ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Over 12,000 Arab families who occupied Kurdish-held territories before 2003 are now returning to the disputed province of Kirkuk once again, a Kurdish official said on Saturday.
Adnan Kirkuki, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) leadership council in Kirkuk, said the Arab population which is set to return to Kirkuk were involved in previous Arabization campaigns by the former Iraqi Ba’ath regime.
According to Kirkuki, the Arab families “were given compensation in the form of lands and financial means under Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution to return to their governorates and homes” after 2003.
“However, following the events of October 2017, they are gradually returning to Kirkuk in an attempt to occupy Kurdish lands once again,” he told local media.
In Kirkuk, many Kurdish communities have been forced to leave their homes, especially in recent months, because others have made claims to their land using the same deeds they were given during previous Arabization campaigns enacted during the reign of Saddam Hussein.
Kirkuk is one of the multiple disputed territories both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq claim. As a result, any campaign which enforces demographic change violates the Iraqi Constitution.
“The Iraqi Council of Minister’s decision to halt any process interpreted as an Arabization campaign seems to have no effect as [the Arab residents] are even provided with residential recognition as citizens of Kirkuk,” Kirkuki stated.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany