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 U.N. Secretary General says Sending Peshmarga to Kirkuk was a Mistake

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U.N. Secretary General says Sending Peshmarga to Kirkuk was a Mistake  6.4.2011  

April 6, 2011

NEW YORK, — U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that the deployment of Kurdish Peshmarga forces in Kirkuk was a mistake.

Presenting a report at the U.N. Security Council Ban Ki-moon said that his organization is concerned about the situation in Kirkuk and the deployment of five thousand Peshmargas in the past two months.

The secretary general called for a review of the distribution of forces between the Peshmarga, Iraqi army and the Americans in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala and Nineveh. Ban Ki-moon said, “The situation in the disputed territories is still uneasy and on the night of February 25th around five thousand Peshmargas had been sent to Kirkuk.”

Diyala province, a restive part of Iraq outside the Kurdish autonomous region of Kurdistan but home to many Kurds. The Diyala district,
www.ekurd.netwhich includes a string of villages and some of Iraq's oil reserves, is home to about 175,000 Kurds, most of them Kurdish Shiites.                    

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon March 31, 2011. Photo: Reuters
The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani said at the end of his tour of Europe last month that it was his order to dispatch the Peshmarga to Kikruk to protect the civilians of that area from extremist attacks.

 But in his report, the U.N. secretary general said that the Peshmarga had been sent without their knowledge and that the Kurdistan Regional Government had only found excuses to send those forces to tackle the threats in the area. “This act,” said Ban Ki-moon, “is a violation of the agreement reached by the security team that was formed in Baghdad to maintain the security of those areas.”

In his report, the secretary general stated that Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and leaders of Turkmen and Arab parties have asked for the withdrawal of the Peshmarga forces from Kirkuk and to that end negotiations are ongoing.

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. 

Mosul, capital city of Ninewa province in Iraq, near the border with Kurdistan region, lies 405 km north of Baghdad. The Kurdish Yazidis are primarily ethnic Kurds located near Mosul. Some 350,000 Yazidi Kurds live in villages around Mosul near Kurdistan autonomous region border.

Compiled by from agency reports

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