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 Coalition forces set deadline for Kurdish peshmarga forces withdrawal from Kirkuk

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Coalition forces set deadline for Kurdish peshmarga forces withdrawal from Kirkuk  15.3.2011  

March 15, 2011

KIRKUK, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region, — The coalition forces have set a two-week deadline for Peshmarga (Kurdish armed forces) withdrawal from Kirkuk province. The respite was declared Sunday, a source said.

The informed source, a Kurdish political party official, who refused to be named, told AK news the coalition forces have ordered the peshmarga to return to Kurdistan, where they originally came from, in two weeks.

Peshmarga was expedited to the multiethnic oil rich province after Feb.25 riots in the province, apparently to protect the residents. In that day, in line with the rest of the provinces in the central and southern Iraqi provinces, residents in Kirkuk poured into the streets in protest to the shortcomings of the current government.                   
The displays led to violations, serving the demonstrators to acquire the administration of some areas.

The positioning of peshmarga was not welcomed by all the ingredients of Kirkuk, many deemed the riots have served the Kurdish forces “occupy the province”. Kurdish government demands the tenure of the multiethnic province along some other disputed areas. It claims the disputed areas were “first Kurdish but altered through Arabization.”

The source attributed the reason for the withdrawal order to the pressures on the coalition forces from some Arab and Turkmans in the province who in the first place opposed the deployment of peshmarga in the province.

Still the militant insurgent organizations such as Ansar al Islam as well as the ex-Baathists impose threats on the province residents, the source said,
www.ekurd.netreferring to the Friday car bomb blast in Rahimawa local market as evidence.

The explosion left behind 41 causalities and caused huge material damages.

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,
www.ekurd.netChristians 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. 

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