ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Sunday welcomed a recent International Crisis Group (ICG) report that called on Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, and mediators to intensify efforts to resolve a longstanding national dispute.
In its report, the ICG said: “The new administrations in Baghdad and Erbil and the appointment of a new special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq provide an opening to move boldly on one of Iraq’s most enduring and divisive issues: the status of disputed territories and the determination of the Kurdish region’s borders.”
“The KRG welcomes any efforts and recommendations in resolving the situation of the disputed areas,” KRG’s Coordinator for International Advocacy, Dindar Zebari, said in a statement.
ICG’s 29-page report, Reviving UN Mediation on Iraq’s Disputed Internal Boundaries, pushed for the UN to “revive its stillborn mediation effort of a decade ago” between Baghdad and Erbil “to bring the two sides to the table and settle the issues dividing them.”
“In particular, it should work to reach a permanent deal on the disputed territories.”
In 2018, several officials in Baghdad claimed that Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which provides a legal mechanism to resolve the outcome of the disputed territories, is outdated.
Erbil sees “the civilians in those areas a decisive party to resolve these issues and they have the right to decide on the future of their areas,” Zebari stated.
Article 140 sets out a three-stage normalization process, part of which is the return of various groups of people to their areas of origin, including those forcefully transferred in the systematic Arabization campaign carried out by the former government of Iraq in cities like Kirkuk.
The next step would be a local referendum to determine whether a majority of the populations in specific areas want to be under the authority of Iraq’s federal government or the KRG, a step the Kurdistan Region would argue has already been fulfilled by its September 2017 independence referendum.
The deadline for Article 140 to be implemented was December 2007, but due to political differences between Erbil and Baghdad, it has yet to come to fruition.
Zebari added that locals are requesting “joint…administration of the areas to avoid any hostilities and discrimination among the population.”
He highlighted that coordination “did exist between Erbil and Baghdad from 2003 to 2017 to jointly administer the disputed areas,” and pointed to the role the Kurdish Peshmerga and security played in protecting and liberating said regions from the so-called Islamic State.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany