

What is unfortunate is that some of the leaders on both sides were actually provoking the rioters, mainly because of their political narrow-mindedness.

What the Turkman political leaders should realise now is that it is in the interest of their own people to strengthen the spirit of racial harmony between them and the Kurds, inasmuch as both groups live in a region known as Kurdistan both historically and geographically. Anything else will produce discord and conflict among them. Bitter experience has shown that misguided leadership can only be of benefit to third parties who wish to take advantage of both sides and, in the process, to eliminate them. Unfortunately, the majority of the Turkman leaders maintain a very strong relationship with the Turkish authorities who support them by every possible means. Nevertheless, a small minority of them now realise that the Turkish authorities are using them for their own ends and, for that reason, are beginning to distance themselves from Turkey and to accept that they are a part of the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. They have established their base in Sulaimania.







On October 31, 1918, the British entered the city of Kirkuk following the "Modros truce". The British army, under General Marshall, had previously occupied this city on May 17, 1918, and left it on the 27th of the same month only to reoccupy it at the end of October of the same year following the signing of the Modros Peace Treaty.

The British forces stayed in Kirkuk under the direct command of political officers and it seems that the discovery of large oil reserves in Kirkuk led to a fundamental change in British policy towards the Kurdish question in general and the Kirkuk region in particular.

At first, there was a tendency among some British officers in the region to favour the creation of a Kurdish state that would extend northward to Lake Van, or about one hundred and fifty-five kilometres north of the current borders of Iraq, as proposed by Captain Noel, a British political officer who had travelled throughout the Kurdish region. Then the policy changed to one of working actively to annex the Wilayet of Mosul (currently Iraqi Kurdistan) to the Kingdom of Iraq.(27)

Successive Iraqi governments tried to change the ethnic character of the Kirkuk region with the help, at first, of the oil company which began operating under a purely British administration in 1925 by employing large numbers of Arabs, Assyrians, and Armenians brought in from other provinces.(28) Then the aim of changing the ethnic character of Kirkuk in particular and the entire Kurdish region in general, became a permanent policy of all the successive regimes that have ruled Iraq since the coup of February 8, 1963, and especially since the second Ba’ath coup of July 1968. In order to explain the extent of this campaign and its various phases, we have divided the Arabization of the Kirkuk region into three stages:

A. The period of the monarchy

B. The first republican period (1958 - 1968)

C. The second republican period (1968 - to the present)

A. The period of the Monarchy:

The Ottoman Mosul Wilayet, of which the Kirkuk region is a central part, was annexed to the Iraqi Kingdom at the end of 1925. King Faisal the First visited Kirkuk, after visiting Mosul in December 1924, urging the population to demand to join the new Iraqi state. The visit was used as the occasion to raise the Iraqi flag on the Government building in the city. The administration of the province was in the hands of British political officers assisted by local officials, the majority of whom were Sunni Turkmans. These officials continued to hold their positions even after the annexation of the province to the Iraqi Kingdom.

Later, however, successive Governments invariably appointed Arabs to the key positions of Governor of the province and Commander of the Iraqi army’s Second Division, stationed in Kirkuk. From the very outset, the Government, in cooperation with the British oil company operating in Kirkuk, brought large numbers of workers from other provinces to work in the company and then to settle in the city.


The role of the oil company

in changing the ethnic character of Kirkuk

The discovery of vast quantities of oil in Kirkuk was the reason for its annexation, as part of the Mosul Wilayet, to the newly-created Iraqi state. That there was oil in the Baba-Gurgur area near Kirkuk was known from ancient times. Using primitive methods, the Ottoman army had extracted oil from this area for local consumption since 1639. The systematic and organised exploitation of the Kirkuk oil fields didn’t start, however, until March 1925. The Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC), which was established in 1914 in Istanbul was granted the concession to exploit the oil fields in the Mosul and Baghdad Wilayets by the Ottoman state. Before the end of 1925 the company, in which Britain had a substantial share, began conducting geological surveys and constructing roads and essential buildings. Initially, the company employed about fifty British and two thousand five hundred Iraqis and began work in an area near Dooz-Khurmatu, south of Kirkuk. It inaugurated the excavations by holding a huge celebration attended by King Faisal on the First of April 1927. Oil began to flow on October 27, 1927, from the Baba-Gurgur oil fields near Kirkuk.(29) From 1927 to 1931, the company focused on drilling for oil and conducting geological surveys together with building essential facilities such as warehouses, workshops and housing for its employees, especially the foreigners.(30) The name of the company was then changed to the Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC), which was able, around 1931, to exploit most of the land in north-eastern Iraq. The headquarters of the company were moved permanently from Dooz- Khurmatu to Kirkuk. The exporting of crude oil began at the end of 1934 and, in 1935, the dual pipeline was opened to transport crude oil from Kirkuk to the ports of Haifa and Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast. The annual production for 1935 reached about four million tons, making Iraq the eighth largest oil producing country in the world, and the level of production rose steadily from then on. Most of Iraq’s oil was extracted from Kirkuk as it still is today. The establishment of the petroleum industry in Kirkuk led to a significant change in the social and ethnic character of the city, for the oil company employed a large number of people, most of whom were brought from outside the area. This led, in a relatively short time, to the creation of self-contained neighbourhoods within the old quarters of the city and new neighbourhoods made up mostly of Assyrians and Arabs in the area near the oil company’s facilities. The percentage of Kurdish workers employed by the company was lower than all the others. As further proof of this, at the beginning of the fifties, hundreds of housing units were built in an area called "Arrapha" or new Kirkuk. Most of the occupants of these new housing units were Assyrians, Armenians, Arabs and Turkmans, causing the Kurds to feel cheated from the outset because so few of them were employed by the company compared to their percentage of the total population of the city and Governorate of Kirkuk. Thus, the exploitation of the oil fields in Kirkuk and the area around it led to the permanent settling in Kirkuk of a large number of people from other provinces.

Another measure used by the government to settle Arabs in the Kirkuk province was the building of the Haweeja irrigation project.

The building of the Haweeja irrigation project

to settle Arab tribes

In the mid thirties the Government took another step towards settling Arab tribes on the Haweeja plains, which lie to the south west of Kirkuk. This settlement project took the form of "investment units" on the agricultural lands on the plains after water was brought to them by the construction of a large canal that carried water from the Lower Zab. This canal was built mostly by the inmates of the Kirkuk central prison which is why it took almost ten years to complete. This was planned by Yaseen Al-Hashimi’s cabinet during king Ghazi’s reign as a way to settle the Arab tribe of Al-Obeid, which was then leading a nomadic life in the southern parts of the plains. The lack of water and the problems of cultivating the arid land made it difficult for anyone to settle there. Kurdish farmers from the nearby villages used to take their livestock there in the spring, just as some nomadic Arab tribes, like the Al-Obeid and Al-Juboor would use its southern parts as grazing land for their livestock during the same season.

Since the area relies entirely on winter rains, the only kind of agriculture that exists there is the cultivation of cereal crops such as wheat and barley. It was difficult not only for Kurdish farmers, but even for landowners, to cultivate such arid land due to the lack of agricultural machinery. They relied on animals for ploughing and for this reason, most of the land of the Haweeja plains remained uncultivated.

The problem of the Haweeja plains before their revitalisation was similar to that of the Qaraj plains situated in the southern part of the Arbeel Governorate, and the Qarateppa plains, in the southern part of the district of Kifri, in the Kirkuk Governorate, where members of nomadic Arab tribes roamed in the spring. Then the Government gave them the opportunity to settle there and this led to the establishment of groups from the Al-Qurwi and Al-Leheb tribes on the southern Qarateppa plains. Also, other Arab tribes mixed with the Bayat tribe, which was settled on the plains between Kifri and Dooz-Khurmatu extending to the Awa’ Sipi(Aq Su) river. In the same way, groups from the Tay and Al Juboor tribes settled south of the Qaraj plains, south of the Makhmour district in the Arbeel Governorate, between the Upper and Lower Zab rivers.

The existence of some branches of the Al-Obeid Arab tribe in the southern Haweeja plains and their continuous clashes with the Al-Azzah Arab tribe, which was settled in the neighbouring Diyala Governorate, was used as a pretext to settle them there, as, after the completion of the Haweeja irrigation project, the Government distributed the land made arable by it, exclusively to members of the Al-Obeid and Al-Juboor tribes and others. Because these tribes had not previously engaged in agriculture but had lived a nomadic life following their livestock and camels in search of grazing land, the Government assigned a number of advisers to teach them agricultural skills. Instead of distributing these arable lands to everyone, Arab and Kurd alike, the Government in brought Arab tribes who knew nothing about agriculture and who had never engaged in farming before, built modern villages for them and distributed the land among them! This was the first Arab settlement in the Kirkuk province, planned and executed by various Iraqi governments during the era of the monarchy.

According to the 1957 census, the population of the Al-Obeid tribe reached eleven thousand ten years after it was settled in the south western part of the Haweeja project, in an area of about one thousand square kilometres. The population of the Al-Juboor tribe, according to the same census, reached twelve thousand five hundred and ninety five (12,595). This tribe was settled from the start in the area located between the Lower Zab river and the western part of the irrigation project, amounting to some nine hundred (900) square kilometres. As for the Albu-Hamdan tribe, numbering two thousand one hundred and forty (2,140) according to the 1957 census, they settled in the area between the Lower Zab river and the road joining Haweeja with Kirkuk and lived in fourteen villages in an area of about one hundred square kilometres. Some people from the towns of Tikreet and Al Door settled in the district centre of Haweeja and in five villages on each side of Hafrul-Qubal within an area of one hundred square kilometres. The total population of the Arab tribes who were settled in the district of Haweeja, according to the 1957 census, was twenty seven thousand seven hundred and five (27,705).(31) The Government declared this area a sub-district (Nahia) named Haweeja (Malha) within the jurisdiction of Kirkuk. In 1963, the Ba’ath regime elevated it to a district by the same name with two sub-districts in its jurisdiction, firstly Al-Riyadh and later Al-Abassiah.

Regrettably, the members of the Arab tribes who were settled on the Haweeja plains from the mid-forties onwards participated, with the exception of a few of the Al-Obeid tribal leaders like Sheik Nazim Al-Assi and his brother Muzhir, in the armed attacks waged by the army on Kurdish villages in 1963 and thereafter. They were formed into irregular units under the name of the ‘Knights of Khaled bin Waleed" and used, together with Kurdish mercenaries known as "Knights of Salahadeen," and alongside army units, in the attacks on Kurdish villages, on the pretext of there being Kurdish Peshmargas there or that the villagers were helping the Peshmargas.(32)

B- The period from 1958 to 1968:

In 1958 following the July 14 revolution and the change in the system of government, the military, headed by of a group of army officers, assumed real power in Iraq. The cabinet, headed by Brigadier Abdul-Karim Qassim, who was also Defence minister, and Colonel Abdul-Salam Arif, deputy prime minister and interior minister, became the highest authority in Iraq with both executive and legislative powers.

Shortly after the revolution, Brigadier Nazim Al-Tabaqchali was appointed Commander of the army’s Second Division which had its headquarters in Kirkuk. All units in the north of Iraq from Mosul to Sulaimania came under his command and, although the new regime appointed a number of new Arab governors to administer the northern Governorates, the real power remained in the hands of the military in the person of the Commander of the army’s Second Division in Kirkuk.

Al-Tabaqchali came from an Arab family in Baghdad (originally from Syria) known for its nationalistic views. He was known in particular for his nationalistic-Islamic views, as was Colonel Arif.(33) His wife was a Turkman from Tel’Afar. As mentioned before, the Sunni Turkmans living in Kirkuk and other areas are known, for the most part, for their conservative and right-wing views; therefore, they were on good terms with the regime during the monarchy. For this reason, those of them who had government positions under the Ottoman rule kept these positions during the monarchy. Since the new Second Division Commander was also known for his conservative political views, there was an immediate rapprochement between him and prominent Turkman personalities and the Turkman community in Kirkuk generally. Thus, Al-Tabaqchali would accept their invitations, attend their dinner parties and banquets, and meet with them regularly. This meant that the situation in the city remained unchanged as most Turkman government officials retained their positions. The only step he took, though, was to ask the interior ministry to remove the Kurdish Mayor of the city and to replace him with a Turkman mayor, the lawyer Nuradeen Al-Wa’iz, a leading member of the "Moslem Brothers" in the city, even though he was of Kurdish descent.

In order to give a clear picture of the thinking and ideas of the new Second Division Commander regarding the situation in the city and the Kurdish region as a whole, we include, in an appendix to this study, a number of official memoranda bearing Brigadier Nazim Al-Tabaqchali’s signature and addressed to the relevant authorities in the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry which was in charge of the country during that period.(34)

These official memoranda reveal clearly the Second Division command’s attitude towards the Turkmans and the Kurds. They also include inaccurate and sometimes false information supplied to the country’s military and political leadership in order to distort the reputation of the Kurds and their leadership and their alleged demand to establish a "Kurdish Republic" which would be a nucleus for other parts of Kurdistan. The truth is that these ideas did not exist, except in the imaginations of the Second Division Commander and his command group - a group of nationalistic Arab officers opposed to all the aspirations of the Kurdish people. Even the simplest ones, such as using Kurdish as a medium of instruction in schools, promoting Kurdish culture, opening a university in Kurdistan, and establishing a special education department to supervise Kurdish instruction in the region - issues that were mentioned and discussed in the many memoranda submitted officially during that period to the prime minister and the ministry of education, and some of which were later implemented - were regarded by the Second Division Command as an attempt to "resurrect the Kurdistan region" or to establish the "Republic of Kurdistan," which would "include most of the area located east of the Tigris river to the Gulf of Basrah"!

Indeed, during his tenure of office as the Second Division Commander, Al-Tabaqchali took no measure in Kirkuk or in the entire Kurdish region that would indicate a change in the country. On the contrary, the security forces in the region continued to hunt down the same people they had pursued before and on the same charges. This situation continued until March 1959, when an attempted coup took place in Mosul led by Colonel Al-Shawaf, the base Commander there, and supported by a number of army officers in Mosul, Kirkuk, and Baghdad. The Arab nationalistic and Islamic elements supported the coup attempt, the failure of which led to the charge being brought against them and a number of Arab nationalistic officers, in addition to officials of the government of Syria, (which was then part of the United Arab Republic), of setting up a broadcasting station in Mosul a few days before the coup attempt. The announcement of the coup by Al-Shawaf was broadcast by the Damascus and Cairo radio stations before its broadcast by the local Mosul radio station.

The leaders of the Turkmans in Kirkuk were apparently aware of the planned coup attempt. Thus, its failure caused a rift in the close relationship that had always existed between the influential circles of the Turkman community and the regime. Following the failure of the coup, Brigadier Nazim Al-Tabaqchali and his staff officers in the Second Division were dismissed. Later, they were arrested and a special commission of inquiry was set up to investigate. On his arrival in Kirkuk the newly-appointed Commander of the army’s Second Division, Brigadier Dawood Al-Janabi, who was known for his leftist views, promptly set up a second commission of inquiry headed by Colonel Kamal Majeed. Its task was to investigate Al-Tabaqchali’s associates and those in close touch with them, among them a number of prominent Turkmans. The commission ordered the arrest of a large number of people of various nationalities -Kurds, Turkmans, Arabs, and others - as it broadened the scope of its inquiry and began to examine anyone suspected of disloyalty to the new republican regime. There were, certainly, excesses committed by some commission members during the investigation of the accused, especially by Lieutenant Fakhri Karim, the division’s chief of military police and a communist from Baghdad. A large number of Kurdish landowners from the other Kurdish Governorates were also arrested on the pretext of their being supporters of the deposed monarchy and opponents of the new regime.

On the recommendation of the commission of inquiry, the Military Governor General at the Ministry of Defence issued an order transferring to Baghdad some of those arrested and sending others, including some Turkman officials, into exile in cities in southern Iraq. It is true to say that the short period from March to June 1959 was a difficult time for the Turkman leaders because they were subjected for the first time to persecution by the authorities, including arrest and exile.

During this same period, the Communist Party supporters took control of the youth organisations, trade unions, and professional associations. They were also able to infiltrate the ranks of the armed forces, assisted in their efforts by Brigadier Dawood Al-Janabi, Commander of the Second Division. These conditions were not unique to Kirkuk but were prevalent throughout Iraq.(35)

It seems that the increased influence of the Communist Party in the armed forces and its control of most of the trade unions, youth and professional organisations, including the armed organisations known as the "Popular Resistance", in addition to the excesses and violations committed by some communists in many parts of Iraq at this time, caused Brigadier Qassim to change his policy of depending on and using the leftists to strike at groups opposed to him, such as the Arab nationalists, the Ba’athists, and Islamists. So on June 11th, 1959 he declared an amnesty for most of the political prisoners and exiles, including the Turkmans, and in the middle of the same month in his office in the Ministry of Defence, he received the Turkman leaders whom he had just released and affirmed his support for them. He also ordered the return to their original posts in Kirkuk of those government officials who had been transferred. He had already dismissed Brigadier Dawood Al-Janabi at the beginning of June, 1959, and had transferred most of his associates to units outside the Second Division and appointed Colonel Abdul-Razzaq Mahmoud, who was then the Commander of the third brigade of the same division, as Acting Commander. Colonel Mahmoud was known to be an Arab nationalist despite his pretence of loyalty to Lt.General Qassim.(36)

The reference to the changes in the Second Division’s leadership during this time is necessary in order to explain the situation prevailing in Kirkuk before the first anniversary of the July 1958 revolution. These rapid changes created a turbulent atmosphere throughout the area due to the intense conflict between the Kurds and leftists, aided by the retired division Commander on the one hand, and the Turkmans and conservative circles in Kirkuk, including Kurds and others who had the support of the new division leadership and the security apparatus, as well as of the high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Defence, on the other. The Turkman leaders just released from goal or returned from exile, looked with deep hatred upon the communists for causing their arrest or banishment. For their part, the communists and members and supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, although still in full control of the trade unions and all youth and professional organisations in Kirkuk, and in control of the streets too, were unhappy about the new developments.(37) It was as if the two sides were just waiting for something to happen so that each could demonstrate the extent of its power and popularity and the degree of the regime’s support for it.

The first anniversary of the July 1958 revolution provided just such an opportunity to settle the contest. Due to the lasting consequences of the bloody and regrettable events that took place in Kirkuk during the celebrations of that anniversary, we will try to discuss the reasons that led to these events, the circumstances that affected them and how they erupted, in a special appendix to this study.(38)

Following the return of relative calm to the city on the evening of July 15, 1959, a number of military units arrived from Baghdad and, later, took certain measures whose repercussions for Kirkuk and the whole area are still evident today. The Ministry of Defence ordered the transfer to southern Iraq of entire units of the Second Division, including the fourth brigade, most of whose members were Kurds. From then on there prevailed an air of suppression and terror against the Kurds. Following the afore-mentioned events and on orders of the Military Governor General of Iraq, a special commission of inquiry was set up to investigate. Included in its membership were Arab nationalistic officers headed by a Turkman officer named Colonel Abdulla Abdul-Rahman.(39) From the moment the commission arrived in the city, there was collaboration between some of its members and certain Turkman lawyers and other officials in the Governorate to indict various individuals, specially leaders of youth and professional organisations and trade unions. As a result, the commission ordered the arrest of a large number of people, most of whom were brought before military tribunals in Baghdad on charges of assault and incitement to murder. The tribunals passed the death sentence on twenty seven Kurds and one Turkman from among the leaders of the various organisations. In addition, heavy sentences were imposed on many others, most of whom were affiliated to the Communist Party or to the Kurdish Democratic Party.

Following the coup of February 8, 1963, those leaders sentenced to death were publicly executed in a square in Kirkuk.

That we have touched briefly on these events is because most of those who have written about them have neglected to discuss, objectively and impartially, the reasons behind them and the manner in which they occurred. Indeed, their writings and memoirs were published in Iraq after the Ba’ath party seized power there. However, there are a number of scholars who have discussed them with complete impartiality. Notable among them is Hanna Batatu, a Palestinian writer and US citizen, who visited Iraq during the mid-sixties when he was able to study many confidential documents and memoranda from the security service and other sources in Baghdad and Kirkuk.(40) A friend living in the United States told me that, on meeting Batatu a few year ago, he had asked him whether, during that visit, he had met any communists or Kurds to ascertain their views. His answer was in the negative because the Baghdad regime had not allowed him to do so.

The Arab nationalistic newspapers which Lt.General Qassim permitted to be published during this period conducted an intense attack on the Iraqi left, thus assisting the mass media in the Arab countries and Turkey to carry out a deliberate campaign of distortion and exaggeration. Indeed, Lt.General Qassim’s speech in the Mar Yousif Church in Baghdad on the evening of July 19, 1959, in which he accused the left of being behind the matter even before the investigation had begun, influenced the investigating process and the commission of inquiry charged with examining the causes leading to them and putting those responsible for them on trial.(41) Lt.General Qassim later retracted his accusation when he learnt the truth. This was one of the reasons why the death sentences passed on the accused were not carried out.(42)

This whole episode had far-reaching and negative consequences whose danger the Kurdish and Turkman leaders were unaware of till later when the regime began the Arabization of Kirkuk and the entire region, targeting first the stronger group - the Kurds - and later the Turkman as well. For two decades, many Turkmans were used as tools to carry out the Arabization policy before this same policy began to be implemented against them also at the beginning of the eighties.

Another dangerous repercussion of the Kirkuk events, which nobody has mentioned, was the formation of secret Turkman terrorist organisations who conspired with some officials in the security service, like the director, Noori Al-Khayat, to assassinate well- known Kurds. The first to be killed was a fifty-year-old named Mohammed Ameen Sharbatchi, who was shot in front of his shop even though he was not a member of any political party, union or organisation. These killings led many Kurdish families to leave Kirkuk and to move to other cities.

During the same period, terrorist organisations were formed in Baghdad and elsewhere mostly among members of the Ba’ath Party. Their purpose was to threaten families known for their left-wing views and to compel them to leave some parts of the city, so as to convert these parts later into "closed neighbourhoods" where weapons were stockpiled to be used against the regime of Qassim. This same phenomenon infected Kirkuk also, where secret Turkman organisations in league with groups in Baghdad and Mosul opposed to the regime, would intimidate Kurds in the same way so as to create "closed neighbourhoods" there too. To accomplish their aims, they resorted to killing, to burning homes, shops and business establishments and even to spraying the faces of their victims with sulphuric acid. These systematic attacks forced many Kurds to leave the city for good, or to abandon their homes in the affected neighbourhoods as they were unable to sell them no matter how low the price.

The number of Kurds who were victims of assassination and attack in the aftermath of the Kirkuk events exceeded the number of Turkmans killed during that time. The cooperation between some people in the security service and the leaders of those Turkman organisations particularly responsible for the killings and attacks was evident from the fact that the authorities made no arrests and the criminals remained " unknown" or " unidentified," which encouraged them to commit further crimes.

This wave of violence and terror forced a large number of Kurdish civil service workers to ask to be transferred to other cities. In addition, the Governorate’s authorities transferred to cities in southern and central Iraq, Kurds who did not request a transfer, including elementary and secondary schoolteachers.

The security police in the Governorate increased the pressure not only on Communist Party supporters and sympathizers, but also on Kurdistan Democratic Party members and supporters and on other Kurds who were not affiliated to any political party or were totally disinterested in politics. These assaults continued until the February 1963 coup. Following that coup, the Kurds, irrespective of political affiliations or inclinations, were subjected to a further systematic campaign of arrest and assault leading to the uprooting of many and the arrest of thousands of others, as we will make clear later.

Parallel to this, and as a result of full-scale cooperation between the security apparatus in Kirkuk and the secret Turkman organisations during that time, there appeared youthful Turkman elements who were in contact with the leaders of the coup and who participated actively in it from the start.

In the aftermath of the 1963 coup, the Kurds in Kirkuk were subjected to wholesale abuse at the hands the participants in the coup and members of the "National Guard," which was made up of, and controlled, by Turkman youths. The first act of the "National Guard", in collaboration with the security apparatus in the city, was to demolish a whole neighbourhood called "Koma’ri" ( Republican ), which was home to impoverished Kurds. Taking part in the destruction was all the city’s mechanized force under the supervision of the "National Guard". The regime, with the assistance of most Turkmans, intensified its retaliatory acts against the Kurds inside the city of Kirkuk and in the towns of the Governorate after the resumption of the fighting in Kurdistan in June 1963. The army, the "National Guard" and the mercenaries, conducted an aggressive campaign against all Kurds with the exception of a small minority who were co-operating with the regime.

Measures taken by the February 1963 coup organisers in the Kirkuk Governorate

The measures taken by the organisers of the February 1963 coup included the following :

  • The destruction of the Kurdish villages near the city of Kirkuk, in particular those near the oil fields. This amounted to thirteen villages, viz: Sona Goli, Yarwali, Panja Ali, Wali Pasha, Qizilqaya, Cheeman Gawra, Cheeman Bechuk, Jawl Bor, Hanjeera, Qutan, Qushqaya, Shoraw and Bajwan.
  • The expulsion of all the Kurds living in the villages which were under the jurisdiction of the sub-district of Dubz- now the district of Al-Dibiss- and the resettling of those villages with Arab tribes under the leadership of one ‘Aw’as Sadeed from the Al-Delem tribe. This operation involved the following villages: Qaradara, Amsha, Mar’i, Qala ‘Arbat, Kitka, Qutani Khalifa, Qutani Kurdakan, Sekaniyan, Gurga Chal, Shekhan, Nadirawa, Dirkay Kurdakan, Qara-Haybat, ‘AlaGher, Mama, Sheernaw, Taqtaq, Kuna Rewi, Chakhmakha, and Malha. The campaign to drive out the Kurds and then Arabize their villages covered the following villages also: Jastana, Darband, Sarbashakh, Parkana, ‘Awla Khan, Saralu, Shinagha, Dirkay Gawra, Dirkay Bechuk, Chawt, Kesma, Tal-Halala, Gazumishan, Garaw, and others.
  • The dismissal of large numbers of the oil company’s Kurdish workers or their transfer to facilities outside the Governorate. Many low-ranking civil servants, including elementary and secondary schoolteachers were transferred to southern and central Iraq.
  • The hiring of large numbers of Arabs as local police or workers in the oil company despite their lack of any previous experience as most of them were tribal people.
  • The establishment of numerous military observation posts on the hills and high ground around the city and in areas near the oil facilities, and the designation of these places as "security zones" barred from approach after having been planted with mines.
  • The arming of Arab tribes brought in to be resettled in the Kurdish villages. Irregular units were formed from the Al-Obeid and Al-Juboor and other Arab tribes to support the army in its attacks on the Peshmarga and the residents of the Kurdish villages in the area.
  • The changing of names of schools and streets of Kirkuk and the forcing of owners of business establishments to use Arabic names for their businesses in accordance with the Arabization policy which was being practiced openly.
  • The conducting of a large military campaign against most of the villages of the Governorate so as to terrorize their inhabitants and force them to abandon their villages in order to settle Arabs in their place.

The policy of deportation, the destruction of Kurdish villages in the Governorate, the demolition of Kurdish neighbourhoods in the city of Kirkuk which compelled their inhabitants to leave the city for good, and the transferring of the majority of the Kurdish civil servants and workers to southern and central Iraq became a permanent policy of successive Iraqi governments from the beginning of 1963 to 1968. Furthermore, those same governments encouraged some Kurds to become mercenaries in order to divide the Kurds and to play off one group against another by forming irregular units from among the mercenaries and offering them financial inducements. Large sums of money were offered to those carrying arms for the regime and threats made to demolish their villages if they refused to do so.


C. The period from 1968 to the present:

The Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party returned to power in a military coup on July 17, 1968. The leader of the coup tried at first to reassure the public and promised not to copy the violent behaviour or use the methods practiced following the February 1963 coup. Their aim was to improve their image both at home and abroad due to the gross violation of human rights they had committed following their seizure of power in 1963.

However, the Ba’ath policy of Arabizing Kirkuk and giving the Arabs a numerical majority did not change at all. On the contrary, that policy took on a more pervasive character and continued to be carried out according to a systematic and calculated plan and a fixed state policy. To this end, leading members of the Ba’ath party were appointed as governors of Kirkuk and granted wide and extraordinary authority for the purpose of implementing this Arabization policy which, in the words of one of the former Kirkuk governors, "has become part of official policy at the highest levels of government."(43)

Shortly after seizing power, the regime began to take the following measures in order to change the ethnic character of the city of Kirkuk and the entire Governorate.


Measures taken by the regime in

the city of Kirkuk

  • The remainder of the low-ranking civil servants, including Kurdish elementary and secondary schoolteachers, as well as workers in various Government Departments and in the oil company facilities, were transferred to areas outside the Kirkuk Governorate and replaced with Arab civil servants and workers. A Kurd who leaves Kirkuk for any reason whatsoever is barred from ever returning there. This happened to most of the civil servants and workers who were transferred to other Governorates on government orders. Later, when they were retired or their jobs were terminated and they wanted to return to their city where they owned homes with deeds in their names, they were barred from returning. This was my experience in 1982 when I was compulsorily retired from the university of Baghdad for political reasons and was forbidden to return to my own home in Kirkuk.
  • The names of Kurdish neighbourhoods were changed and Arabic names were given to schools, streets, and markets in Kirkuk and the owners of commercial establishments were forced to adopt Arabic names for their businesses. For instance, the "Raheem Awa’" neighbourhood was given the Arabic name "Al-Andalus," and "A’sso" elementary school for boys was renamed, in Arabic, "Al-Tali’ah", whilst Kurdistan secondary school for boys was given the Arabic name "Abdul-Malik bin Marwan."
  • Wide streets were opened up in the Kurdish neighbourhoods, like a sixty-metre-wide street in Shorija quarter for instance, and the houses that had to be demolished for this purpose were appropriated in return for very little compensation. The owners of these properties were not permitted to buy houses or land in the city of Kirkuk in order to force them to leave.
  • New lists were added to the lists of names in the 1957 census and the names of the Arab new-comers were registered in those new lists to give the impression that they had been living in Kirkuk since 1957 or earlier. Thus, the state has practiced official fraud, and continues to do so today.
  • The Kurds were forbidden to sell their homes and properties in Kirkuk except to Arabs and were prevented from buying homes and properties under any circumstances. The city administration refused to grant any "building permit" or "permit to renovate" to Kurds, even if their homes were badly in need of renovation, in order to force them to sell their homes or abandon them and then move out of the city. Later these measures were also applied to the Turkmans .
  • Various "charges" were levelled by the regime against many Kurds to scare them into leaving the city and then their homes and properties were appropriated. Also, many Kurdish youths were arrested by the security police without any trial or investigation. People living in the area used to witness security police vehicles taking the corpses of men and women wearing Kurdish costumes for burial in a cemetery which the people called "Ghareeban" (the outsiders), located near the Kirkuk-Sulaimania road.
  • The Governorate’s administrative offices were moved from their old location to the Arabized section of the city on both sides of the road between Kirkuk and Baghdad. The headquarters of the trade unions, professional and other organisations were also moved to the same area.
  • Factories and government facilities were built in the area near the Kirkuk-Haweeja-Tikreet road and thousands of residential units were constructed for the Arab workers employed there.
  • The city and the area surrounding it was transformed into a large military camp and military fortifications were built inside and outside Kirkuk. The historic castle in the city was turned into a military fort and used as a base for rockets and artillery aimed at the Kurdish and Turkman neighbourhoods of the city.
  • A major step in the process of the Arabization of Kirkuk was the settling of tens of thousands of Arab families in successive waves with guaranteed housing and jobs. Parallel to this policy, the regime announced the grant of a monetary gift or bonus to any Kurd who would leave Kirkuk, in addition to securing housing for him in southern or central Iraq, or offering him, free of charge, a plot of residential land on which to build in the "Autonomous Region"- a name given to parts of Kurdistan by the Ba’ath regime. In the seventies and eighties, several complete residential sections were built in the city of Kirkuk in which to settle Arabs. Most of these new settlers were appointed to the police department, the security department or to the intelligence agencies and the army, or were employed as workers in government facilities. Many of these new settlers were also assigned to the military observation posts around Kirkuk and in party organisations. The residential neighbourhoods which were built inside the city of Kirkuk to settle the Arab new-comers up until the end of 1989 are :
  1. Six hundred housing units built in the area between the two Kurdish quarters of Azadi and Iskan, near the road between Kirkuk and Sulaimania and given the Arabic name of "Al-Karamah". An army camp was built near the newly-constructed quarter to protect its residents. This was all done in 1970, a short time after the signing of the March 11, 1970, agreement between the regime and the Kurdish movement.
  2. Between 1972 and 1973 five hundred residential units were built near the Al-Karamah quarter and given the Arabic name of "Al-Muthanna." This quarter is located three kilometres from the Second Division’s ammunition depot on the Kirkuk - Yarwali road.
  3. Between 1981 and 1982 two hundred residential lots were distributed to the relatives of "Saddam’s Qadissiyah Martyrs" near the Kirkuk- Sulaimania road and building grants and interest- free loans made available to them from the real-estate bank. The great majority of these people were Arabs.
  4. A neighbourhood was built under the Arabic name of "Al-Andalus" near the Kurdish neighbourhood of "Rahim Awa’" close to the Kirkuk-Arbeel road for those Arabs employed at the Coca Cola factory, located on the same road. The Arabic name "Al-Andalus" was given to both the new neighbourhood and "Rahim Awa’" in order to Arabize the old name.
  5. About two thousand housing units were built in New-Kirkuk(Arrapha) in 1979 by a state company for contracts, and four thousand more units were built in the same area by a foreign construction company.
  6. A large military airfield was built in Arrapha neighbourhood, south-west of the Kirkuk-Dubz road, opposite the street which runs through the headquarters of the Second Division of the First Corps now stationed in Kirkuk.
  7. Over one thousand more housing units were built on both sides of the Kirkuk- Dubz road for the sulphur extraction company workers and for the oil refinery employees, all of whom are Arabs. This group of homes is called "Public Work Housing."
  8. Five hundred more homes were built in the "Officers’ Quarter" located throughout Kirkuk’s military fort and military airport. These homes are located alongside the entire length of the fort up to the railway and the Kirkuk railway station. Some of these homes were built in front of the main entrances of the military airport and the headquarters of the Second Division, for the high-ranking officers.
  9. Several residential neighbourhoods were built in the area between the Kirkuk fort and the railway station up to "Al-Tiseen" quarter and the Kirkuk-Haweeja-Tikreet road, and also between the Kirkuk-Baghdad road and the television station up to the Khasa river in the following formation :
    1. More than eight hundred houses in a quarter named "Al-Ba’ath".
    2. Several hundred houses in the area between the Kirkuk-Tikreet road and the Kirkuk television station, given the Arabic name of "Al-Wasiti."
    3. About four hundred and fifty houses in the "Al-Sekak" quarter.
    4. More than one hundred houses in the same area given the Arabic name of "Al-Ishtirakiyah" quarter.
    5. Several hundred houses on the left -hand side of the Kirkuk-Baghdad road up to the Khasa river, called the "Al-Gharnata" quarter.
    6. About one thousand houses on the other side of the Khasa river opposite the Kirkuk television station, south of the city on the Kirkuk-Layla’n road given the Arabic name "Al-Hajaj" quarter.
    7. Several hundred houses between Kirkuk’s abattoir and the district of "Al-Hajaj", under the Arabic name of "Al-Uroobah".
    8. Several hundred housing units south of the new Arab "Qutaibah" quarter for the newly arrived police, under the name of "Al-Shurtah" (Police).
    9. Several thousand residential plots beyond the military checkpoint on the Kirkuk-Layla’n road were distributed to the first wave of incoming Arabs to be settled in the area and each family was granted nineteen thousand dinars to build on these plots. In the second phase, several thousand more residential plots were distributed extending eighteen kilometres on both sides of the road between Kirkuk and Layla’n as far as to the Layla’n district itself.
    10. Four hundred apartments were built between the Musalla quarter and the old abattoir. Each Arab family was given ten thousand dinars provided they transferred their census registration records to Kirkuk.
    11. Two hundred plots in the Kurdish neighbourhood of Imam- Qassim were given to a group of Arabs and each of them received ten thousand dinars as a grant, in addition to a loan from a real estate bank, in order to build on those plots.
    12. Over two hundred other houses were built in the same area which was given the Arabic name of "Al-Wuhdah" quarter. Over one hundred and fifty others were built under the Arabic name of Al-Hurryah and over two hundred and twenty more between the Al-Hurryah quarter and the Kurdish quarter of Shorija were built and called "Door Al-Amn".(44)

During the March 1991 uprising and before the city of Kirkuk was liberated on March 20, 1991, Ali Hassan Al-Majeed, then Iraqi minister of Defence, directed and supervised the arrest of thousands of Kurds, among them military men who were in Kirkuk on leave. They were taken to prison in Tikreet and Mosul where they were deprived of food and water for many days. As a consequence many of them died and those who survived were not released until later.

At the beginning of March 1991, he personally supervised the destruction of about eighty homes belonging to Kurds and Turkmans in the Almas quarter near the Gawurb’aghi quarter. Later, in June of the same year, he also supervised the destruction of numerous homes in the Kurdish quarter of Shorija.

The regime continues to deport Kurdish and Turkman residents of the city of Kirkuk. It gives the Kurdish citizen a choice between going to southern Iraq, in which case he is allowed to take his possessions with him, or going to the liberated region of Kurdistan, in which case all his possessions, including real estate, are confiscated. This policy continues to this day and the Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights in Britain has launched many appeals to the Secretary General of the UN and members of the Security Council and others about this matter. Further mention of some of these appeals is made in the Appendixes to this study.

In the latter part of 1996, the new governor of Kirkuk, Ali Hassan Al-Majeed, the first cousin of Saddam Hussein, tried to force all the Kurds and Turkmans resident in the region to register themselves as Arabs. Failure to do this meant banishment to southern Iraq.

Thousands of Kurdish families were prevented from returning to Kirkuk after they were forced to flee the city because of aerial bombardment and shelling by the Republican Guard and Special Forces units which retook the city from the Kurdish Peshmarga at the end of the Gulf war. Even though the agreement signed by the Kurdish leaders and the Iraqi regime in May 1991 clearly stipulated that those forced to flee their homes be permitted to return to their former places of residence, which they had left due to the unusual circumstances, most Kurds were not allowed to return to their homes in Kirkuk. On top of that, their homes, businesses and possessions were confiscated. Most of these Kurds’ businesses and homes in Kirkuk and other Kurdish cities were looted by the Republican Guard, Special Forces, and the new Arab settlers in Kirkuk, after their return to the city in May 1991.

Today, tens of thousands of Kurdish families from Kirkuk live in tents and camps in the liberated area of Kurdistan in extremely harsh conditions which results in the death of many, especially among the children and the elderly. They depend for their survival on assistance from relief organisations and international aid. The Kurdistan regional government has asked the United Nations agencies operating in liberated Kurdistan to intervene with the Iraqi government to permit Kirkuk residents to return to their homes under the supervision of international observers in accordance with the 1991 UN resolution 688, but the regime totally rejected the idea. Till now the regime not only continues to refuse to do this, it also insists on expelling hundreds of families from Kirkuk city and other regions still under its control.

These, briefly, are some of the arbitrary measures which the regime took to Arabize Kirkuk. What follows is a discussion of the measures taken by the regime in order to Arabize the whole Governorate.


Measures taken by the regime to Arabize

the Kirkuk Governorate

Some of the measures taken by the regime to change the ethnic composition of the entire Kirkuk Governorate were:

1. Changing the name of Kirkuk Governorate to the Arabic "Al-Ta’meem" (meaning nationalisation) to mark the nationalisation of the foreign oil companies operating in Iraq on June 1st, 1972. The change in name was for the purpose of Arabizing the name of the Governorate since nationalisation applied to the oil companies operating throughout Iraq, not to Kirkuk alone.(45)

2. Continuing to bring in thousands of Arab families to be settled in Kirkuk and its environs.

Despite the fact that a lot of rigging of the figures by the registrars took place in some of the Kurdish neighbourhoods in Kirkuk in the 1957 census, we regard that census as a basis for the determining of the ethnic composition of the Kirkuk Governorate.(46)

The following Table clarifies this further:

Table No.6

Kirkuk population according to mother

tongue based on the 1957 censuses

Mother tongue

Kirkuk city

Kirkuk Governorate

Total population

Arabic 27,127 82,493 109,620
Kurdish 40, 047 147,540 187,593
Turkish 45,306 38,065 83,371
Chaldean and Syrian 1,509 96 1,605



A quick comparison of the contents of this table with the other censuses held in Iraq following the Arabization programme in the Kurdish region, especially in the Kirkuk Governorate, shows clearly the extent of the Arabization programme which the regime has implemented. As a result, the percentage of Arabs in the Kirkuk Governorate has increased from 28.2% of the total population according to the 1957 census to 44.41% according to the 1977 census. At the same time, the percentage of the Turkman population has decreased from 21.4% according to the 1957 census to 16.31% according to the 1977 census.(47) The population of the Kurds decreased during the same period from 48.3% to 37.53%. The following table makes this clear:


1957 Census

1977 Census










Table No. 7

Ethnic composition of the Kirkuk Governorate:

A comparison between the 1957 and 1977 censuses

No official statistics are available to us concerning the ethnic composition in either Kirkuk city or Governorate after 1977. However, the fact is that the regime continues to settle Arabs in the city and its environs and to drive out Kurds and Turkmans en masse, as we will show later.

3. The regime resorted to bribery and intimidation to buy agricultural land from some Kurdish landowners. In Daqooq sub-district, for instance, the regime offered, through its agents such as Ali Daham Al-Obeid, to buy their land for fantastic prices while threatening others with the destruction of their villages if they refused to sell. It then took it upon itself to distribute the land to Arab tribes along with government land and other land that was requisitioned for distribution according to the Agrarian Reform Law. A number of new villages were also built for these Arab tribes and police stations and military observation posts set up to protect them from Kurdish Peshmarga attacks. The regime also proceeded to arm them while forbidding Kurdish farmers of the neighbouring villages to own any kind of weapon.

4. All the area around Kirkuk and the oil fields and oil installations in the Governorate was declared a military and security zone. It was then planted with land mines to prevent any possible approach. This measure was preceded by moving the inhabitants of the villages close the area and setting up hundreds of military posts and fortifications alongside it and the roads leading to it, and even along those connecting Kirkuk to the nearby towns.

5. Detaching, from the Kirkuk Governorate, four out the seven districts that had once belonged to it and attaching them to the neighbouring Governorates in order to make the Kurds a minority there. Thus, the two exclusively Kurdish districts of Chamchamal and Kala’r were attached to the neighbouring Sulaimania Governorate, while the Kifri district, where the Kurds constitute a great majority, was attached to the Diyala Governorate, and the Dooz-Khurmatu district with a Kurdish majority was attached to the far-away Salahadeen (Tikreet) Governorate.

The object of this reshuffle was not administrative reform. For instance, the Haweeja district, which is close to the Salahadeen Governorate and has an Arab majority population, was not attached to that Governorate, whereas the more distant Dooz-Khurmatu district was, because there is oil in some parts of it. Moreover, the Chamchamal, Dooz-Khurmatu (formerly Gill) and Kifri districts and Kifri districts had belonged administratively to the Kirkuk Governorate from the time of the Ottomans till 1976. The main aim, obviously, was to strip the Kirkuk Governorate of these Kurdish districts thereby ensuring that the Kurds were in a minority there. In addition, it destroyed most of the villages that were, administratively part of the city of Kirkuk, or settled Arabs in those from which the Kurdish inhabitants had been expelled. This also applied to the Dubz district, where villages have been Arabized since 1963. As for the Haweeja district, Arabs have been brought in and settled there since the mid-forties. Thus, the three districts that are still, administratively, part of the Kirkuk Governorate have been largely Arabized while the other four have been stripped from it.

6. For the same purpose, some Kurdish villages were detached from the Altoon-Kopri (Perde’) sub-district, which adjoins the Arbeel Governorate, and attached to the Qush-Tapa sub-district, which belongs to the city of Arbeel. At the same time, the regime attached to the district of Dubz several Kurdish villages that belonged to the Kandinawa sub-district in the Arbeel Governorate after the Kurds were driven from them, following the discovery of oil. It also tried to attach the Taqtaq sub-district in Koysinjaq district to the city of Kirkuk, following the discovery of oil there. This paved the way for the destruction of all the villages of this sub-district and reduced Taqtaq to no more than a small town with no villages remaining as part of it. Nine villages in the Pala’ni area, which belong to the Qarateppa sub-district in Kifri district were detached and then attached to the Jalawla sub-district in Diyala Governorate. Their Kurdish inhabitants were moved to Al-Anba’r Governorate and members of the Al-Qurwi Arab tribe were settled there.

7. The regime not only brought Arab tribes from southern and central Governorates and settled them in the Kirkuk Governorate, it distributed agricultural land to them, granted them numerous privileges and armed them; it also destroyed hundreds of Kurdish villages and some sub-districts where, for security reasons, it was not possible to settle Arab tribes. Whole populations of these villages were placed in detention camps in other sub-districts, districts and Governorates and forced to live there with no means of livelihood and without even the minimum resources for survival. They were put in these camps which, in the majority of cases were given Arabic names such as "Al-Sumood," "Al-Quds," and "Al-Qadissiyah," .. etc., and kept under the surveillance of the security service so as to prevent anyone from entering or leaving without approval. These camps resemble the concentration camps set up by the Nazis and Fascists during the Second World War.

The following is a list of the villages and sub-districts that were destroyed in Kirkuk Governorate from 1963 to the end of 1989.

  1. The district of Kirkuk Centre:

The following sub-districts belong administratively to the Kirkuk district centre :

Altoon-Kopri(Perde’), Shuwan(Redar), (Qara-Hanjeer), Layla’n(Qara-Hassan), Taza-Khurmatu, and Yaichi.

1. Altoon-Kopri (Perde’) sub-district:

The town of Altoon-Kopri(Perde’), situated on the Lower Zab river on the main road between Kirkuk and Arbeel, is the seat of this sub-district. According to the 1957 census - the only official census we rely on- the population of the town was 3,855. The majority were Kurds and the minority Turkmans. The total population of all the villages that belong to this sub-district was around 148,639, all of whom were Kurds.

In 1969, 1986, and 1988, all the villages that belonged to this sub-district, including the villages on both sides of the main Kirkuk-Arbeel road, were destroyed and their inhabitants moved to detention camps in Arbeel Governorate. Several large military forts were built between Kirkuk and Altoon-Kopri and hundreds of homes constructed inside each of them to house their staff. These military forts include the following :

  1. The Daraman Fort, near the sizable Daraman village, which was destroyed in 1987.
  2. The Saqezli Fort.
  3. The Alton-Kopri Fort.
  4. In 1974, using volunteer civilian labour, the regime built a housing development comprising about one thousand housing units near the Daraman area to house members of the police force. This camp is now uninhabited.
  5. An army camp, a citadel, and one hundred modern homes near the citadel for members of the Air Force.
  6. Another army camp and another citadel were built near the destroyed village of Galwaza. Two settlements were built, the first consisting of one hundred homes for non-commissioned officers and the second of fifty homes for officers.
  7. Kitka army Fort with forty homes, built in 1976.
  8. Gurzayi Fort with forty homes also built in 1976.

It should be noted that these large army camps were built on fertile agricultural land owned by Kurdish farmers, thus causing the destruction of thirty-one (31) Kurdish villages where two thousand and ninety-two (2,092)farming families lived, some of whom were wiped out during the notorious Anfal operations.(48) Since then, the high-ranking military officers and officials of the Governorate have had the agricultural land around the army camps cultivated for their private use.

2 -Shuwan(Redar) sub-district:

This sub-district is located on the main road between Kirkuk and Koysinjaq. The regime began the destruction of some of the villages that belong administratively to this sub-district , such as Qezilqaya and Wali Pasha and others in 1963. Later, all the villages belonging to this sub-district were destroyed, including the sub-district seat, Redar (Shuwan). In all, about seventy (70) villages were destroyed and their two thousand six hundred and fifty (2,650) members of the farming families living there were moved during 1987 and 1988 to the detention camps in the Arbeel Governorate.(49)

Army camps were built in the sub-district seat and in the area around it, thus making the entire area a restricted, military zone with prohibited entry, and cultivation forbidden except by military personnel or officials of the Governorate.

3- Qara-Hanjeer sub-district (which was Arabized to "Al-Rabeegh"):

The town of Qara-Hanjeer lies on the main road between Kirkuk and Sulaimania, a few kilometres from the city of Kirkuk. It was like a resort for Kirkuk residents due to its many orchards and temperate summer weather. This town was made the sub-district seat under the Arabic name of "Al-Rabeegh". Hundreds of small homes were built there to house the inhabitants of the Kurdish villages which had been destroyed and to accommodate hundreds of other Kurdish families expelled from the city of Kirkuk. In addition a large number of Arabs were assigned there to control the sub-district and the detention camp.

The number of villages destroyed in this sub-district was forty-one (41) with a population of about two thousand two hundred and thirty(2,230) farming families during 1969, 1977, 1987 and 1988.(50)

4- Layla’n (Qara-Hassan) sub-district:

Layla’n, the seat of this sub-district, is located twenty kilometres south east of the city of Kirkuk. According to the 1957 census, it had a population of one thousand three hundred and one (1,301), approximately half of them Kurds and the others Shi’a Turkmans. The population of the sub-district’s villages, according to the same census, was twelve thousand five hundred and nine (12,509), all of whom were Kurds. Some of the sub-district’s villages, such as Lower Terkashkan and Tarjeel, became a target of Arabization in 1970 and 1971. In the same year, the regime built a settlement for the Arab buffalo farmers near Tarjeel, which they then abandoned in 1983 after it was attacked by the Peshmargas. In 1987, it built homes for about three hundred Arab families in the town of Layla’n itself.

The villages belonging to this sub-district, a total of forty five (45), some large and some small, were all destroyed in 1986, 1987, and 1988. The number of farming families expelled from these Kurdish villages and forced to settle in detention camps in the Chamchamal district was around two thousand four hundred and twenty-nine (2,429).(51)

Living in the sub-district seat and the neighbouring Yahyawa village were some Shi’a Turkman families who constituted about half the population. These families were engaged in farming and were on good terms with the Kurds living in the town.

5-Taza-Khurmatu(Taza) sub-district:

This is one of the newly-created sub-districts near the city of Kirkuk with Taza-Khurmatu(Taza) as its seat located a few kilometres south of the city, on the main Kirkuk-Baghdad road. Shi’a Turkmans constituted a majority of its population before it was subjected to Arabization. As usual, large numbers of Arab tribes were brought in to be settled in the sub-district seat and in other settlements around it after the regime distributed agricultural land among them and provided those who did not engage in agriculture with other means of livelihood. Thus the Turkmans became a minority compared to the Arabs there and in the two villages of Cherdaghlu and Basheer, which were part of the sub-district.

6- Yaichi sub-district:

This, too, is a newly-created sub-district situated near the Kirkuk - Haweeja road. It used to have as part of it three mainly Turkman villages, Yaichi, Topzawa, and Terkalan. Then several settlements were built in the sub-district and named the "Al-Jumhuriah" settlement, which was made up of over one hundred homes built for Arabs brought from southern Iraq. A military airfield was built in the area and the indigenous people were moved out.

This brief review makes clear what happened to all the Kurdish sub-districts and villages and to some of the Turkman villages of Kirkuk in terms of their total destruction and the removal of their inhabitants to detention camps. Areas which the regime was able to provide with security were Arabized. The majority of these sub-districts and villages were totally destroyed , including some sub-district seats, such as Shuwan.

The regime implemented this policy according to a calculated plan under the direct supervision of the ruling Ba ath party and its military and other oppressive organisations and with the participation of the previous and current Arab settlers in the area. Two hundred and eighteen (218) villages were part of the Kirkuk administrative district centre, with a combined population of sixty one thousand three hundred and ninety four (61,394) at the time of their expulsion. Most of them were farmers and agricultural workers. This figure does not include, of course, those Kurds forced to move out of the city of Kirkuk since 1959 on various pretexts. Whole families were expelled simply because one of their members had been imprisoned for political reasons, or had fled from doing military service or had deserted from the army, or had avoided serving in the ranks of the Ba athist "popular army", or because a very distant relative had joined the Kurdish revolution or had fled abroad, etc. It is worth noting that the regime forced Kurds who had lived in the city of Kirkuk since 1958 to return to the district and sub-district seats of the Kirkuk Governorate without allowing them to transfer their registration records of the 1957 census to the city registry. As has been previously stated, it transferred the registration of tens of thousands of new Arab settlers in Kirkuk to the 1957 census register to give the impression that they had been living there since then (i.e.1957) . In order to carry out this fraud, a number of specialised Ba’athist officials were transferred to the Kirkuk Census Office, (currently the Civil Status office of the Kirkuk Governorate) from other Governorates, while all the Kurdish and Turkman officials from that office were transferred to other government departments or other Governorates.

B. Dubz district , Arabized to "Al-Dibiss":

As mentioned before, the inhabitants of all the Kurdish villages belonging to this district, roughly four thousand two hundred and fifteen (4,215) farming families in 1963, were expelled in the middle of that year and Arab tribes, especially the Al-Juboor and Al-Delem, were brought in and settled there.

The regime also settled groups from Al-Juboor tribes in other Kurdish villages such as Jastan, Darband, Sarbashakh, Barkana, Saralu, Kesma, Chart, Tal Halala, and Garwashan. The village of Sarkaran was made the sub-district seat and named "Al-Quds", (Jerusalem) and one hundred and fifty (150) housing units were built for the sub-district officials and members of the security service and the Ba ath party members. The area was transformed into a large military base with many camps and settlements to house the troops and members of the security and intelligence services, and the sulphur factory and oil refinery workers. Following is a detailed account of the building programme:

  • A large number of homes for the officials and employees of the sulphur factory, all of whom were "incoming Arabs."
  • Several homes a few kilometres from the sulphur factory for the factory guards.
  • One hundred homes in 1977 under the Arabic name of "Maissaloon," near the village of Chiragh.
  • Another settlement north of the village of Qaradara under the Arabic name of "Al-Rafidain."
  • Homes for the employees of the radio and television station.
  • Homes for the members of the security services.
  • A special neighbourhood to house the Arabs in the district seat given the Arabic name of "Al-Muthanna".
  • Another neighbourhood for the same purpose by the Arabic name of "Al-Ta’meem."
  • Another neighbourhood called "July 30th" neighbourhood.
  • A large settlement of more than five hundred homes under the Arabic name of "Huttein" to house officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers working at the military base.

C. Haweeja district:

This is a new district, created for the purpose of settling members of the two Arab tribes of Al-Ubeid and Al-Juboor and others on the Haweeja plains. Large sums of money have been spent since 1963 to build numerous agricultural projects and large poultry farms in addition to service facilities in this district. Many Kurdish families had settled in this district in search of a livelihood, but were expelled at the beginning of 1995.

D. Chamchamal district:

This is one of the old districts that had belonged to the Kirkuk Governorate since the Ottoman rule. It is located between Kirkuk and Sulaimania and has the two sub-districts of Aghjalar and Sangaw within it. According to the 1957 census, the district’s population was thirty four thousand two hundred and ninety nine (34,299), all of whom were Kurds. All the villages that belong to this district were destroyed. They numbered one hundred and sixty-four (164), and included one hundred and two (102) schools, one hundred and fifty-seven (157) mosques, and four small clinics. Nine thousand eight hundred and sixty six (9,866) farming families were expelled from these villages, comprising fifty one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven (51,797) members.(52) Following is a detailed breakdown:

1- Sangaw sub-district:

This sub-district had seventy (70) villages as a part of it, all of which were destroyed in 1987 and 1988, including the sub-district seat. There were two thousand six hundred and forty eight (2,648) farming families in these villages. There were also twenty-eight elementary (28) schools and two small clinics.(53)

2- Aghjalar sub-district

This is an old sub-district of seventy-five (75) villages with sixty-six (66) schools, seventy-three (73) mosques, and two small clinics. A number of these villages were destroyed more than once by the Iraqi army. After being rebuilt, they were burnt down or destroyed yet again. The six thousand seven hundred and thirty one (6,731) farming families living there were forced out and put into detention camps built especially for them near the main road linking Kirkuk and Sulaimania. Some of these families fell victim to the Anfal operations,(54) and several of the villages were the target of chemical and poisonous gas attacks in May 1988, which caused the deaths of hundreds of children and old people, most especially in the villages of Askar, Gawrad, and Mutlija.(55)

Since the Chamchamal district falls within the liberated part of Iraqi Kurdistan, the inhabitants of these destroyed villages have gradually begun to return there to rebuild their homes and resume farming.

E. Dooz-Khurmatu district Arabized to "Al-Tooz":

The seat of this district used to be in the Gill region in the village of Koshk during the Ottoman rule and the beginning of monarchic Iraq. Then the government made the town of Daqooq a district seat and later Dooz-Khurmatu, which lies on the main Kirkuk-Baghdad road, became district seat. According to the 1957 census, the population of the district seat was eight thousand nine hundred and seventy eight (8,978), made up of Kurds and Shi’a Turkmans. The population of the district and its villages and sub-districts was sixty eight thousand five hundred and fifty two (68,552), the majority of whom were Kurds, followed by Turkmans and Arabs.

The regime began Arabizing some of the villages of this district in the mid-seventies, then destroyed the great majority of them because of the difficulty of protecting the new settlers. From 1986 to 1988, nine other villages belonging to the same district seat were destroyed, involving a population of one thousand and fifty eight (1,058) farming families.(56)

In 1976, this district was annexed to the Salahadeen (Tikreet) Governorate, which is at some distance from it, after detaching the Daqooq sub-district from it and annexing it to the Kirkuk district. Several Arab settlements were built there, among them the Yafa settlement near the village of Albusabah to which about three hundred (300) Arab families were brought in 1977. The Al-Muslawi settlement, near the town of Dooz-Khurmatu was built to accommodate five hundred (500) Arab families but it is now uninhabited. This district included the following sub-districts within its previous administrative boundaries: Daqooq, Qadir Karam, Nawjol, Sulaiman Beg and A’mirli.

1. Daqooq (Taooq) sub-district:

The old town of Daqooq lies south of Kirkuk on the main Kirkuk-Dooz Khurmatu-Baghdad road. According to the 1957 census, in addition to Kurds, a population of two thousand seven hundred and six (2,760) Shi’a Turkmans live here. The Kurds live mainly in the villages of this sub-district. Their population, according to the same census, was ten thousand five hundred and sixty seven (10,567), while the population of Arabs was some one thousand three hundred and seventy (1,370) in the village of Shobecha and other neighbouring villages.

The Arabizing of the villages in this area, known for its fertile land, began in the early seventies with the purchase of agricultural land from Kurdish landowners in fifteen (15) villages in the area belonging to the Kakayi and Dawooda tribes. The regime then began distributing this and other state-owned land to the Bedouins and members of the Arab tribes. It built the following settlements, which were covered by the Kirkuk Irrigation Project, now known as the "Saddam Irrigation Project".

  1. The Mahawish settlement, which houses thirty (30) farming families from the Al- ‘Alga’wi tribe. They were settled there in 1979 in thirty housing units.
  2. The Al-Assriyah settlement, near the village of Haftaghar, where numerous Arab tribes have been settled in 480 homes since 1976.
  3. The Hussein Agha settlement, where about four hundred (400) homes were built in which to settle Arabs.
  4. Another settlement between the villages of Albu-Saraj and Haftaghar .
  5. The Daqooq settlement, near the main Kirkuk-Baghdad road, with over five hundred (500) homes for Bedouin Arabs in 1982.
  6. The Klesa settlement, which is next to Daqooq, with 25 homes for Bedouin Arabs.
  7. Two others, near the Al-Assriyah settlement, each with one hundred homes built in 1980 for Bedouin Arabs.
  8. All the Kurdish farmers in the village of Leheb were expelled and Arabs were settled in their place.

It should be noted that numerous police stations, with military observation posts, were built near these settlements to guard against attacks by the Kurdish Peshmargas. The Arab tribes were armed and the Kurds stripped of their weapons in a number of villages that were not targeted for Arabization. In 1973 and 1987 six villages that belonged to this sub-district were destroyed and their eight hundred and sixty (860) farming families expelled.(57) The members of the Quaky Kurdish tribe were registered as Arabs in the 1977 census. They still live in their own villages, which were spared destruction as were some other Kurdish villages. In the same 1977 census, members of the Brazing Kurdish tribe living in some areas of the Governorate, specially in Nadir-Karam and Krepchina were also registered as Arabs. At the end of 1996, Izat Al-Doori, the Iraqi vice-president, gathered together the notables of the Kurdish great families in this district, and later in the whole of the Governorate, and asked them to register themselves as Arabs. This was in preparation for the Census of 1997 when they registered most of the Kurds as Arabs. The names of those who refused to do so were noted for expulsion to other regions.



2. Qadir Karam sub-district:

This very large sub-district lies in the north east of the district. Before its destruction, it possessed two hundred and eighty one (281) prosperous villages with one hundred and sixty (160) schools, one hundred and ninety (190) mosques and twenty one (21) small clinics. According to the 1957 census, the population of the sub-district was thirteen thousand four hundred and twenty six (13,426), all of them Kurds. During 1987 and 1988, eleven thousand six hundred and ninety four (11,694) farming families with sixty one thousand three hundred and ninety four (61,394) members were expelled from its villages and sent to detention camps while others fell victim to the notorious Anfal operations. The regime had burnt many of the villages during the years of fighting between it and the Kurds. It destroyed all these villages later during the two years of the Anfal.(58)

3. Nawjol sub-district:

This is one of the new sub-districts created after drilling for oil began in the area of Zanboor. When the regime began destroying the villages of Kurdistan, it also destroyed the villages belonging to this sub-district, which were thirty-nine (39) in total, with twenty-eight (28) schools, thirty-two (32) mosques, and two small clinics. A total of one thousand nine hundred and sixty nine (1,969) farming families were expelled and sent to detention camps at the district centre between 1985 and 1988.(59)



4. Sulaiman Beg and A’mirli sub-districts:

The Sulaiman Beg sub-district lies south of the Dooz-Khurmatu district on the main Kirkuk-Dooz-Hamreen-Baghdad road. The A’mirli sub-district was created later, and is close to the same road between Sulaiman Beg and the Hamreen mountains. Members of the Mongol tribe of Bayat (originally called Piawoot), live in its villages, most of whom were Arabized through mixing with the incoming Arab tribes from southern Iraq . The Hamreen mountain range, which forms the natural border of Kurdistan in the south, runs south of A’mirli sub-district.(60)

F. Kifri district:

This is an old district which was known during the Ottoman rule as "Salahiyah". It is situated in the south east of the Governorate. According to the 1957 census, its population was sixty four thousand one hundred and thirty five (64,135) made up mostly of Kurds, followed by Turkmans and Arabs.

In 1976, it was attached to the Diyala Governorate as part of the strategy of stripping important parts from the Kurdish Kirkuk Governorate and attaching them to the neighbouring Governorates in order to reduce the number of Kurds there.

The district of Kifri includes several sub-districts, some of which were attached to the Kala’r district, which was newly created and attached to the Sulaimania Governorate. The sub-districts which make up this district are:

1. Sarqala (Sherwana) sub-district:

This sub-district is located north east of the town of Kifri on the main road between Kifri and Kala’r, with Sarqala being its seat. The 1957 census showed the population to be twenty three thousand three hundred and seventy one (23,.371) all of them Kurds. When the process of destroying it began, there were twenty-five (25) villages, with seventeen (17) schools, eighteen (18) mosques and one small clinic in the sub-district seat. A total of nine hundred and eighty two (982) farming families were expelled in 1987 and 1988 and moved to the Al-Sumood settlement, which was built in the newly-created district of Kala’r to house all the Kurds who were driven from the villages.(61)

2. Kokez sub-district:

This is a newly-created sub-district. It was once a part of Qarateppa which had numerous villages, including those of the Zanga’ba’d area. All its twenty-six (26) villages were destroyed in 1976, 1987 and 1988, along with twenty (20) schools, twenty (20) mosques, and one small clinic located in the sub-district seat. One thousand seven hundred and twenty-seven (1,726) farming families were expelled and sent to a detention camp called "Al-Sumood," an Arabic name, in new Kala’r.(62) Members of the Al-Qurwi Arab tribe were settled in a number of the villages after the Kurdish farmers were expelled from them, as in the case of the following villages: Qala, Benabagh, Seelawni, Sheik Baba, Darwesh Mohammed, Abbas Mahmoud, Safar, Awrahman-Kam, and Rashid Bejan. The inhabitants of all these villages are from the Kurdish Zand tribe, and all were moved to the Al-Anba’r Governorate. Oil was discovered in the village of Chalaw Khalid. It is known as the Gumar Oil Field.

3. Jabara sub-district:

This is another newly-created sub-district, lying south of Kifri, near the railway connecting Aski-Kifri with Jalawla and Baghdad. The inhabitants of some of the villages here were forced to abandon them in order to settle Arabs in their place. The remaining villages were destroyed, with the exception of Galabad, Ayn Shukr and Sari-Koy, which are inhabited by members of the Kurdish Gej tribe, who were compelled to register themselves as Arabs belonging to the "Al-Qaisi" tribe! Some of the recently settled Arabs would occasionally rent out the agricultural lands distributed to them to their former Kurdish owners, who then worked on the land as labourers for their new masters! This phenomenon was common in many districts and sub-districts where villages were destroyed and their inhabitants expelled in order to settle Arab tribes there, most of whom had never before worked in agriculture as they were Bedouins. The destruction in this sub-district included thirty Kurdish villages, with twenty-three schools, twenty-one mosques and four small clinics. One thousand six hundred and twenty-seven (1,627) farming families were expelled in 1987 and 1988 and forced to live in the Al-Sumood detention camp in New Kala’r and in the Qarateppa camp.(63)

4. Qarateppa sub-district:

This is one of the old sub-districts which lies in the south of Kifri district. Members of the Al-Juboor, Al-Leheb and Bani-Zaid Arab tribes live in the southern and western villages, while Kurdish farmers live in those of the north and east. In 1988, all the villages of this sub-district, including Gakhur, Qaraytagh, Gej, Ayn-Faris, and others were destroyed. Turkmans and Kurds lived together without problem in the sub-district seat and its suburbs. According to the 1957 census, the population was twenty seven thousand nine hundred and forty two (27,942). They all, Kurds, Turkmans, and Arabs lived peacefully together until the regime began to Arabize the sub-district according to their, by now, well-established methods, causing racial and ethnic hatred among them all.

G. Kala’r district:

This district was created after attaching the Kifri district to the Diyala Governorate in 1976. All the villages were then destroyed in 1987 and 1988. The number destroyed in this district’s seat was sixteen (16),with their sixteen (16) schools, sixteen (16) mosques, and one small clinic. One thousand one hundred and seventy-four (1,174) farming families were expelled and sent to the Al-Sumood detention camp. The following sub-districts belong to this district.

1. Pebaz( Bawa-noor) sub-district:

This is one of the old sub-districts which was part of the Kifri district but which was then attached to the newly-created Kala’r district. The sub-district seat is the town of Pebaz, on the Sirwan river on the main road between Darbandi-Khan and Kala’r. According to the 1957 census, the population was six thousand eight hundred and eighty six (6,886), all of whom were Kurds. All the fifty-two villages, which had twenty-nine (29) schools, twenty-three (23) mosques, and one small clinic in the sub-district seat were destroyed. One thousand and forty five (1,045) families were expelled and forced into the Al-Sumood detention camp in the district seat.(64)

2. Teelako sub-district:

This is a newly-created sub-district. All the one hundred and thirteen (113) villages that belonged to it were destroyed, including forty-seven (47) schools, forty-two (42) mosques and one small clinic. In 1987 and 1988 one thousand six hundred and fifty nine farming (1,659) families were expelled and moved to the Al-Sumood detention camp.(65)

Most of Kala’r district’s sub-districts and large parts of the Kifri district now fall within liberated Kurdistan. This is why the Kurdish farmers have begun gradually to return to their ruined villages to rebuild them and to resume farming despite being targets for the Iraqi artillery units stationed in the area.




The RESULT of THE arabization and destruction of the Kirkuk REGION

It can be seen from this quick review of the forced relocation, destruction, and Arabization directed at the villages of the Kirkuk Governorate’s districts and sub-districts, including some district and sub-district seats, that the number destroyed, especially during 1987 and 1988, amounted to seven hundred and seventy nine (779). Some district and sub-district seats were converted into relocation centres or detention camps and farmers who were expelled from their villages were forced to live there with no work or means of livelihood except a residential plot of land and a small sum of money to build a house. In most cases, their cattle and pack-animals were looted by those responsible for the relocation operations, i.e. senior military officers, Ba ath party officials, security service officials and high-ranking officials of the Governorate, and some Kurdish mercenary chiefs. The following table shows the destruction that took place in the districts and villages of the Kirkuk Region:


Name of the District

Villages destroyed

Schools destroyed

Mosques destroyed

Small clinics destroyed

Families expelled

Individuals expelled

Kirkuk and Dubz Districts







Kifri (except Qarateppa Sub-district)







Dooz Khurmatu 135 79 111 6 7,942 __














Total 779






Given that the total number of villages destroyed in Kurdistan by the end of 1989 was three thousand eight hundred and thirty nine (3,839), including one thousand nine hundred and fifty seven (1957) schools, two thousand four hundred and fifty seven (2,457) mosques and two hundred and seventy one (271) small clinics, and that the total number of families expelled from their villages and towns was two hundred and nineteen thousand eight hundred and twenty eight (219,828), mostly farming families, it becomes clear that the number destroyed in the Kirkuk Governorate amounts to one-fourth of the total number of villages destroyed in Kurdistan. A map of the villages and towns of Kurdistan that were destroyed or Arabized, which is appended to this study, shows the degree of destruction that the Kurdish region has suffered during the last quarter of this century, especially during 1987 and 1988, the two years during which the Anfal operations were carried out.

The various Iraqi regimes have made persistent efforts to Arabize the Kirkuk region because of its oil reserves and its vast, fertile plains. The practices followed by these regimes are no different from those pursued by other racist regimes in many parts of the world. The fact is that the current Iraqi regime resorted to the destruction of the majority of Kurdish villages and small towns in the Kirkuk Governorate, and the homes of farmers and other citizens, the places of worship, schools, and the few dispensaries and small clinics that were there, as well as burning farms and orchards and dynamiting wells, in order to wipe out any trace of them and to deny their existence were there ever to be an international inquiry into their fate. For the same purpose even the cemeteries were obliterated. It began a process to reorganize the Governorate for the purpose of making the Kurds a minority in it. So, in 1976, the regime attached the Chamchamal and Kala’r districts to the Sulaimania Governorate and attached the Kifri district to the Diyala Governorate. It the attached the Dooz-Khurmatu district to the newly-created and far-off Tikreet Governorate. Thus, no districts remained as part of the Kirkuk Governorate, (whose name was changed to the Arabic "Al-Ta’meem"), except for Haweeja, which had been Arabized since the mid-forties, and Dubz(Al-Dibiss), which had been Arabized since 1963. As for the city of Kirkuk itself, the military and security machine of Qassim’s regime began its Arabization at the end of 1959. Successive regimes continued to force thousands of Kurdish families to leave the city and large areas of the Governorate in order to bring in Arab tribes and to settle them there, providing them with work and housing. The process continues to this day as the city of Kirkuk and wide areas of the Governorate remain under he control of the Iraqi regime.

The regime has undertaken a huge project to irrigate the vast agricultural lands on the plains of Dubz, Daqooq and Dooz-Khurmatu south of the main Kirkuk-Baghdad road to the Hamreen mountains, by bringing water from the Lower Zab river. It irrigates tens of thousands of Donem (a Donem is approximately two thousand five hundred square metres) and was originally named "The Kirkuk Irrigation Project". Later, it was re-named "The Saddam Irrigation Project". No one benefits from this huge undertaking except the Arab farmers who were recently settled there. This project is separate from the Haweeja irrigation project.

The Arabization of the Kirkuk Governorate by the Iraqi regime was carried out in a two-fold process, each stage complementing the other.

In the first phase of this process, the Kurds were forced to move out of the city of Kirkuk and the rest of the Governorate and to go to other Governorates, either through administrative transfer of those who were government civil servants, and workers or through the coercion of others. We must keep in mind that the Kurd who leaves Kirkuk voluntarily or involuntarily, is not allowed to return even though he is registered in the Governorate’s "Civil Status" census registry. This is precisely what happened to those civil servants and workers who were transferred and wanted to come back to Kirkuk and live there after they were pensioned off or their services were terminated. Added to them were a large number of people expelled from their villages and towns between 1962 and 1990 along with thousands of others who were forced to flee the city because of bombing by units of the Republican Guard when it recaptured the city following the collapse of the uprising in April 1991.

As for the second phase, it was accomplished by bringing tens of thousands of Arab families from central and southern Iraq and settling them in the city of Kirkuk and nearby areas. They were provided with housing and were employed there in various installations or in the repressive government machine, such as the police department, the military, intelligence, the security service, the Ba ath Party organisation and the "Popular Army", which, together with the army, guard the city outskirts from their military observation posts and defensive positions that surround the city on all sides. The regime called them "incoming Arabs". Local people called them by other names such as "the ten-thousand-dinar people", or "the twenty-thousand-dinar people" depending on the size of government grants they had received in addition to other privileges.

The regime was unable to settle Arabs in the northern and eastern areas of the Kirkuk Governorate because of the difficulty of protecting them there, so it destroyed more than seven hundred villages in those areas. The destruction continued in large Kurdish neighbourhoods, or parts of neighbourhoods, in the city of Kirkuk. For instance, hundreds of homes in the Shorija, Almas, Blagh, Piryadi, Mussalla, and Bar-Takia neighbourhoods were destroyed on the pretext of building wide streets through them. The owners of those demolished homes were first forbidden to buy other houses or residential plots in the city of Kirkuk and then forbidden to live in the city altogether.

Any solution to the Kurdish problem in Iraq will remain incomplete and liable to explode at any time if it does not include a clear mandate for the return of all Kurds and Turkmans expelled from the city of Kirkuk and all the villages, sub-districts, and districts of the Kirkuk Governorate to their original places. Moreover, all the Arabs who have been settled in the city of Kirkuk and all parts of the Governorate since the beginning of 1963 must be returned from whence they came. What happened in Kirkuk during the March 1991 uprising which enveloped all of Kurdistan and large areas of Iraq, in that the majority of the "in-coming Arabs," or "settlers," fled the city, is a clear indication that their staying there is contingent upon the survival of the dictatorial regime. These "incomers" were able to return to Kirkuk only with the protection of the Republican Guard forces and the armed Iranian Mujahidin-Khalq mercenary group, which regained control of the city and its environs following random missile and artillery attacks.

Additionally, the administrative boundaries of the Governorate must be restored to their pre-1976 status by restoring to the Governorate all the districts and sub-districts that were stripped from it. It goes without saying that the Kurdish and Turkman villages and towns that were destroyed must be rebuilt and their residents compensated for all the losses they suffered as a result of their farms and orchards being burned down and their loved ones being killed or made homeless.

The Kirkuk region, which was and is an integral part of Kurdistan, and the city of Kirkuk which has been its important centre since the Ottoman rule, must have its natural prominence restored. All the effects of destruction must be removed from it and the effects of the racist Arabization operations ended.

With regard to the Turkmans, the hated Arabization policy that was practiced against them must stop, too. The Kurdish authority in the liberated areas of Kurdistan must recognize the national and cultural rights of the Turkmans, and make them permanent by writing them into law and by devising institutions to ensure the practice of them in a democratic fashion. In return, the Turkman political party leaders must not rely on some regional governments, especially Turkey, and turn them against the Kurds by accusing them of trying to establish a "Kurdish state" with the backing of the West. As for the claim by some of them that the Kurds "don’t have a good feeling about the Turkmans", it must be said that, not only is this claim without any foundation, but that it also does not contribute to a climate conducive to the recognition of their rights.(66) Kurds, Turkmans, and Assyrians, must all learn a lesson from the painful events they have suffered since the end of the fifties. Those tragic events have proved that the chauvinistic Iraqi regime’s aim is, ultimately, to remove them all from the region. To this end, it began by expelling the Kurds from the Kirkuk region, using certain elements of the Turkman nationalists against them. When the regime imagined it had rid itself of the Kurds, it turned against the Turkmans and made them the new victims of its racist policies.

The policy of oppression and discrimination extended even to the long-time Arab inhabitants of the region, that is, those who had been living there before the migration of the "Arab new-comers". When these newcomers had seized control of power in the army, administration, Security and Intelligence Services and the Ba’ath Party, as well as controlling most agricultural land and economic establishments, professional and trade union organisations and institutions, they began to treat the indigenous population - Kurds, Turkmans, Assyrians and long-established Arabs - with contempt. A quick look at all those establishments and institutions reveals clearly that a group of people with no ties whatsoever to the area has taken it over completely and become absolute rulers, while the legitimate inhabitants have become as foreigners and subject to oppression and disdain.

For decades, the Kurds have been faced with the charge of "separatism" because they demand their national rights as Kurds. They don’t want their homeland, Kurdistan, given to people who have no historic ties with it, as they have seen happen elsewhere. On the other hand, if the situation remains as it is now after Saddam Hussein’s regime ends, the region would be in danger of erupting at any time.

The events taking place in the world, and in the Middle East in particular, have shown that the practice of two or more peoples co-existing will end in failure unless it is based on the co-operation and mutual understanding of all parties. A union that is based on forced assimilation and the control of the minority by the majority, as practiced by the Iraqi regime, is doomed to failure. The repressive measures practiced by successive Iraqi regimes, especially since the beginning of the sixties, are illegal and in violation of the most basic international laws and principles. They are based on coercion and subjugation and stem from racial hatred.

It is incumbent upon all Iraqis concerned with preserving the Iraqi entity, to condemn the policy of Arabization carried out in the Kirkuk region since 1963 and to demand a return to the status quo.

The lack of a clear condemnation of this racist policy puts the question of trust between Arab and Kurd under a severe strain. Failure to find a solution to this problem in the manner suggested would lead to the total destruction of that trust and threaten the survival of the Iraqi entity.


  • Tawfiq Wahby, A journey from Darbandi-Bazyan to Mlay-Tasluja; Al Maarif Press, Baghdad, 1965, p. 6.
  • Qamous Al-A`ala’m (in Turkish), by Shamsudin Sami, Mihran Press, Istanbul. 1898 (1315 H). Also see: Halkawt Hakeem, "Kirkuk the City of Fire and Light," Chirika Magazine, London, No. 3, August, 1984, p. 41.
  • Encyclopedia of Islam (in French). Encyclopedia de I'Islam, Nouvelle edition, etablie avec le concours des principaux orientalistes, Tome V, Paris, G.P. Maisonneuve & Lavose; Voir Kirkuk, Par J.H. Kramers et Thomas Bois, p. 149 et suiv. See also Halkawt Hakeem, ibid.
  • Gadd Revue. d'Assyr. et d` Archeol, Orient, 1926.
  • Mohammed Amin Zaki, A concise history of the Kurds and Kurdistan; Translated by Mohammed Ali Awni, Vol. I, 2nd edition, Baghdad, 1961, p. 164.
  • Ibid., p. 166.
  • Turk Ansiklopedisi /Turkish Encyclopedia (in Turkish) Ankara, 1972, Vol. XX, p. 495-499.
  • Abdul Razzak Al Hassani, Ancient and Modern Iraq. Al-Irfan Press. Saida, 1956.
  • Turkish Encyclopedia. ibid.
  • Dr. Shaker Khesbak, Northern Iraq, Shafiq Press, Baghdad, 1973, p. 211, and Mohammed Majeed Arif, Ethnography and the civilized regions, Baghdad, 1985, p. 119.
  • Shakir Sabir Al-Zabitt, A brief history of Turkmans in Iraq, Baghdad, 1962, pg. 38-ff. Zaki Waleedi Tughan, An introduction to Turkish general history (in Turkish) Vol. 1, p. 187, Istanbul, 1946, from a study by Arshad Al-Hurmizi, Turkmans in Iraq (in Turkish and Arabic) a publication of the Turkman National Party of Iraq, Ankara, 1994, p. 22-ff.
  • Encyclopedia of Islam, ibid., p. 147.
  • Encyclopedia of Islam, ibid., p. 147.
  • Ibid., p. 147.
  • Ibid., p. 147.
  • Ibid., p. 147.
  • Arshad Al-Hurmizi, Ibid. p. 34.
  • Taha Al-Hashimi, The geography of Iraq for secondary schools, Baghdad, 1938. Mahmoud Fahmi Darwesh, The official Iraqi Encyclopedia, Baghdad, 1936. Fazil Al Ansari, The population of Iraq, Al-Adeeb press, Damascus, 1970, 24, from a study by Dr. Khalil Ismail under the title of : The geographic distribution of the Turkmans in Iraq, the International Politics Journal, No. 8, Arbeel, 1993, p. 22.
  • Some Turkman politicians claim that the Turkmans constitute no less than 10% of the overall Iraqi population, without basing such claims on any census or documentation. They further claim that their numbers are no less than two million. This figure is highly inflated. Their actual total is less than one-third of this false number, (about 165,000) as can be verified by the reliable official 1957 census. To justify these claims, they state that the Turkmans populate a line stretching from TelA’far up to the Khanaqeen and Manila districts without mentioning that their existence along this axis is limited to only certain towns and districts, in which they constitute a small percentage of the population. For example, there is neither a Turkman village or town, nor any area inhabited by Turkmans between the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, a distance of more than 160 kilometres, with the exception of a Turkman minority within the city of Arbeel which does not exceed 5% of the total population. Several thousand Turkmans also live inside the district of Altoon-Kopri(Perde’) whose population, both Kurd and Turkman, was 3,855 according to the general census of 1957. In the Kirkuk Governorate, the percentage of the Turkman population was 21.4% of the total population according to the general census of 1957. Furthermore, it is less according to subsequent censuses. The Turkman community currently living in Baghdad is estimated at tens of thousands, as is the Kurdish community, which is estimated to be more than half a million. There is also a very small minority of Assyrians. Most of these Kurds, Turkmans and Assyrians have migrated to the capital since the end of the nineteen fifties, because of the almost continuous fighting in Kurdistan since then, and for reasons of employment and economics.
  • The religious distribution of the Iraqi population, prepared by the Centre for Census and Cultural Development of the Security Service/ General Directorate (limited distribution) and based on the results of the population census of 1977. This top secret document was among the numerous documents captured by the Kurds after the success of the March 1991 uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • Ibid., schedule no. 4, p. 25.
  • Dr. Khalil Ismail, The geographic distribution of the Turkmans in Iraq, International Politics Journal, No.8, Arbeel, 1993, p.22, and A religious distribution of the Iraqi population, ibid.
  • See schedule No. sixteen dealing with classifying the population according to gender and mother tongue in the Kirkuk Governorate, among The Census Registration Records of 1957, Iraqi Republic, Ministry of Interior, The General Population Directorate. ibid., See Appendix no. 2. Compare that with their percentage according to the 1977 census, as they constituted 16.75% of the total population of the Kirkuk Governorate. See Dr. Khalil Ismail ibid., the seventh schedule, p. 29, and the confidential pamphlet, produced by the General Security Directorate according to the census results of 1977, ibid.
  • Dr. Khalil Ismail, ibid.
  • The position of the Mayor of Kirkuk, for example, was held by several members of the Talabany Kurdish family during the Ottoman and monarchic eras. Sheik Rauf Talabany was in that post during the Ottoman era; his brother Sheik Habib Talabany held the post for about fifteen years under the monarchy; and the lawyer Fazil Talabany held the post until his dismissal after the outbreak of the July 1958 revolution. See my article "Concerning Federalism," Al Manar Newspaper (in Arabic), London, No. 15, July 13, 1994. Among Turkman notables who became mayors of Kirkuk were Abdul Rahman Piryadi, in 1920, when the city came under the direct rule of the British Army, and Shamil Yaqubi at the beginning of the 1950's.
  • During the Iraq-Iran war, 1980-1988, Iraqi anti-aircraft guns downed several Iranian military aircraft over the Kirkuk region, but the Iraqi security and military failed to capture the Iranian pilots who parachuted to safety. The Iraqi government accused the Shi’a Turkmans in the area of harbouring the pilots and then driving them to safety in Iran. Young Turkman men were subjected to persecution and prison as a result, leading many of them to seek political asylum in Iran. Occasionally, some of them would accompany Iranian forces during their attacks on Iraqi positions near the border. Some of them joined the Iraqi Islamic parties and later some formed a political party by the name of the Union of Islamic Turkmans.
  • The British High Commissioner in Baghdad sent a telegram, numbered 543, dated October 10, 1923 and addressed to the Colonial Office in London stating that in his view, the border negotiations would be a great deal easier if they could give Turkey an official guarantee, in principle, that because of the changed circumstances, they had repudiated the idea of granting autonomy to the Kurds as provided by the Treaty of Sevres. They added that their aim was, to the best of their ability, to put under the Iraqi administration all the Kurdish territories located within the Mosul Wilayet, from the border, as a result of negotiations. See my article under the title of "Towards a frank Arab-Kurdish dialogue leading to a democratic solution"; "Al Hayat" newspaper, no. 11150, London, August 24, 1993.
  • Dr. Ahmad Najmadeen refers in his book, The population conditions in Iraq, Arab Studies Institute, Cairo, 1970, p. 109, to the phenomenon of high levels of migration to Kirkuk for the purpose of employment in the oil fields. The number of migrants to Kirkuk during the period 1947-1957 is estimated at 39,000. Then he adds that the population of Kirkuk from 1919 to 1968 increased five fold.
  • Ibid., Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 148.
  • Ibid.
  • See the Special schedule concerning the tribes inhabiting the Kirkuk Liwa (province) in the Iraqi Governments Official Census 1957.
  • Among the popular chants shouted by the Al-Obeid and Al-Juboor Arab tribesmen, who accompanied the Iraqi army units during their attack on Kurdish villages near Kirkuk in 1963 was: "Ihna al Arab ahlil gheera, natrud al akrad min haldira" (We are zealous Arab people; we shall expel Kurds from these lands.)
  • Hanna Batatu, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movement in Iraq, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, p. 810, Table 42-1.
  • See Appendix No. 1.
  • Hanna Batatu, Ibid.; Uriel Damm, Iraq Under Qassim, A political history, 1958-1963, Rube Shiloah Research Center, Jerusalem, 1969, p. 223.
  • General Abdul Razzak Mahmoud was the governor of Sulaimania during the regime of Abdul Salam Arif. He played a major role in the agreement reached between Abdul Salam Arif and the late Mustafa Barzani in 1964, which was the main cause for the subsequent split within the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
  • A letter from the Kirkuk Province Police Directorate, addressed to the Governorate of the province, mentioned by Hanna Batatu, ibid., p. 913, states: "Most of the Kurds have joined trade unions and youth organisations, while the Turkmans have remained under the influence of Turkman nationalist agitators.".
  • See Appendix no. 3.
  • Colonel Abdullah Abdul Rahman was hanged by the Iraqi regime, together with a number of Turkmans, in the mid 1970's. They were accused of having connections with foreign states.
  • Hanna Batatu, Ibid.
  • Among the unusual methods the Qassim regime resorted to was the referring of the accused leftists and Kurds to "Emergency Courts" composed of Arab nationalist officers who were anti-left and anti-Kurdish, and at the same time referring the Arab nationalists and Islamists to the "Special Military Higher Court", headed by Colonel Fazil Mahdawi. The accused were invariably given long prison sentences or were hanged. If any of those accused had been tried by one court and subsequently appeared before the other, he would have been found innocent of the charges brought against Had they been referred to the other court (meaning the other one of the two courts before which they appeared), the reverse would have been the case.
  • Among other researchers who have discussed the Kirkuk events is Dr. Jamal Nebaz in "Kurdistan and its Revolution" published in German and later translated into Kurdish in 1985. On page 196 he states that, after his enemies had criticized Qassim for supporting the communists, they managed to influence him in cooperation with the extremist Turkmans (Pan-Turkism) and the agents of the Iraqi Oil Company (IPC) in Kirkuk. They created the incidents and then accused the Communists of instigating them. They gave false information to Qassim who strongly condemned the Communists in his speech at the inauguration of the Mar Yousef Church on the evening of July 19, 1959. He described them as "anarchists." But Qassim later withdrew his accusations against the Communists in his interview with Al-Ayam newspaper (in Arabic), No. 59, July 1962. See also Uriel Dann, ibid., pp. 223-ff.
  • A personal friend told me that an old friend of his, a former Governor of Kirkuk, who later occupied a high diplomatic post abroad, related to him on several occasions how the policy of the Ba'ath Party towards the Kirkuk region was dictated to the Governor by the Party leaders, who demanded its thorough implementation, and considered it to be part of the state’s top level policy.
  • For details, see Chiya( Amin K. Amin), The strategic security of Iraq and the tripartite Ba'athist policy: eviction, Arabization and Ba’athization (in Kurdish). Published by the Information Department of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (P.U.K.), 1987, p. 253-256.
  • The Kirkuk field contains the most productive oil well in the world, which exceeds an average daily production of one hundred thousand barrels. It is considered to be the fifth among the oil fields of the world in terms of oil reserves. It has been in continuous production since 1927 until now, without any sign of decreasing vitality. See Dr. Mohammed Azhar Saad, The economic geography of Iraqi Petroleum, a Ph.D. dissertation at the Geography Department, College of Humanities, Cairo University, 1975, pp. 394 and 397.
  • This was made clear after the announcement of the results of the aforementioned census of 1959. When a number of Kurdish citizens inquired from the Census & Registration Department in Kirkuk, they discovered that they had been falsely registered as Turkman in the column for "mother tongue" by the census officials. This applied especially the popular Kurdish districts as most of their inhabitants could not speak or read Arabic, and the officials arbitrarily filled in the forms on their behalf. Some of the citizens lodged complaints with the appropriate authorities; others went to court to change their registration by legal means.
  • It is stated in Section 2 of The Secret Pamphlet, produced by the Centre for Census and Administrative Development at the General Security Directorate, ibid., that Arabs constitute 44.41% of the total population of the Governorate, Kurds 37.53%; Faily Kurds: 0.08%; Turkmans: 16.31%; Armenians: 0.11%; Syriacs: 3.82%; and unidentified: 0.73%. See p. 60 of the pamphlet.
  • Shorish M. Rasool, Destruction of a Nation, Statistics of Atrocities in Iraqi Kurdistan, July, 1990, pp. 34 & 36. Published by H. Zahawi and L. Rashid, U.S.A.
  • Ibid., pp. 39-41.
  • Ibid., pp. 42-43.
  • Ibid., pp. 37-38.
  • Ibid., pp. 92-94.
  • Kanan Makiya (a k a, Samir Al-Khalil) refers in his book(in Arabic), Cruelty and silence, 1993, Norton, to scenes of bombardment and poison gas attack inflicted on the villages of this district, ibid..
  • Destruction of a Nation, ibid., pp. 95-97.
  • Ibid., p. 24
  • See the General Census of 1957.
  • Destruction of a Nation, Ibid., p. 25.
  • Ibid., pp. 28-31.
  • Ibid., pp. 26-27.
  • The Iraqi historian, Abdul Razzak Al Hassani, in his book, The political history of Iraq (in Arabic) Volume III, p. 298; and Dr. Shakir Khesbak, Ibid., consider the Hamreen mountain range as the natural border of Kurdistan. This was supported by many foreign researchers, including C. C. Edmonds in his book, Kurds, Turks and Arabs (translated into Arabic by Jerjis Fatulla, 1971, Al-Times Press, Baghdad, p. 7).
  • Ibid., Destruction of a Nation, p. 9.
  • Ibid., p. 10.
  • Ibid., pp. 11 & 12.
  • Ibid., p. 133.
  • Ibid., pp. 134-135.
  • The periodical, The Iraqi File, (London), No. 30, 1944, p. 24, published the full text of the letter that the Chairman of the National Turkman Party sent to the Turkish Foreign Ministry - reproduced from the Turkish newspaper, Zaman, dated March 11, 1994. In it he states "the Kurdish state which it is planned to establish in Northern Iraq supported by the western powers, does not look favourably on the Turkmans inhabiting northern Iraq". The letter, which was also addressed to the heads of the American and Turkish delegations to the negotiations concerning extending the period for stationing the western military force at the Incherlik Turkish base, in June 1994, claimed that this force "has provided for the establishment of a Kurdish state in all but name".





  1. The 16th Special Schedule for the classification of population according to gender and mother tongue for the Kirkuk Province, in the Official General Census for 1957 in Iraq.
  2. The texts of some of the secret correspondence from the Second Division Command (of the Iraqi army) in Kirkuk at the end of 1958 and the beginning of 1959.
  3. Concerning the events in Kirkuk in 1959.
  4. Maps:


  1. The map of Iraq before the changing of its administrative boundaries by the regime.
  2. The map of the Kirkuk Governorate after truncating its administrative boundaries in 1976.
  3. The third map shows the areas destroyed or Arabized in Iraqi Kurdistan by the Iraqi regime.

5. An Appeal from the Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights in the UK.


appendix -I-

The 16th Special Schedule for the classification of population according to gender and mother tongue for the Kirkuk Province, in the Official General Census for 1957 in Iraq.


Appendix -II-

The following is the exact text of the secret correspondence from the Second Division Command (of the Iraqi army) in Kirkuk addressed to the Ministry of Defence, Baghdad, at the end of 1958 and the beginning of 1959.

The First Document

The Second Division Command


No. H. SH. 3. 914

Date: 9/9/1958

Highly confidential and personal

To: The Directorate of Military Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence.

Subject: The Memorandum from Kurdish teachers to the Ministry of Education concerning raising the standard of education, particularly in Kurdistan. Enclosed is a copy of the above memorandum for your perusal.

On page 15, under the title: B - Implementation, Article 1, the following is stated: "The designation of the Kurdish educational area so as to include the provinces of Sulaimania, Arbeel, Kirkuk, Khanaqeen and the Kurdish districts of Mosul". We would like to draw your attention to the dangers of the above designation and we offer the following observations:

  1. To agree to a boundary for the Kurdistan educational area means, in effect, recognizing the aim of the Kurdish teachers, that is, the declaration of Kurdistan as a political entity.
  2. The inclusion of the Kirkuk province (which is not Kurdish according to interpretation of the memorandum, as there is a majority of Arabs, Turks and Christians) in the Kurdish Educational area, reveals the desire to take over the oil, which is the national wealth for the Iraqi Republic which liberated this vital source for the life and the future of Iraq. Also, the claim in the memorandum to the Kurdishness of Kirkuk means the assimilation of other nationalities in the province and this is contrary to the spirit of the Iraqi Republic's constitution.
  3. It is not in the public interest to establish the Kurdistan Educational Directorate and it is not appropriate that its headquarters be in the city of Kirkuk.
  4. The post of Director of Education in Kirkuk must always be assigned to an Arab, on condition that he be neutral and will work for the public interest and that he serve education without bias towards any nationality or ethnic group.
  5. As to the remainder of the memorandum, we leave it to the Ministry of Education, because it is imposing conditions, not suggesting reforms.

I hope the relevant authorities are aware of the dangers posed by the telegraphed memorandum in the name of reform. We do not deny our Kurdish brothers their right to make demands so long as they are in the public interest, which is the guiding principle of all those faithful to this country.



Lt. General Nazim Al-Tabaqchali

Commander of the Second Division



The Second Document

The Second Division Command


No. H/ SH/ 3/17

Date: 6/1/1959

Confidential and personal

To: His Excellency the Military Governor General

Subject: The Teachers Union in Kirkuk raise the issue of making Kirkuk the centre for the Kurdistan Education Directorate.

I held a meeting with members of the Teachers Union Committee in Kirkuk. (all of whom were Turkmans who won in the Teachers Union elections within the "Nationalist List" which comprised the Arab nationalists, Ba'athists and Turkmans; Author). They reported that the Kurdish students in the city schools have begun to organise a petition to send to the Ministry of Education calling for the establishment of the Kurdistan Education Directorate, with headquarters in Kirkuk. After questioning some of those students (they belong to the Musalla secondary school), they reported that the request originated from persons in Baghdad (whose names they did not disclose) and that they were carrying out their wishes.

The members of the union made it clear that this request worries them for several reasons, the most important of which is that the Kirkuk province has a Turkman majority with Arab, Christian, Assyrian and Armenian minorities. The establishment of, or the attempt to establish the Kurdistan Education Directorate in the centre of the Kirkuk province, will create uneasiness as well as increasing concern in the position of the nationalities here toward the project. It will stir up a spirit of competitiveness and animosity among the nationalities because they will be subject to the authority of the proposed new organisation, whose purpose is to impose education in Kurdish. This will lead to measures being taken concerning the type of education which should prevail in the area. They further reported that they were doing this in the public interest, for the unity of education and for the future of the country threatened by the existence of a Directorate whose principles do not apply to a province with a non-Kurdish majority. They requested a clarification of the suggestion circulated by the Kurdish side to site the headquarters of the Kurdistan Education Directorate in Kirkuk. I promised them that I shall refer the matter to your Excellency in order to avoid the possible consequences of deciding on such a project, such as confusion and complex setbacks. I urge you to put aside the project and to appoint a neutral Arab Director to be in charge of the Kirkuk Education Directorate, in order to bring together all the nationalities of the province and the city, so that they may quietly attend to their cultural and political future, as they do at present. Teaching in Arabic is the acceptable solution in the Kirkuk province.



Lt. General Nazim Al-Tabaqchali

Commander of the Second Division

Copy to: The Military Intelligence Directorate

(The Memorandum referred to in the two letters from the Second Division Command was presented by the Kurdish and Arab teachers’ delegations from the Provinces of Arbeel, Sulaimania, Mosul, and Diyala -from the Unified Professional List which included democrats, left-wing Arabs and Kurds- to the first conference of the Teachers’ Union, which was held at the beginning of 1959 in Baghdad. This same memorandum was presented previously to officials of the Ministry of Education. It contained the demand for the inclusion of the Kirkuk province under the supervision of the Iraqi-Kurdistan Education Directorate in view of the fact that the majority of the province’s population, according to the Official Census of 1957, is Kurdish. They also mentioned in the memorandum that the Turkmans, as well as others, have the right to open special schools within the province just as the Kurds do, contrary to the claims of the Turkman teachers’ memorandum to the Second Division Command. This actually happened subsequently as many schools were opened where teaching was in Kurdish or Turkmani, in addition to Arabic". the Author)





The Third Document

Second Division Command Intelligence

No. 1/5/142

Date: 1/1/1959

To :His Excellency the Army Chief of Staff

Subject: The political situation in the Second Division's area of responsibility.

1 - Regarding the declaration of the formation of the Front for the Union of Kurdistan parties: The Democratic Party of Al -Party, the Communist Party and National Union Front. (Sic. The Second Division’s political information about the then-existing political parties seems rather superficial. It names the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP, as "the Democratic Party of Al Party and considers the National Union Front as a political party, while the latter was, in fact, a grouping of the political parties active on the Iraqi political scene at that time. The Author).

These groups have been working actively, helped by their supporters and representatives who were sent to the districts and villages, in order to restore the Iraqi-Kurdistan region within the Iraqi Republic. Certain groups in Baghdad joined in urging this front to abide by the charter they established and in which they called for the publications of these secret parties in their periodic meetings. They plan to achieve their aim by taking advantage of Article Four of the Iraqi Republic's Provisional Constitution which specified that Arabs and Kurds are partners in this country. Their intentions are as follows:

  1. To work actively to persuade the Government to recognize their national demands within the Kurdistan region which they have mapped out within the Republic. This comprises most of the territories located east of the Tigris to the Gulf of Basrah, although they agree to remain within the Iraqi entity.
  2. To declare the Iraqi Kurdistan region as such, according to the text of the Constitution so that this region, as such, becomes a basis to include Kurds from Turkey and Iran within the map they have drawn up.
  3. Both groups, extremists and moderates, believe their plan for their Republic and its future will come to fruition sooner or later as follows :
  1. The official recognition by the Iraqi Republic of the said region to be within the Iraqi unity as a first step.
  2. The establishment of the Kurdistan Education Directorate, with headquarters in the city of Kirkuk provided that education in this area be purely Kurdish and that a university be founded in Kurdistan to raise the level of Kurdish culture.
  3. The recognition of the Kurdistan Student Union while co-operating with the General Student Union of the Iraqi Republic.
  4. The formation of the Kurdistan Teachers' Union although an elected Teachers' Union already exists in each province; and in the same manner a Lawyers' Union and a Doctors' Union of Kurdistan.
  5. To work towards the industrialisation of Kurdistan and the raising of cultural and social standards within region.
  6. The formation of Kurdistan Trade Unions in all their variety, so long as they cooperate with the trade unions of the Iraqi Republic; and so long as they leave the issues of defence, finance and foreign representation to the jurisdiction of the Republic's Government in Baghdad.

These are the basic principles and plans adopted by the Kurdish Intelligentsia, and they are propagating it everywhere. The Kurdish officers are assisting by supporting it. The United Front for the Kurdistan Parties, are in agreement concerning the renaissance of Kurdistan, although they might differ as to the methods. Therefore, all these groups in the region are working according to directions from Baghdad, where the representatives of this front and the officers rally around their favourite personality of the moment, that is Mulla Mustafa Barzani, together with the Kurdistan intellectuals close to him. Instructions are issued overtly and covertly for the implementation of their political plans.(1)

(Nos 3 and 4 are omitted as they do not relate to Kirkuk).



Lt. General Nazim Al-Tabaqchali

Commander of the Second Division

Enclosure: One List

Copy to : The Military Intelligence Directorate.


  1. This front was never in existence. There was a committee for national cooperation between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Communist Party during the period prior to the July 1958 revolution. It continued for a short period afterward due to the refusal of the two Arab nationalist parties : Istiqlal and Ba'ath - to allow the entry of the KDP as a member of the National United Front which included all the Iraqi parties opposed to the monarchy", The Author










Concerning the Kirkuk events of July 1959:



As the first anniversary of the 1959 revolution approached, an executive committee was formed in the Kirkuk Governorate (as in other Governorates) to supervise the organising of the celebrations. It was composed of representatives from the military command and all official and popular establishments, headed by the Deputy Governor. A decision was taken to organise a public procession through the principal streets of the city (Hanna Batatu, op.cit. p.915), on the afternoon of July 14, 1959, in which everyone would participate. On the appointed afternoon, the march proceeded in the direction specified by the organizing committee. Most of the participants were Kurds, including Communists and supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Most of them were members of the professional organizations and trade unions. As the head of the march reached the entrance to Atlas (Al-Jumhuriah) Street, the location of shops and cafes belonging to the Turkmans, the tail end was just leaving its starting point which was a considerable distance from Atlas Street.


According to an official report from the Police Directorate of the Governorate, (Hanna Batatu, op. cit.), a large number of Turkmans in military vehicles confronted the head of the march at the beginning of Atlas Street. Police intervened and prevented a serious incident by separating the two sides. The march continued along its agreed route. Dr. Hanna Batatu questions the significance of the presence of Turkmans in military vehicles in some of the streets of the city on that particular day, (Hanna Batatu, ibid., p 95). When the march reached the July 14 cafe (a gathering place for extremist Turkman youths), located almost at the end of Atlas Street, several shots were suddenly fired from the direction of the cafe at the crowd marching in front of it, thus causing confusion and panic among them, and fighting soon broke out between some of the marchers and a crowd of Turkmans standing in front of the cafe. Sticks and stones were used; then shots were fired by some of the soldiers and members of the "Muqawama Al Shabiyah" (Popular Resistance) who had accompanied the march from the outset.


The official report from the Governorate’s Police Directorate put the number of Turkmans killed at 20 and injured at 130. An estimated 70 shops and commercial establishments were looted ,(Hanna Batatu, ibid., p. 915.).

In contrast, another report (No.6694, dated July 20, 1959) from the Kirkuk Amn (Security) Directorate to the Security Directorate General, estimated the casualties as 32 killed and 130 injured (Hanna Batatu, p.919 ibid.). Some Arab and Turkish media put the number killed in the hundreds and the injured in thousands.

It appears that undisciplined and provocateur elements contributed to the spread of the agitation, especially after rumors circulated in the Kurdish sections of the city that the Turkmans had opened fire on the marchers and killed a number of them. This news quickly spread and some people raided the Imam Qassim police station, located in the Kurdish section, and captured the weapons inside, (Hanna Batatu, p. 917 ibid.). It is worth noting that many of those committing murder, dragging corpses into the streets and doing the looting, were connected to the Ba'athist organised Party which served, and is still serving, the Iraqi regime.


It must be mentioned, in this connection, that the high-ranking officials of the Intelligence and Security machinery in the Second Division's Command and the Governorate played different roles during the events, each according to their own political thinking. While the Director of Police, an Arab who had no specific political leanings, was concerned for the people's lives and properties and did his utmost to control the widespread chaos in the city, the (Amn) Security Service Director, who was an Arab nationalist, deliberately fanned the flames of the agitation. The Kurdish officers played a prominent role in controlling the worsening security conditions and in preventing law-breaking and disobedience. They also prevented Kurdish peasants from the villages near Kirkuk from entering the city in the early morning of July 15, 1959, an act which prevented extremely serious consequences.

If those responsible for professional and popular organisations in the city can be accused of not controlling their members and failing to prevent attacks on lives and property then equally, the Turkman leaders should be held responsible for encouraging groups of the more extreme elements of their youth to parade through the streets of the city, carrying provocative banners, on the night of July 13 and in the morning of July 14th. Probably the Turkman leaders did not expect such a violent reaction from the other side or they might not have behaved in this way. It seems that, as a result of expressions of approval and support which they had constantly heard from the officials of the Governorate and the leadership of the Second Division of the army during meetings in the days prior to the sad events, that they were confident that the authorities would side with them should any dispute arise. It was noticeable that during the military ceremonies led by the Commander of the Second Division on the morning of July 14, 1959, several Turkman and Kurdish notables who had recently been released from prison, stood side by side with the Commander and other officials and guests on the reviewing platform. Moreover, the Deputy Division Commander, the Deputy Governor and the heads of Security Departments were Arab nationalists known to be antagonistic towards the Communist Party and the Kurdistan Democratic Party and their control of the city streets.


Apparently, the Turkman leaders who were incarcerated in Baghdad prisons had contact with certain nationalist elements, such as Ba'athists and others, and as a result, they got together and co-ordinate their efforts to bring down General Qassim. Also, it soon became clear that the regime in Baghdad was continuing to pursue its policy of divide and rule, with the intention of weakening all groups. At first, it offered to the supporters of the Communist Party the opportunity to dominate all organisations, including the "Popular Resistance" para-military organisation. Then suddenly it began to squeeze them, and opened the door to the Turkmans, encouraging their return to the scene during the era of Nazim Al Tabaqchali. Opposing this trend was the prevailing wave of extremism within the ranks of the Communist Party which created the atmosphere of enmity and lead to the brutal and tragic events.


All these factors contributed to the events of July 1959. It is difficult to pinpoint the main factor in the process because they were all inter-connected and complemented each other: from the extremism of the two sides, to the incitement by the Government and the Arab nationalist and Ba'athist forces in alliance with the Turkmans, to the external factor Kirkuk’s being the administration centre of the British Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC) whose "public relations" department was involved. The close connection of some Turkman dignitaries, such as the lawyer, Siddiq Naqqash, the retired Colonel Younis Omar, the merchant Mohammed Salihi, and others in the IPC's "public relations" department was later disclosed, in 1962, by Salah Terzi, a Turkman activist, who later admitted responsibility for the killing of many Kurds in 1960 and 1961.

The painful events caused division between Kurds and Turkmans in the city of Kirkuk whose repercussions are still felt. It is truly regrettable that the officials of the Second Division and the Security Service played an obvious role in fanning the fires of agitation and widening the rift between the various fictions. This was clearly revealed after the overthrow of the regime of General Qassim, since most of them were connected with the leaders of the 1963 coup d'etat and played an active part in it, assuming prominent positions following its success.





The administrative map of Iraq before it was altered by the Regime


The administrative boundaries of the Kirkuk Governorate after the Iraqi regime detached four districts from it in 1976.

Source: Statistics of Atrocities in Iraqi Kurdistan.



The Arabized and destroyed areas in Iraqi Kurdistan, including the Kirkuk Governorate.




Appendix VII

Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights - UK

Patron: Lord Avebury

PO Box 479

Sutton, Surrey SM2 6WP, UK

Fax: 0171-582.8894




25 March, 1998

The Iraqi regime continues in its campaign of expelling Kurdish families from the Kurdish cities of Kirkuk, Khanekheen, Jalawla and Tuz-Khurmatu, which are all under the control of the regime. We have detailed lists of 1468 Kurdish families to be expelled from their homes in Kirkuk. Since November 1997, hundred of these families have been forcibly moved to the Kurdish controlled regions. The international aid Organisations have been assisting them there.

The process of expulsion is implemented by arresting the head of the family, so as to prevent family members from escaping. The Iraqi intelligence Service then confiscate all of their assets, including property and all forms of identification.

In addition, the Iraqi regime practices a policy of discrimination against those who live in Kirkuk by cutting water supplies, and a range of services including waste collection and road cleaning; this results in increased disease. Even inside the hospitals, a policy is followed which is biased against the Kurds. A Kurd is the last patient to receive treatment, even if he is seriously ill.

Furthermore, the regime settles Arab families brought from central and southern Iraq in the homes of expelled Kurdish families. This policy of ethnic cleansing really began in 1963, when the Bath’ist regime expelled the Kurds from 33 villages around Kirkuk, and thousands more from the city itself. When the Bath’ists came to power by another coup d’etat in 1968, this policy was implemented in a systematic way which resulted in the destruction of 732 villages during the following twenty years. All the Kurds employed in the Civil Service and public sector jobs were also sent to the south of Iraq and their positions were given to Arabs.

We appeal to the Members of the Security Council and all Organisations and personalities concerned with human rights to condemn this policy which violates the most basic human rights and is in contradiction of the Security Council Resolution No 688 of 1991. We also request that all the expelled Kurdish families from Kirkuk city and other Kurdish areas be returned to their homes, under the safety of UN control.

The Author

  1. Born in the city of Kirkuk.
  2. Completed elementary education, intermediate and secondary school in Kirkuk.
  3. Received the Bachelor of Science degree in Law from the University of Baghdad.
  4. Received his Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Law from the Sorbonne.
  5. Has taught at a number of Iraqi universities, including the university of Baghdad (College of Law) from 1968 until he was retired in 1982 for political reasons.
  6. Is the author of numerous publications and research studies on jurisprudence in Kurdish, Arabic and French.
  7. Is the author of the first dictionary of legal terms in Kurdish/Arabic/French/English.
  8. Proposed the draft Constitution for the Iraqi-Kurdistan Region.
  9. At present, he is the Chairman of the Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights in Great Britain.