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Thursday, 29 January 2009

In Mosul, campaign slogan spells 'Kurds out'

In streets of Iraq's second city, among its 1.9 million people, ‘Kurdish question’ is on everyone's lips.

MOSUL, Iraq - Athil al-Nujeifi, a leading candidate in the largely Sunni Arab province of Nineveh, has the simplest of campaign slogans for Saturday's Iraqi provincial elections: reverse the Kurdish takeover.

"The Kurds kept up tension to serve their own interests. And I want to end it," asserts the leader of the Hadba list which unites 15 parties and has the backing of the main tribes in the region.

Nearly six years after the US invasion, Nineveh and its capital Mosul is the continuing symbol of the instability.

The persistence of violence is closely related to the Kurdish question, or at least that it is the view of Arab candidates aiming to succeed Duraid Kashmula, the outgoing governor who is widely seen as a puppet of the Kurds.

"In 2003, the Americans entered Mosul followed by the Kurds and these only had one aim -- to maintain instability," said 51 year-old Nujeifi, who owns the biggest stud-farm in Iraq with 400 thoroughbred Arabian horses.

"What with Al-Qaeda, the insurgents and the Kurds, one never quite knows who is responsible" for the near daily attacks in Mosul.

In the streets of Iraq's second city, among its 1.9 million people, the "Kurdish question" is on everyone's lips. "I have no confidence in the pershmerga (Kurdish fighters)," said an Iraqi student who asked not to be named.

The Kurdish fighters "are not from around here. They behave badly. They should be replaced by Iraqi soldiers," he said. More

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