Sunni coalition supports KDP return to Kirkuk
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Sunni coalition in Kirkuk on Saturday announced that it supports the return of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to Kirkuk amid protests by members of the Shiite militia forces that call for preventing the reopening of the Kurdish party’s headquarters.
Qiyada Coalition, a Sunni electoral alliance of ‘Azm and Taqadum parties for the provincial election in December, announced their support for the leading Kurdish party in a press conference in Kirkuk on Saturday.
“We support the KDP return to Kirkuk as it is a political party and has the right politically participate in Kirkuk,” Khalid Mafraji, a leader of the coalition, said, adding the return should be “peaceful”.
Following the military takeover of Kirkuk by the Iranian-backed Shiite militia forces and Iraqi military in 2017, the KDP has ceased all its operations in protest of the attacks on the oil-rich province.
The party’s headquarters and offices have since been occupied by the Iraqi forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has recently notified those forces that they should hand over the buildings to the KDP ahead of the provincial elections on December 18, 2023.
Members of the militia forces have been protesting in front of what is used by the KDP headquarters in Kirkuk since last week against the decision, calling for not allowing the party to return.
Although no decision has been made for the return of Kurdish Peshmerga forces to Kirkuk, one protesting banner reads, "All the Arab and Turkomen tribes reject the return of KDP Peshmerga forces to Kirkuk."
The party’s main headquarters, which used to serve as its Kirkuk leadership office, is currently used by the Kirkuk Joint Operations Command center. It was previously the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services headquarters after 2017 for a brief period.
The Iraqi Turkmen Front and Arabic Coalition headed by Rakan al-Jabouri, who has been acting as Kirkuk governor since 2017, have publicly opposed the KDP’s return to the oil-rich province.
The party has not officially commented on the handover decision by the Iraqi premier, waiting for “practical steps” to be taken, Kurdistan 24 has learned from its officials. Similar attempts previously have been futile, they say.