PUK and KDP haven't solved their disputes
in oil-rich Kirkuk: Governor
May 8, 2012
KIRKUK, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region,
ó Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk, sat down
with Rudaw.net to discuss the specific challenges
facing the region and how the government has changed
with the involvement of the Turcoman community. A
senior leader of the PUK, Karim also discusses the
balance of power and rights of Kurds in a city known
for its multiculturalism, security issues and when
the province can expect the next election.
Q: Compared to
several years ago, Kirkuk is seeing more development
projects. Is this the work of the joint
Kurdish-Turcoman administration or your own as
Many projects are underway in the cities and towns
of Kirkuk province. In the past, the process of
implementing service projects was slow. From my
first day as governor, I emphasized that all
government branches had to work together to
implement the projects.
We are serious about following up development
projects. We provide food and transportation for the
project engineers and supervisors to avoid wasting
time and corruption. Before I took office, most of
Kirkukís budget used to be returned to the central
government because of disputes. For the first time,
we have been able to invest the full amount of the
budget on implementing service projects.
The most important point for us is to follow up on
projects and make sure they are done well. We hold
everyone involved in the projects accountable,
including contractors, engineers and the heads of
Q: Have you
conducted any investigations into the previous
Absolutely, we have evaluated their work. We will
change the members of previous committees who
supervised the contractors and find capable people
to replace them. We will not put people in charge
based on favoritism. We will try to eliminate these
problems. We asked everyone to inform us of these
kinds of problems when they notice them so that we
can take disciplinary actions.
Q: What have you
done regarding the previous administrationís
We have reevaluated those companies that were given
projects by the previous administration. We have
withdrawn projects from some companies and
eliminated some others. We have also sent people to
the transparency committee for investigation and to
the courts to be tried.
Q: What were the
advantages of the Turcoman community joining the
Kurds in running the city?
I believe it was a necessary step because the
Turcoman are one major ethnic group in Kirkuk. They
suffered under dictatorship. Their ethnicity was
even denied by previous regimes.
Q: Some Turcoman
are not happy with your administration. They believe
they are ignored by your administration. Is this
We have to differentiate between those who seek
trouble and ordinary people. Our goal in offering
development projects is to serve the Turcoman
people. We canít make everyone happy. It is their
right to criticize; even the Kurds criticize.
Q: The Kurdish
population in is larger than any other group in
Kirkuk, but there are fewer Kurdish employees
compared to Arabs. Why?
This is the outcome of the central governmentís
policy. Only the central government can employ
people in Kirkuk's government offices. The Kirkuk
provincial council made a mistake when they decided
on a 32 percent employment share for each ethnic
group in Kirkuk. The Kurdish population in Kirkuk is
54 percent, which means around 22 percent of Kurds
are denied their employment rights. We have to
change this policy. We have worked at resolving this
We believe the Kurds must have a larger share of the
employment in Kirkuk. In addition, Kurds were denied
this right in the past. We at the Kirkuk governorate
have been trying not to follow this policy and have
asked the provincial council not to implement this
policy. I personally will not implement this policy.
Q: The Kurds
control both provincial council and the governorís
office. Who agreed to this policy in the first
The law was passed in the previous parliamentary
round. The president vetoed it. Despite that, this
policy has been implemented here.
Q: Who is
responsible for this mistake?
The brotherhood bloc has 26 of the 41 seats in the
Kirkuk provincial council. It is their
responsibility to correct this.
provincial election has been long delayed. Will this
election happen soon?
Having an election will reduce the Kurdish seats in
the provincial council, but it is very important for
several reasons. First of all, the current
provincial council was established in 2005 and there
havenít been any changes. It is not healthy for
people to remain in a position for such a long time
because they can lose peopleís trust.
Second, the 2005 election was based on blocs, so
people voted for the blocs instead of individuals.
Third, the Arabs didnít participate in the 2005
election so they believe they donít have enough
representatives in provincial council as they
should. There are currently efforts in Iraqi
Parliament and we have met with political parties
regarding holding an election in Kirkuk.
Q: Is there any
timeline for the election?
If everyone reaches an agreement, it would be ideal
to hold an election at the same time as Iraqís
provincial elections at the beginning of next year.
However, the Arabs want the election to be held
alongside the provincial election in the Kurdistan
Region in September. I really donít think there will
be enough time to hold an election by September.
Q: Will you run
for the governorís office again?
It depends on whether the political parties want me
to run again. I must have a say in choosing
candidates on the list. There must be professional
candidates for the list, and if that is the case,
then I will decide. But the main decision is of the
Q: Has the PUK
asked you to run again?
We have not discussed this yet.
Q: The security
situation in Kirkuk is bad. Recently, we have seen
many explosions and robberies there. Despite that,
we still donít see any changes in security protocols
in Kirkuk. Why?
Terrorists are always targeting Kirkuk because of
its diversity. We must remember that the former
regime had a strong foundation in Kirkuk and they
still exist. In addition, Al-Qaeda terrorists are
coming to Kirkuk from other cities in Iraq.
The other issue is that security forces were
deployed in Kirkuk based on political agreements so
they are not professional in their jobs. They also
donít have proper training. Lack of equipment and a
security system with surveillance cameras is another
issue. We donít have a system to gather
intelligence. We have asked the provincial council
to provide a budget for this.
Q: What can you
tell us about the prison break in Tafsirat?
So far, 20 prison guards have been detained for
interrogation. An investigation committee came from
Bagdad to investigate the situation, but we have not
yet received the results of their investigation.
Q: You visited
Prime Minister Nuri Maliki at the peak of tensions
between Maliki and Barzani. What was the purpose of
We discussed the tensions, but our visit was
specifically about Kirkuk.
between the governor and provincial council have
been bad in the past. How is your relation with the
The tensions between the governor and the provincial
council were high in the past to the point that they
didnít even want to see each other. This wasnít in
the best interest of the people of Kirkuk. As a
result, the service projects were very slow and the
designated budget was always returned to Bagdad. We
currently are working on correcting the previous
Q: The Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic
Party (KDP) have not yet solved their political
disputes in Kirkuk. As a result, there are two
administrations, two security forces and two
departments of education in Kirkuk. As a senior
leader in the PUK and Kirkuk governor, what have you
done in this regard?
It is a good question. The disputes exist. There are
people who cause trouble between the political
parties for their own gain. The partiesí leadership
must not allow these people in Kirkuk. They
shouldnít allow individuals to use political
disputes for their own interests. We have discussed
this issue. It is important to reorganize the
security forces. We face criticism from other
political structures regarding lack of cooperation
between us. The intelligence information we receive
canít be useful due to lack of cooperation.
there are disputes between the political parties,
especially the PUK and KDP. You mentioned education.
Kurdish education here has not progressed. We have
discussed this issue with our friends in Erbil and
we will soon meet with the minister of education to
discuss this issue.
Q: What about
having two different security forces?
We have also discussed this issue. Both sides have
promised to solve this issue not just in Kirkuk but
throughout Kurdistan. The security forces must
belong to the government and be directly supervised
by the government. If we do not deal with this issue
then forces would continue to be run by political
parties and they canít be trusted by people.
Q: Has the fact
that there are two security forces caused you
Problems have emerged as a result of the two
security forces. Sometimes, someone is arrested, but
later released without a proper investigation. We
have police and administration. We can legally
investigate suspects and later send them to the
court. It is embarrassing for us when people refer
to illegal activities committed by a certain partyís
security. This is not good for the security
situation. The security forces sacrificed a lot and
they are important to Kirkuk but they must be
By Adnan Hussein
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