Monday, August 18, 2014

Anti-Arab Sentiment in Kurdistan

Cathrin Schaer reports on rising anti-Arab sentiment in Iraqi Kurdistan:
These are just a sample of the kinds of comments that Iraqi Kurdish social media users have been posting online. Others added even more vitriol, reporting that relatives serving in the Iraqi military, who were fighting the Islamic State group, said they were shot at by ordinary Arabs in contested areas. They also said that the ordinary Arabs in contested areas were providing the extremists with intelligence.
The online anger against Arabs that started as random messages on social media has also evolved into online campaigning in some cases, with one group starting a Facebook page “for the expulsion of Arabs from Iraqi Kurdistan”. A group of Facebook campaigners also began to organise a demonstration against Arabs in Iraqi Kurdistan, even though Iraqi Kurdish authorities forbade it.
Two weekends ago, the UK-based website Middle East Eye reported on an impromptu demonstration held in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil. The mostly young men involved apparently set up checkpoints on the street to police anyone driving by, that they suspected was Arab. The protestors also tried to vandalise property they thought belonged to Arabs. Iraqi Kurdish security forces broke the protest up.
From the article as a whole, it sounds like a lot of this relates to ISIS's coasting on Sunni Arab grievances against the Maliki government in Baghdad. Many Sunni Arabs either work directly with ISIS, seeing it as the lesser evil, or are openly hostile to the Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi army operating in their region even if they are neutral on or hostile to the ISIS against which that army is campaigning.  Where Kurds and Shi'ites see ISIS as the primary issue, an evil against which all must unite, the nuances of Sunni Arab views and experiences easily become lost.

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