Iraqi forces head for Kirkuk to strengthen
November 20, 2012
KIRKUK, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region,—
A force from the 9th division of the Iraqi army in
Baghdad crossed Hamrin Mountains heading for Kirkuk
to strengthen their military deployment as part of
the security tension between Baghdad and Erbil, a
military source said on Tuesday.
"Top military officers ordered the armored force
from the 9th division of the army in Baghdad to head
for Kirkuk," the source told Aswat al-Iraq news
agency, denying to give further details about the
nature of their mission.
Tensions have been building between the autonomous
Kurdish region and the central government in Baghdad
since the departure of US forces from Iraq in
December, which removed a buffer between the two
Relations have been strained further by the
formation of a new command center for Iraqi forces
to operate in an area over which both Baghdad and
the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) claim
Military movements from
Baghdad and Tikrit to Tuz area
Iraqi military forces stationed in Tikrit province
moved to Toz area, while another armored force moved
from Baghdad to the same area, to enhance security
according to military sources. The source told Aswat
al-Iraq today that Tuz area witnessed security
tensions during the last few days.
Attempts were made yesterday to pacify the situation
to prevent development to greater conflict in the
disputed areas between Baghdad and Erbil.
Tuz Khurmatu, on Friday
Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraqi Tigris (Dijla)
Operations Command TOC troops,
during which Two people were killed and 10 others
The clashes erupted in Tuz Khurmatu district in
Salahuddin province when Iraqi soldiers attempted to
search a house belonging to a Kurdish official Goran
Najam, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK,
officials said. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is
the current leader of the PUK, Reuters reported.
The president of Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani,
said earlier that the formation of the Tigris
Operations Command is an important reason for the
instability and does not serve the application of
Article 140 of the Constitution,www.ekurd.net
adding that Tigris operations command was founded in
the intentions and goals against the Kurds and
coexistence in the disputed areas.
While Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stressed
that "the movement of the Iraqi army must be free on
every inch of the land of Iraq, and provinces or
territory have no right to object", describing the
movement of the Peshmerga in the disputed areas as
"legal and a constitutional violation."
Maliki said that the formation of the Tigris
Operations Command "is not aimed at a component or a
province or national but it is administrative and
regulatory action within the constitutional powers."
Barzani ordered its Peshmerga security forces on
alert, a statement issued on Saturday
said, attributing the move to clashes with central
government forces. An Iraqi general however said
that the clashes in question came during an arrest
attempt and did not involve the Peshmerga.
Also Massoud Barzani said Saturday the region was
fully prepared to
after a skirmish between Iraqi forces and Kurdish
troops along their disputed internal border.
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
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
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