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 Kirkuk question goes unanswered - province refuses to join "Salahaddin Region"

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Kirkuk question goes unanswered - province refuses to join "Salahaddin Region"  19.11.2011  

November 19, 2011

KIRKUK, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region, — Kirkuk will not be annexed to the "Salahaddin region". This declaration came after the Salahaddin Provincial Council proposed incorporating the troubled province.

The Sunni-dominated Salahaddin province (170 km north of Baghdad) proclaimed itself an autonomous region in response to the arrests of staff members of Tikrit's university and of a number of citizens.

This is the latest in long line of claims and counter claims for jurisdiction of oil-rich, multi-ethnic and insecure Kirkuk.

There are three scenarios to resolve the Kirkuk question.  The first is supported by Erbil and demands annexing the province to Kurdistan Region.         

Kirkuk: A vendor sells socks at a market in central Kirkuk,  November 5, 2011. Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional attachment to Kirkuk, which they call "the Kurdish Jerusalem." Kurds see it as the rightful and perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state.Photo: Reuters
The second is Baghdad's favourite and suggests granting broad powers to the province but keeping it under central control. The third satisfies the Turkmen and proposes turning the province to a region of its own.

A Turkmen member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council Tahsin Kahiyya told AKnews that the proposal is useless and will not be accepted by the Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs.

Turkmen support the formation of a "Kirkuk Region" that will organize the relationship between its main components according to the principle of national consensus in its administration.

The Turkmen propose the establishment of a "Council of Representatives" for Kirkuk that includes with 100 members, 32 seats each for the Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs, and four seats for the Caldo-Assyrians.

The Turkmen project says a Council of Ministers of the "Kirkuk Region" will be the executive and senior managing committee in the region and perform the functions of the executive branch under the supervision of "the governing body". The Prime Minister would be Kurdish with a Turkmen and Arab deputy.

The member of the Arab Political Council Abdul Rahman Munshid Assi said: "We are against the idea of forming regions, so how will we allow the annexation of Kirkuk to another region. The idea of regions is a project brought by the American occupation to divide the country."

Member of Kirkuk Provincial Council Mohammed Kamal said earlier that "Kirkuk is one of the provinces that were taken from Kurdistan and must be resolved through Article 140 of the constitution."

"Kirkuk and other withheld areas have special status and such a demand cannot be implemented. The stages of the implementation of Article 140 is normalization of property and population, compiling a census and a referendum about the fate of the province. We can decide then to become a region or join another."

Article 140 states on that the problem of Kirkuk should be resolved with a plebiscite, but Kurdish officials say the first step towards this referendum is being stalled by Baghdad.

The UN mission in Iraq demanded - in a report published two years ago about the disputed areas - keeping Kirkuk united, despite the tensions.

Kurds are calling for some of the U.S. forces to remain in Kirkuk in anticipation of violence after the planned withdrawal at the end of this year.

The representative of Iraqiya list from Kirkuk province Mazen Abdul Jabbar told AKnews that the problem is not about making Kirkuk a special region or joining it to Kurdistan Region. He said it is about staying within the central, federal government and a solution should be found by all parties instead of imposing the solution of one party on the other.

The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the most disputed areas by the regional government and the Iraqi government in Baghdad.

The Kurds are seeking to integrate the province into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region clamming it to be historically a Kurdish city, it lies just south border of the Kurdistan autonomous region, the population is a mix of majority Kurds and minority of Arabs, Christians and Turkmen, lies 250 km northeast of Baghdad.
Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional attachment to Kirkuk, which they call "the Kurdish Jerusalem." Kurds see it as the rightful and perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state.

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas through having back its Kurdish inhabitants and repatriating the Arabs relocated in the city during the former regime’s time to their original provinces in central and southern Iraq.

The article also calls for conducting a census to be followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having it as an independent province.

The former regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had forced over 250,000 Kurdish residents to give up their homes to Arabs in the 1970s, to "Arabize" the city and the region's oil industry.

The last ethnic-breakdown census in Iraq was conducted in 1957, well before Saddam began his program to move Arabs to Kirkuk. That count showed 178,000 Kurds, 48,000 Turkomen, 43,000 Arabs and 10,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christians living in the city. 

Copyright © 2011, respective author or news agency, | | Agencies


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