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 Peshmerga return to Kirkuk would be ‘unconstitutional’: Turkmen leader

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PostSubject: Peshmerga return to Kirkuk would be ‘unconstitutional’: Turkmen leader   Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:13 pm


Peshmerga defending Kirkuk from ISIS advance. File photo: Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Peshmerga forces are only supposed to defend the Kurdistan Region and their return to Kirkuk would be “unconstitutional”, a Turkmen leader in the disputed province said Sunday. 

“The reason for our refusal to allow a Peshmerga return to the province of Kirkuk is because Article 121 stipulates that the Peshmerga are the guards of the Region,” Hassan Turan, deputy head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Kirkuk, told Rudaw.

Peshmerga “shouldn’t have a presence outside the borders of the Kurdistan Region,” he added.

The Turkmen leader proposed the formation of a local, multiethnic force made up of Kirkuk’s “sons”.

When ISIS forces swept across Iraq in 2014, threatening to swallow Kirkuk, Iraqi government forces withdrew. The city was successfully defended by the Peshmerga, which remained.

Kurdish forces defended the city until October 16, 2017, when the Iraqi army, backed by neighboring states and Shiite militias, took over the city and many other disputed areas claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil. The Peshmerga was forced to withdraw. 

Turan did however praise the Peshmerga’s role in defending Kirkuk and its residents without discrimination. 

The Turkmen leader called for dialogue between the major groups of the city to help normalize the security and political situation, which has deteriorated since October.

“We proposed dialogue multiple times, but unfortunately, the Kurdish leadership was the one rejecting dialogue prior to October 16,” Turan said.

Any agreement over the fate of Kirkuk without the involvement of Turkmen would be a “failure”, he said.

He called for “serious dialogue” between the components of Kirkuk for “sustainable solutions, joint administration, and consensus-based solutions” to guarantee everyone’s rights.

The Turkmen leader also criticized Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, arguing it fails to offer a “peaceful sustainable resolution for the Kirkuk province,” he said.

Kirkuk is part of the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Its fate is to be determined by Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. It included a number of measures, including reversing the process of Arabization, to be followed by a referendum that will ask its population to choose between joining the Kurdistan Region or staying with Iraq.

The constitutional article was never implemented by the Iraqi government.

The Turkmen Front has consistently opposed a population census in Kirkuk, said Turan, alleging the Kurds had implemented a policy of “demographic change” since 2003.

Saddam Hussein evicted Kurds from Kirkuk and gave their lands to Arab settlers under the regime’s Arabization policy.

When the Baathist regime collapsed, the expelled Kurds began to return home and the imported Arabs were compensated to return to their original places in central and southern Iraq.

“We as the Turkmen see Kirkuk as a separate region as the solution and for it to be administered on the basis of 32 percent for all components in the Kirkuk province,” said Ali Mufti, another Turkmen leader.

The 32 percent formula was first introduced by the late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, head of the province’s ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). It did not call for an independent region, but rather a power sharing initiative to administer the local government.

08.26.2018

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