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 Turkman leader says Kirkuk dispute cannot be resolved without Turkman-Kurd agreement

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Turkman leader says Kirkuk dispute cannot be resolved without Turkman-Kurd agreement  12.5.2012  








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 region. 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. Photo: UKS
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May 12, 2012

KIRKUK, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region, — The key players who can resolve the territorial dispute over the oil rich Kirkuk province are Turkmans and Kurds, a Turkman party leader said.

Kirkuk issue is not the problem between the Baghdad and Kurdistan Region governments, rather it is a dispute between Kurds and Turkmans, said Asam Adel, the general secretary of National Turkman Party.

The tenure of Kirkuk which rests on 40% of Iraqi oil reserves has been disputed between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region governments for a long time.

Kurds who claim a Kurdish identity for Kirkuk city (center of the province) were irritated when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said during his visit to Kirkuk this week that Kirkuk is an Iraqi city.

There are also Turkmans in the province who claim aboriginality. Most of them support the idea of declaring Kirkuk an autonomous region within Iraqi federal state. Arabs endeavor for keeping Kirkuk within the borders of Baghdad administration by giving the province more authorities. However, Kurds refuse both options. They demand Kirkuk be annexed to Kurdistan.

Adel said if Kurds and Turkmans agreed over strategic issues and were able to build mutual trust "70% of the crisis[over Kirkuk] is over."

Kurds have laid all their hope in the enforcement of the constitutional article 140 which specifies the stages for indicating the owner of the province.

First the displaced people should be returned to their homeland and compensated, then a population census should be conducted to indicate the density of each ethnic group, and finally a public referendum will determine whether Kirkuk should be run by Baghdad or Erbil.

The article had to be completely enforced by end of 2007. However, the first stage of it is still not completed.

Adel said the issue of Kirkuk cannot be resolved by Kurds and Arabs alone. "The closest solution is bound to the agreement between Turkmans and Kurds."

National Turkish Party was founded by Iraqi Turkmans in diaspora in 1988.

The dispute over Kirkuk, to the northeast of Baghdad, as negatively affected on security situation. The province is subject to frequent armed attacks, robberies, abductions and bombings.

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,
www.ekurd.net 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. 

AK news part of the report by
Abdul-Qader Wandawi

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