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 Kirkuk is Kurdistani red line

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Kirkuk is Kurdistani red line  25.6.2012  

Hemin Hawramy, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) foreign relations  Photo: Aknews   See Related Links

Photo: Aknews
June 25, 2012

BRUSSELS, — Speaking at a conference in the Belgium Senate, Head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) foreign relations Hemin Hawramy underlined that Kirkuk is not only regional issue for Kurds in Iraq, but it is important question for all Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan and Kurdistani people.

He said: “Kirkuk is important because of its historical and geographical connection to the Kurdish soil, not because of its oil resources. As our President Massoud Barzani always underlines, we in the Kurdistan Region will not accept any alternatives to the implementation of article 140.”

The Kurdistan Region’s position on the Kirkuk issue expressed by Hemin Hawramy and the definition of Kirkuk as a Kurdistani red line was supported by different Kurdish political parties and leaders from all parts of Kurdistan. Kurdistani political parties strongly condemned Iraqi PM Maliki’s current policy and the involvement of neighboring countries such as Iran, Syria and Turkey in the Kirkuk issue.

The Kirkuk and article 140 conference was organized by Belgian Senator Karl Vanlouwe ( N-VA) and the Kurdish Institute of Brussels. Vanlouwe expressed his hope that Belgium, the Flemish parliament and his party N-VA will contribute to the solution of the Kurdish issues and the implementation of article 140.

Kurdish political leaders and representatives from different parts of Kurdistan and the diaspora took part in the conference. Among the guests from federal Kurdistan were Mir Tahsin Beg, head of all Yezidis, a KDP delegation headed by Hawramy, Netherlands’ representative Omer Zawitey, Saleh Bawami from KDP’s external relations, Yezidi representative Hayri Elias Bozani and Zana Hauramani from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan-Brussels office.

The conference was also attended by the President of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) Tahir Kemalizade, the chairman of KONGRA-GEL Remzi Kartal, the President of the PJAK Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmadi, KCK executive council member Zübeyir Aydar, Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) representative in Brussels Hatice Coban and former Kurdish parliamentarian Ali Yigit.

All the Kurdish political figures expressed their solidarity with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s position on Kirkuk and hoped for a peaceful solution of this problem, which the Kurdish leaders said was “wrongly called a problem of the disputed areas by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Kirkuk is a Kurdistani red line and all Kurdistani people are behind that. We will not let neighboring countries influence the decisions in our lands”.

The participants in the conference discussed the historical background and the current situation in Kirkuk and the role of Erbil, Baghdad and neighboring countries in the solution of the disputed issue.

Hawramy stressed the importance of Kirkuk not only as regional issue for Kurds in Iraq, but as a question, which concerns all Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan: “Kirkuk is important because of its historical and geographical connection to the Kurdish soil, not because of its oil resources.”

Hawramy gave a short historical background of Kirkuk and explained the current importance of article 140 for Kurdistan Region: “For us article 140 is the only way to reverse the state-led ethnic cleansing during the Saddam regime.

“Since the foundation of Iraq after the First World War, Kurds have suffered the lack of democracy, lack of citizenship, lack of justice and partnership for Kurds. The ethnic cleansing was proceeded by forced demographic changes, Arabization process, forbidding of Kurdish names and schools, expulsion and deportation.

“Parts of this policy were also the destruction of 2500 Kurdish villages, the use of chemical weapons, the genocide against Barzanis, the Anfal campaign.”

Hawramy said that after 2003 and the fall of Saddam’s regime: “We aim at a new Iraq, based on the constitution, democracy and peace and where Kurds are partners. The Kurdish position has to be defined and decided by constitutional rights. In a peaceful, civil and non-violent process we should take back by legal means what was taken from us by force.”

Hawramy explained that according article 140, there should be three stages: normalization (return of expulsed population, compensations and restored land ownership), population census, and a referendum for the statute of Kirkuk.

Unfortunately, he said, there are still persisting problems in stage one of the normalization process: “The committee for the implementation of article 140 has not enough budget to finish the compensation process. They need $2bn and the Iraqi government doesn’t give them the necessary funds.

“There is a lack of political will in Baghdad to implement article 140. The census is refused, as well as the referendum, because Baghdad knows that in a democratic choice the people of Kirkuk will join Kurdistan. The Iraqi government is afraid that if Kirkuk becomes officially part of Kurdistan, it will not be an Iraqi city anymore. But this is not true, because the whole of Kurdistan is part of Iraq.”

Regarding foreign involvement in Kirkuk, Hawramy said: “There is a lot of foreign intervention and influence against the implementation of article 140 to make sure that the Kurds will not be strong enough and to keep them in the corner. But we think that Kirkuk is an Iraqi issue and it should have an Iraqi solution.”

Hawramy concluded: “As our President Massoud Barzani always underlined, we in the Kurdistan Region will not accept any alternatives to the implementation of article 140. The idea of Iraq as a homogenous state must be abandoned by those who want peace and democracy. If we want reconciliation in Iraq, we should first assure justice for the victims of the former regime. Article 140 should give to Kirkuk its real place as an Iraqi city with Kurdistani identity.”

Professor Dirk Rochtus from Lessius University College, Antwerp, Belgium, analyzed the role of Turkey in the Kurdistan Region: “Turkey has a special interest in the Kurdistan part of Iraq, controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), because of historical, strategic, economic and cultural ties.

“Some forces in Turkey may be more inclined and others more distrustful towards the KRG in the political field. It does not make a big difference as to what appears to be the ultimate goal of Turkey, namely ‘the Iraqi Kurdish Region’s “full economic integration” into Turkey’, as the International Crisis Group is quoting Turkish diplomats [ICG, 19 April 2012]. It seems that Turkey does not stick to territorial integrity of Iraq at any price, surely now that the relations between Ankara and Baghdad have become tense.”

Rochtus underlined the advantages of economic cooperation between Turkey and the KRG both sides: “To Erbil in this sense that its own energy policy and own economic policy will help the KRG on the way to more autonomy; to Ankara in this sense that it could become an energy hub in the Middle East.”

By Roni Alasor and Lorin Sarkisyan

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