ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) Rebwar Talabani on Tuesday sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, proposing suggestions on how to bring stability back to Kirkuk Province.
“The people of the disputed areas, especially Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu, have become victims of the differences between Baghdad and Erbil, which requires a serious pause from you,” Talabani said while reading the letter at a press conference in Erbil.
Ties between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq have considerably deteriorated since Kurdistan’s Sep. 25 independence referendum which saw an overwhelming majority vote for statehood.
“The appropriate atmosphere must be created for the return of the KPC to exercise its functions as the legitimate representative of the people of Kirkuk and end the administrative vacuum,” Talabani added.
On Oct. 16, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias attacked and took control of Kirkuk and other disputed territories which were under the protection of the Peshmerga forces over the past few years.
The attack led to the displacement of over 180,000 people to cities in the Kurdistan Region, fearing abuses and violations by the militia groups.
In Khurmatu, hundreds of Kurdish houses were looted, burned, and destroyed by the militias as instability continues in the area.
Many KPC members have also been displaced to the Region. The council has not been able to convene since the Oct. 16 incident due to disagreements among members on the location of the meeting as some refuse to return to Kirkuk under the current situation.
“Ensure the safe and dignified return of displaced families to their homes and compensate the affected and the families of the martyrs as well as releasing the detainees who were arrested for political reasons,” the Kurdish official noted in his letter to Abadi.
Oil-rich Kirkuk is a diverse province made up of Turkmen, Arabs, and Christians, with a Kurdish majority. The province was one of the disputed territories that participated in the Sep. 25 independence vote.
“End the military situation in the province and instruct all military units, including the Hashd al-Shaabi, to return to its previous locations, and hand over the security of Kirkuk to the local administration and its security apparatus,” the KPC head asked Abadi.
He also stressed the constitutional right of political parties who should be allowed to return to Kirkuk and work side by side with other political factions and movements in the province.
Talabani noted these parties should be allowed re-establish their offices as many of them have been looted and confiscated by militias and Iraqi forces.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany