ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The civil organization committee in the disputed Khanaqin and its surrounding areas has launched a campaign to gather signatures to support the implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution.
The campaign began as a result of the dire security situation in the disputed town and its surrounding villages. It has gathered over 3,000 signatures in 24 hours.
Wesam Ahmed, an activist who participated in organizing the movement, said the Khanaqin region “represents a town of coexistence.”
He added that the campaign would benefit “all the different ethnicities and factions in the town” and help ensure Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, related to the status of disputed areas, is enacted.
“Invoking the article will benefit all the different ethnicities in the city to ensure their rights,” Ahmed told Kurdistan 24.
Khanaqin is a disputed territory between Baghdad and Erbil, with a predominantly Kurdish population, located in the province of Diyala.
According to Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, the future of Kirkuk and other disputed areas was to be decided with a local referendum where the people who live in these provinces choose if they want to join the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) or remain under the administration of the Iraqi government. The deadline for the referendum was 2007. However, no such vote has taken place.
Those who signed the petition hope Article 140 is implemented, so collective security between the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Peshmerga fills the security void which has resulted in the evacuation of 20 Kurdish villages in the area.
In recent years, the area was under the protection of Peshmerga troops, but following the Oct. 16, 2017, attack and military takeover by Iraqi forces and Shia militias, the region has witnessed increased instability.
Iraq declared victory against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in December 2017, but the terror group continues to carry out insurgency attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings in several provinces, including Kirkuk, Nineveh, Anbar, Salahuddin, and Diyala.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Harem Jaff)