Kurdistan flag dispute stirs Iraqi
By ekurd.net staff writers
October 17, 2011
Diyala, — Hundreds rallied in the disputed Iraqi
town of Khanaqin on Sunday to demand the reversal of
a Iraq central government ruling barring the Kurdish
flag of the autonomous Kurdistan region in official
The town, which has
follow the directive, lies within territory claimed
by both the central government and authorities in
the autonomous Kurdish capital of Erbil.
US officials persistently cite unresolved
territorial rows between the two authorities as one
of the biggest threats to Iraq's long-term
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in Khanaqin, 150
kilometres northeast of Baghdad and near the Iranian
border, to local government buildings a kilometre
away, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
They carried Kurdistani flags of the Kurdish region,
demanding that government buildings in Khanaqin be
allowed to hoist both it and the national flag of
Iraq. They also called for an apology from Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The protesters shouted "Long live Kurdistan!" and "Khanaqin
is Kurdish!" during their rally.
"We are Kurds and the flag is our symbol. On what
Hundreds of demonstrators with Kurdistan flags
marched in Khanaqin.
Hundreds of demonstrators with Kurdistan flags
marched in Khanaqin. Photo: PUK
do they want to lower the Kurdistan flag,"
said Rawand Raghib, 23, a Kurd participating in the
The demonstration came a day after Kamal Kirkuki,
speaker of the Kurdish regional parliament, told
reporters at a news conference that "violating the
sanctity of Kurdistan's flag is unacceptable."
Khanaqin mayor Mohammed al-Mullah Hamed said the
town received the ruling on Tuesday.
Kurdish authorities want to incorporate Khanaqin and
a swathe of territory running from Iraq's border
with Iran to its frontier with Syria into their
three-province autonomous region, a claim fiercely
opposed by Baghdad.
The administration of Khanqin District in Iraqi
disputed Diyala province warned, on Wednesday, from
the outbreak of “a major
popular revolution” if the central
government lowers Kurdistan Flag raised at the top
of governmental buildings in the District. We
refused this demand,www.ekurd.net the
administration pointed up while calling not to
provoke the public opinion.
Tensions remain over the zone.
They rose markedly in late February when, amid
nationwide protests, Kurdish peshmerga fighters
shifted southwest towards Kirkuk, the oil-rich
ethnically-mixed city at the centre of the dispute,
in what they said was a move to protect it.
The peshmerga eventually pulled back in late March.
Kurdistan’s Peshmerga Ministry had spread its forces
of Diyala Province last August, after the escalation of the
Kurdish demands on both popular and official levels
to protect Kurds in those areas, considered among
the areas in-conflict between Kurdistan government
and the Federal government of Baghdad.
Diyala province, a
restive part of Iraq outside the Kurdish autonomous
region of Kurdistan but home to many Kurds. The Diyala district, which includes a string of villages and
some of Iraq's oil reserves, is home to about 175,000 Kurds, most of them
In June 2006, the local council of Khanaqin proposed that the district be
integrated into the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
During the Arabisation policy of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, a large number of
Kurdish Shiites were displaced by force from Khanaqin. They started returning
after the fall of Saddam in 2003.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the
situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas like Khanaqin.
Kurdistan's government says oil-rich Khanaqin should be part of its
semi-autonomous region, which it hopes to expand in a referendum in the future.
In the meantime, Khanaqin and other so-called disputed areas remain targets of
Sunni Arab insurgents opposed to Kurdish expansion and vowing to hold onto land
seized during ex-dictator Saddam Hussein's efforts to "Arabize" the region.
Since 1991, the Kurds of Iraq achieved self-rule in
part of the country. Today's teenagers are the first
generation to grow up under Kurdish rule. In the new
Iraqi Constitution, it is referred to as Kurdistan
region. Kurdistan region has all the trappings of an
independent state -- its own constitution, its own
parliament, its own flag, its own army, its own
border, its own border patrol, its own national
anthem, its own education system, its own
International airports, even its own stamp inked
into the passports of visitors.
Sources: AFP | Reuters | aswataliraq.info | Agencies
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