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 Last chance to restore Kirkuk

  Opinion — Analysis    
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


Last chance to restore Kirkuk  10.3.2011  
By Raber Y. Aziz -

March 10, 2011

The Kurdish leadership and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have no assurances that the article 140 of the Iraqi constitution – which they believe is the guarantee for the restoration of Kirkuk to Kurdistan - will be implemented. After the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq constitution was redrafted and approved by the parliament. Article 140 was supposed to be implemented by the end of 2007 whereby the squatting Arabs would have to go back to their original places in central and southern Iraq and Kurdish and Turkmen families expelled from the province during the Saddam-era would return to Kirkuk – the first phase of the article, Normalization. But four years after the deadline, the article has not been implemented and the Arabs say it is dead and even go further to demand the annulment of the article.

The current situation in Iraq in general, caused by demonstrations and protests, and Kirkuk in particular, prepared the ground for the (KRG) to send Peshmarga forces to Kirkuk and other disputed areas to protect the Kurdish and other minorities’ families from insurgent attacks. I believe this is the last chance for the KRG and Kurdish leadership to incorporate Kirkuk into the Kurdistan Region or else they will have to say farewell to Kirkuk forever.              

Raber Younes Aziz is the Managing Editor of Kurdistan News Agency - AKnews.
Because, if the KRG pull back those forces and leave the Kurds in for the insurgents and the chauvinist Arabs of the area, many Kurdish families who have already had too much of threats and intimidation, on the one hand, and the indifference of the KRG to protect them on the other, will lose hope and leave those areas for the other Kurdish populated areas closer to the Kurdish cities of Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk to save their lives. We have seen and heard from the media how Kurdish families from Jalawla and Sa’diya towns have fled their home after being attacked and threatened by militant Arabs.

Kurds of Jalawla and Sa’diya left their towns because of the threats of the Arab insurgents and inability, if not indifference, of the Iraqi army and police to protect them, while those of Kirkuk leave the city because of the indifference of the KRG toward the Kirkuk issue after they returned to the city in 2003 to reclaim their properties confiscated during the former Baath regime.

The Arabs of Kirkuk know this very well, and it is for this very reason that they call for the withdrawal of those Peshmarga forces. The presence of the Peshmarga in those areas give new hope to the Kurdish families of those areas and their resolve to remain in their areas is renewed. However, the withdrawal of Peshmarga will deal a blow on the Kurds who will lose heart because the KRG deserted them for a second time after they withdrew from those areas to hand over responsibility to the joint forces.

Essentially, the intention of the Arabs in postponing the population census so many times to be followed by a referendum to decide the fate of Kirkuk, or in a wider context their opposition to the implementation of Article 140 is to make the Kurds lose patience and strength and leave the province in hopelessness. These intentions came to full view when a member of the Arab council in Kirkuk said the Kurds have to go back to “their own cities and leave Kirkuk”! This, not only indicates that the Arabs do not intend to yield to the implementation of Article 140 to go back to their original places, but they are not even content with the current situation and want the Kurds to leave the city to go back to “their own cities”. He went further to say Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk are the “north of Iraq” – instead of Kurdistan - and for all Iraqis. The problem here is not that Kurdistan is for all Iraqis, this is true. But the problem is the designation of Kurdistan “north of Iraq” because this term was only used by the Baath regime and this a flat rejection of the federal system of Iraq. The northern Kurdish region has been established in the Iraqi constitution as “Kurdistan” and as a federal region.

The Kurdistan Region, therefore, must seriously work for the incorporation of Kirkuk to Kurdistan and bind the withdrawal of the Peshmarga forces with the implementation of the article 140. The Peshmarga forces can by no means be pulled back from hoe areas. The excuse of the presence of those forces in Kirkuk and the disputed areas has to be the implementation of the article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, not protecting the Kurds and other minorities because this is contingent upon the security situation. Once the security situation improves, the credibility of this justification will come under question.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish leadership needs to engage in serious talks with the Turkmen of Kirkuk and try to understand each other to converge their views. They, too, were subjected to oppression during the reign of Saddam and their properties were confiscated or were expelled from the oil-rich city. The Kurds have to give assurances to the Turkmen that their existence alongside the Kurds and later as part of the Kurdistan region all their cultural and political rights will reserved. It has to be explained for them that upon the incorporation of Kirkuk into Kurdistan,
www.ekurd.netthe Turkmen will become the second largest ethnic groups and second influential group in Kurdistan, while they are not even the third influential group in Iraq. They have to be assured that they will have a real involvement in the political process and governing Kurdistan.

This, of course, does not mean that the original Arabs of Kirkuk be ignored. The Arabs, like the Kurds and Turkmen lived in Kirkuk before the Arabization campaign begin. But dialogue with the Arabs of Kirkuk has to be narrowed to the originals of the area not those who claim to represent the Arabs of Kirkuk and who have nothing to offer instead of hatred on the media channels. They have to go back to the areas from where Saddam brought them. I am certain that after the implementation of article 140, the original Arabs of Kirkuk, will live peacefully with the Kurds and Turkmen of the city just like they did in the past.

Raber Younes Aziz is the Managing Editor of Kurdistan News Agency (AKnews). You may visit Aziz's blog at:

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  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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