Controversy over leadership of Al-Obaid Arab tribe

Kirkuk, 2019: A number of Arab tribes demonstrate against the rumors of an agreement between the PUK and KDP to take back the governor's post from the Arabs. Karwan Salihi

By KirkukNow

Following the death of Al-Obaid tribe leader in Kirkuk, his nephews have disagreed about his displacement. Some of them has appointed a brother of them while the rest insist to wait till the death ceremony is over and unanimously nominate a new leader.

Sheikh Dhia Nuri Al-Aasi, a prominent figure of Al-Obaid tribe in Kirkuk province, denied that a new leader has been appointed for Al-Obaid tribe, saying that "what these people have done has no basis and do not represent the tribe.”

“The chief of the Obed tribe will be elected at a ceremony and announced at a press conference,” he added.

Sheikh Dhia, nephew of Anwar Al-Aasi, the former chief of Al-Obaid tribe, told Kirkuk Now on Friday, September 23, "Those only represent themselves, not Al-Obaid as Al-Obaidis are not satisfied with this.”

The statement came after a statement signed by three prominent figures of Al-Obaid tribe in Kirkuk on Friday, referring to the appointment of Sheikh Qais Mizhir Al-Aasi, as the "chief of Al-Obaidi tribe" in Iraq and Arab countries.

The three brothers, Burhan, Ghassan and Qais Mizhir Al-Aasi, are also nephews of former tribal chief Anwar Al-Aasi. They signed the statement under the name of "Emirate of Al-Obaid Tribe" and stamped it with the seal of Qais Al-Aasi, alleging that Qais is now the chief of Al-Obaid tribe.

Al-Obaidi is one of the Arab tribes in Iraq, settled around Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia. It hails from the tribe of Zubaid, in Najid of Saudi Arabia. The tribe was founded by Obaid son of Sultan Jabr bin Maktoum Al Zubaidi, after they deserted Saudi Arabi to Iraq in 1750.

They settled in Iraq-Syria-Turkey triangle and due to their expansion, they faced rivalry from neighbor Arab tribes such as Al-Shammar. Al-Obaidi's became the ruling Sheikhs of that region and to this day carry the right to use the title of Sheikh. 

Sheikh Qais Mizhir Al-Aasi

From the time of the monarchy to the present day, the Al-Obaidis have been seen influencing the politics of Iraq. Most recently the Al-Obaidi family has taken a strong and leading role in controlling the defense ministry in Iraq as many of the most experienced generals of the Iraqi army come from this family.

Jibour, Obaid, Hadidi, Hamdani, Tamim, Mafraj and Shammar are among popular tribes in Kirkuk. They are divided between two blocs: The Arab United Front led by Al-Obaid and the Arab Council led by current acting governor Rakan Al-Jibouri.

Sheikh Dhia Al-Aasi, "What they have done is called Facebook sheikhs. Otherwise, the appointment of a new leader in this way is far from the law and customs of the tribe. They did this as a small family and no one is supporting them.”

Al-Asi believes the action is politically motivated.

Former chief of the Obed tribe (Sheikh Anwar Aasi) passed away on September 13, 2022 in Kirkuk.

"It will be done by gender and the men of Obaid all will decide," Nuri said.

However, in the statement by the three brothers whom appointed Qais Mizhir Al-Aasi "appointed as the tribal chief", there is no reference for the details how and per what procedures they performed the appointment which they said they will not regret.

KirkukNow tried several times to get the opinion of the three brothers who elected the new president in the statement, but they did not respond.

The statement of Sheikh Qais Mizhir Al-Aasi’s appointment as chief of Al-Obaid tribe on September 23rd provoked protests.


Who is eligible for chief of Al-Obaid tribe?

Sheikh Dhia elaborated to KirkukNow the type of personality elected as the chief of the Obaid tribe, "should be charitable for all, wise, knowledgeable, decision-maker and everyone will decide together and appoint him, not in in a random way by few people.”

"The directions and opinions of the Obaidis go to Sheikh Wasfi, who was appointed close to Sheikh Anwar because he has a strong personality, but Sheikh Wasfi refused to discuss the issue until the mourning and offering condolences for the late president is over.”

Sheikh Wasfi Al-Aasi is currently a member of parliament representing Kirkuk province, uncle of Sheikh Dhia.

"After the funeral, we will certainly gather to appoint a new president ... officially and ceremonially and a press conference will be held openly and glorious public opinion will be informed."

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