ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The sacked governor of Kirkuk has accused the Iraqi Prime Minister of not keeping his promises, and claimed that he was still the legitimate governor of the disputed province.
Najmaldin Karim, ousted governor of Kirkuk and member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) Political Bureau, in an interview with Kurdistan 24 on Thursday, discussed the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, particularly Kirkuk, since the Oct. 16 events.
“Until the [Kirkuk] provincial council elects a new governor and removes me from the post, I am the legitimate governor,” Karim argued, stating that all other measures taken in that regard were unconstitutional.
He revealed that Baghdad always had the intention to launch an assault on the Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, adding that the Oct. 16 offensive was not in response to the referendum but a convenient excuse.
Karim said that Kirkuk was now under occupation and that even if the governorship were given back to the Kurds, it would not change that reality.
He revealed that Arab families [brought to the area by the Saddam Hussein regime during his Arabization campaigns], who had left the disputed province after 2003, were having their return facilitated by Iraqi authorities.
“The Deputy Governor, Rakan Saeed, who was appointed to the position by Baghdad, is implementing an Arabization policy in Kirkuk while the Iraqi Prime Minister remains silent about it,” Karim warned.
“We will go back to Kirkuk… but without repeating past mistakes,” Karim said. “The situation in Kirkuk cannot continue.”
Abadi has never been supportive to the idea of the Kurdistan Region receiving its seventeen percent share of the national budget, Karim added, stating that when the Iraqi Prime Minister was head of the parliamentary finance committee, he was the first to claim Kurds deserve less than thirteen percent of the budget.
The draft federal budget bill for the year 2018, approved by the Iraqi Council of Ministers and submitted to the parliament for final endorsement, reduced the Kurdistan Region’s share to twelve percent.
Karim, who alleges to have been in direct contact with the Iraqi Prime Minister from 2014 to mid-2017 more than anyone else in Kurdistan, told Kurdistan 24 that Abadi “promises but never delivers.”
Editing by Nadia Riva