ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) held a meeting on Saturday in Erbil under the supervision of its leader Masoud Barzani to discuss recent security developments in the disputed province of Kirkuk and the formation of the new cabinet of the Kurdistan Region.
This is the party’s first high-level meeting since the regional parliament's election of Nechirvan Barzani to be president of the Kurdistan Region on Tuesday.
The gathering comes amid an increasingly tense security situation in the province of Kirkuk, one of multiple territories in the country disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq. Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution provided for a referendum to be held in the oil-rich and ethnically-diverse province by the end of 2007 to determine its future, but it has yet to be implemented by subsequent Iraqi governments.
In what appeared to have been coordinated bombings in the city, five explosions rocked Kirkuk late Thursday. According to Iraq's Ministry of Health, they resulted in the death of two people and the injury of 38 others, including women and children.
Related Article: Multiple explosions rock Kirkuk, leave many casualties
“The continuation and increasing number of terrorist activities in Kirkuk and surrounding areas are dangerous signs of a resurgence of terror and destabilization of the region,” President-elect Barzani said a statement.
“Combating these terrorist acts requires more help and cooperation between the concerned authorities of the federal government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Both sides should address it seriously.”
On Friday, a legislative committee from the Kurdistan Region's parliament proposed a five-step solution it claimed would reduce threats to Kirkuk residents, focused primarily on the return of Kurdish Peshmerga forces to take part in the province's security.
The committee's statement was released hours after videos began circulating on social media which showed crop fields from two villages in the province's northern section ablaze. Those who shot the footage – Kurdish farmers who own the land – alleged that the incident was part of a series of recent fires they said were started by Arab settlers who claimed that the property had belonged to them.
For his part, Masoud Barzani stated the day before that “Attacks on Kurdish families, through burning down their farmland and crops, are a grave injustice committed against the innocent Kurdish civilians living in the areas.”
In November 2017, the KDP leader announced he would end his already-extended term as regional president in the aftermath of the referendum on independence and as Kurdish parties failed to agree on a date for regional elections. Since then, the powers of the president have been delegated to the prime minister, parliamentary speaker, and the regional judiciary.
It’s expected that the newly elected President Nechirvan Barzani, Masoud Barzani's nephew, will take his oath of office at a ceremony on June 10.
Editing by John J. Catherine