Power Station Attack First Sign that Iraqi Kurdish Protestors are Ready to use Violence?
Just after protests about power cuts, somebody fired rockets at a Chamchamal power station. Is this the first sign of violence, after months of protests against the local government?
Although Iraqi Kurdistan’s power needs are met by the natural gas reserves in the area of Chamchamal, the people actually living in the area don’t see a lot of the benefits of their natural resources. Which is why a group of locals decided to protest this situation on January 2.
Then that evening unidentified individuals launched rocket propelled grenades at the gas-fuelled power plant that provides Iraqi Kurdistan with around half of all of its energy needs. The plant was not damaged.
Strangely, after the attack on the power plant, the energy being supplied to locals in Chamchamal increased. Households there had been getting about two hours of power after midnight. Now they were getting an uninterrupted supply between 10pm and 8am. Many locals said that there was a connection between their new electricity schedule and the rocket attacks.
On local social media, people started making jokes about the incident. “Fire a rocket and get 24 hours of free power,” read one witty comment. “This offer is valid until the government wakes up again.”
Some locals suggested that a local hero of sorts, Abdullah Kwekha Mubarak, was behind the rocket attack. Mubarak lived in Norway for almost a decade and returned to Iraqi Kurdistan in 2008; he more or less founded the Chamchamal branch of the Change movement, an opposition party that has campaigned on an anti-corruption platform in the past. In the recent past he has taken what may best be described as staunch positions.
Early in 2016 Mubarak threatened to cut a gas pipeline in Chamchamal if the area didn’t get a better power supply. On January 29, the gas pipeline going from the Khor Mor gas field to Erbil was bombed leading to a disruption in work at other power plants that rely on natural gas.