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[casi] [Fwd: [ARTICLE] Harvest in Middle of Kurdish - Arab Dispute]

-------- Ursprüngliche Nachricht --------
Betreff: [ARTICLE] Harvest in Middle of Kurdish - Arab Dispute
Datum: Sun, 18 May 2003 00:22:52 +0200
Von: KRGinGermany <>

Office Berlin: Bitte von meinem privaten account an casi
Danke. Alexander


There is the intention [keeping things going according to the law] and
the reality [impatience of the victims victimizing others]. A.


May 17, 2003
The New York Times
Harvest in Middle of Kurdish - Arab Dispute
Filed at 2:40 p.m. ET

MAKHMUR, Iraq (AP) -- It's harvest time in the rolling, golden hills of
northern Iraq. And this year's expected bumper crop is aggravating a
bitter dispute over who owns it -- Kurdish landowners expelled by Saddam
Hussein, or the Arab farmers who replaced them.

Fields have been scorched, and farmers are reaping with assault rifles
slung over their shoulders. The U.S. Army has brokered a profit-sharing
agreement between the two sides, but even U.S. officers admit it is
difficult to enforce and, in some cases, ignored.

"It's a complete mess,'' said Maj. Blain Reeves, an infantry officer
with the Army's 101st Airborne Division. He spends much of his time in
an office in a grain silo complex, mediating disputes.

The fields outside Makhmur are awash with barley to the horizon.
Combines troll the land, slicing crops in half, then ejecting black
barley kernels through a chute into a nearby dump truck. Bedouin
shepherds follow the combine with their flocks, which eat the barley
stalks left behind.

The dispute over the barley fields is one of the most explosive in
northern Iraq, a zone of tension between Kurds and Arabs since the
earliest days of Saddam's regime. Kurds estimate several hundred
thousand of their brethren were expelled as part of Saddam's drive to
break a Kurdish revolt. Arabs were shipped in to take their places.

With Saddam driven from power, Kurds are beginning to return home. Now,
the Arabs are fleeing.

Saddam's campaign focused on areas like Kirkuk, a key oil-producing city
in the north, and villages like Makhmur, 50 miles to the southwest in
the heart of Iraq's breadbasket.

Jamil Arab Qadir, a Kurdish farmer, says Iraqi officials told him in
1995 that if he didn't give up his 87-acre barley farm in Makhmur to an
Arab, his family would be trucked hundreds of miles south to an
overwhelmingly Arab part of the country.

The 57-year-old farmer returned Tuesday with his wife and 13 children to

"I feel like I have been reborn,'' he said, walking through a field of
dry stalks that crunched beneath his feet. He says he will not let the
Arab farmers who planted the barley -- and fled during the fighting --

"They were supported by Saddam Hussein. But since Saddam Hussein no
longer exists, they can't stay,'' he said. "We won't let them.''

U.S. officials worry about Arab-Kurdish clashes in the area. A week ago,
they brokered an agreement between regional officials that would force
both sides to split the harvest's profits. A separate agreement was
reached Thursday for Kirkuk.

Both sides accepted it under U.S. pressure -- grudgingly.

"The Kurds have lost for so many years,'' said Khasro Goran, the deputy
mayor of Mosul, who helped negotiate the deal. "Why can't an Arab lose
for one year? "

As three Arab clan leaders wearing white robes with gold-trimmed black
cloaks waited to discuss land complaints with Goran, he explained why he
approved the agreement.

"What can we do, kill each other?'' he asked. "The Americans wanted
this. The Americans just don't want anyone to get mad.''

Sheik Abdelaziz, the head of a leading Arab tribe in the area, was
equally pessimistic. "Frankly, we didn't have any other choice,'' he said.

The agreement is so sensitive that Abdelaziz would only speak if his
full name and the name of his tribe were not printed.

Under the U.S.-sponsored deal, Arabs and Kurds must split all profits
from the grain sales, though the exact percentage depends on where the
grain was harvested. The agreement can be enforced only if Arabs are
there to claim their share.

Arabs made up two-thirds of Makhmur under Saddam, but many fled as the
regime collapsed and Kurdish militiamen began moving south. Now that
101st Airborne troops control the area and guard the enormous grain silo
that looms over the town, some Arabs are beginning to return.

"The Arabs see us here and they're saying 'Hey, the U.S. is here. Let's
go back,''' Reeves said. "So the Arabs come back and they want a piece
of the harvest.''

That can be difficult, as Hamid Ali now knows. The 35-year-old farmer
was at Reeves' office at the grain silo Wednesday, trying to get his share.

Ali said he returned last week to the farm where he once worked and
found Kurds tilling the fields.

"We went to the land and told them about the agreement,'' he told
Reeves. "They told us that we'd been using their land for the past 12
years and that we had no more rights.''

Like some Arab farmers in the area, Ali is a sharecropper. He farmed
land Saddam gave to other Arabs who have since rented out the property
and moved to nearby cities.

Without ownership documents, Ali has little chance of recouping the time
and money he invested in the crop. The dispute over nature's bounty
continues, and the Americans stand in the middle, trying to figure out
the complicated ethnic politics of Saddam's Iraq.

"I definitely feel for the farmers. They're the guys who did the work,''
Reeves said. "If these guys have any proof, I'll fight for them.''

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