ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Kurdish Parties in Kirkuk Province held a meeting on Wednesday, creating a joint committee in response to threats from Hashd al-Shaabi (People’s Mobilization) approaching the city.
Wurya Mohammad, the organizer of the Election Chamber for the Gorran Party in Kirkuk says, “Hashd al-Shaabi’s closing in on Kirkuk is illegal, and their presence is unnecessary."
The Council Presidency Spokesperson of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Kirkuk, Adnan Kirkuki told K24,”The arrival of Hashd al-Shaabi to Kirkuk at this particular time is based on a political plan, not a security or military decision."
Kirkuki added that there is no need for Hashd al-Shaabi to come to regions already under Peshmerga control. Even if extra forces come to Kirkuk, Peshmerga should be the force and decision-makers.
"Past examination of Hashd al-Shaabi has shown that whenever they go to a region with residents from different sectarian or religious backgrounds, they discriminate against them and destroy the stability [there],” Kirkuki emphasized.
Hashd al-Shaabi forces are now 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city of Kirkuk. Though the forces were present near the city previously, recently they have brought heavy weapons as well.
Regarding Hashd al-Shaabi's recent decision, Kirkuki said, “They came near Kirkuk under the pretext of taking part in liberating a Shia-Turkmen village called Bashir, and also to liberate Hawija District."
However, he mentioned that on Monday, Feb. 1, Arab residents of Hawija demanded that Peshmerga forces take control of their district. Peshmerga have retaken a majority of regions in Kirkuk from IS insurgents and protect people regardless of their religion or ethnicity.
Hashd al-Shaabi is an exclusively Shia militia formed by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior in June 2014 to fight IS insurgents.
Reporting by Gulala Khaled
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Soran Kamaran contributed to this report from Kirkuk)