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 Massoud Barzani: Article 140 must be enacted if Kurdistan is to stay part of Iraq 

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Massoud Barzani: Article 140 must be enacted if Kurdistan is to stay part of Iraq  5.6.2011  





June 5, 2011

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, has warned on Saturday from possibility of what he described as “explosion” at any moment, in the event of non-implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, pointing out to the existence of the concept of participation in power, according to an interview he gave to the Middle East newspaper.

 Barzani said on Saturday that Kurds will not be interested in separation from Iraq as long as their rights, as laid out in the Iraqi constitution, are provided for.

“The implementation of Article 140 has been delayed for a long time, and its implementation must be achieved, if everybody wants to see a stable Iraq, and if the historic fraternal relationship to continue among the Arabs, the Kurds and the Turkomen, and for the benefit of building a natural relationship between the (Kurdistan) Region and Baghdad,” Barzani stressed, “warning that non-settlement of the said problem means that the situation would face ‘explosion’ at any moment.”

“The issue of Kirkuk, being a Kurdistan issue, is settled historically and geographically, but we accepted Article 140, pending                    

The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani
the settlement of this issue according to the Iraqi Constitution,” Barzani said, adding that “this does not mean that Kirkuk shall become a Kurdish city, but we shall make it a symbol for national, religious and sectarian coexistence, to become a city for all Iraqis, though there is no possibility for compromise about Kirkuk, being a Kurdistan city.”

The Arab Political Council in northern Iraq’s oil-rich city of Kirkuk, had announced last Thursday its rejection of any calls for the “division” of Iraq, especially according to Article 140, that it considered as “having been ended according to the Constitution.”

The Council had issued its statement in the background of a statement by Kurdistan Parliament’s Speaker, Kamal Kirkuki, who told Aswat al-Iraq news agency as having warned that non-implementation of Article 140, “would push the citizens of the city and the people of Kurdistan in the areas of conflict,
www.ekurd.netto wage sit-in demonstrations, the same way as it happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, to force the other side to carry out a popular referendum to decide the future of the Province, or to decide it by themselves, without leaning to violence.”

“Kurdistan Region, as a whole, is part of Iraq and so is Kirkuk that shall remain to be an Iraqi city, but with a Kurdistan identity, the same as Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniyah,” Barzani said, adding that “if Article 140 died, this means that the Constitution has died, and if the Constitution has died, it means that the unity of Iraq has died.”

Article 140 is one of the most outstanding suspended issues between the Baghdad Federal government and the Kurdistan Region’s government, impacts of which had created a broad dialogue over the past few years.

Answering a question whether the Kurds wished to isolate from Iraq, Barzani told the newspaper that “all platforms for a (Kurdish) State are available,” but he said: “so long as Iraq continues to commit itself by the current Constitution, we shall do nothing for splitting and establishing an independent state, because commitment to the Constitution serves the interest of Iraq, as well as the interest of Kurdistan Region, especially under the current circumstances.”

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. 
 

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