Turkmen, Arabs reject Kirkuk inclusion in Kurdistan referendum
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Kurds and residents of Kirkuk demand the Province be included in the Kurdistan Region referendum, but Turkmen and Arab parties are against the move.
The President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani has called for an independence referendum in 2016. President Barzani has previously stated that it is the right of people in the Region to decide on their future.
The referendum is expected to include the disputed territories, including Kirkuk and the city of Sinjar (Shingal).
Residents of the Province, Kurds in particular, hope that Kirkuk will not be excluded in the upcoming referendum. The region is often considered an “undivided part of Kurdistan.”
“Kurds have defended Kirkuk from [the Islamic State] with blood and made big sacrifices for the sake of protecting the province,” Karzan Ali, a Kurdish resident in Kirkuk, told Kurdistan24 on Sunday.
Ali believes that Kurdistan’s referendum should include Kirkuk. “The people of Kirkuk must have a chance to decide whether they want to be part of the Kurdistan Region or not,” he declared.
Anas Abdulamir, a Turkmen resident, told Kurdistan24 that Kurdish Peshmerga forces have protected the province from enemies while the federal government of Iraq has ignored Kirkuk.
“It is the Kurdistan Region and Peshmerga forces that help and protect Kirkuk. I hope all components will reach an agreement and allow the people to decide on their future,” Abdulamir said.
Kurdish officials have tried to convince Turkmen and Arab parties to agree on linking Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Region, but the parties disagree.
Hassan Toran, Deputy Head of Turkmen Front and a member of the parliament of Iraq, told Kurdistan24 that the Constitution of Iraq has drawn the border of the Kurdistan Region, and Kirkuk Province is not part of it.
He believes that the participation of Kirkuk’s residents in the Kurdistan referendum is a violation of the constitution.
Article 140 of the Constitution of Iraq states, “Normalization and census conclude with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citizens by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007.”
According to the Article, the referendum for Kirkuk should have taken place in 2007. After almost a decade later, it has not been conducted.
Additionally, Arab parties believe that there should be a consensus agreement based on the constitution before a referendum in Kirkuk is held.
“Any steps taken based on the constitution will be in the interest of people," Mahmoud Zidan, the Adviser of the Iraqi Parliament Speaker, told Kurdistan24.
“However, there should be a pre-agreement with all constituents of Kirkuk, especially residents,” he concluded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Soran Kamaran contributed to this report)