Turkmen call autonomy for Kirkuk, Kurds reject
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkmen in Kirkuk are preparing a draft constitution for “the future autonomous region” of the Province, but Kurds are expected to reject the proposal.
Kirkuk is an oil-rich region located in southeastern Kurdistan. It is a multi-ethnic and cultural area that consists of Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs, and Christians.
Kurds alone make over 50 percent of the population. Kirkuk has been called the “undivided part of the Kurdistan Region” for decades.
On Saturday, Turkmen officials and parties in Kirkuk met to discuss a possible autonomous region and prepare a draft constitution for it.
Kirkuk Turkmen have formed two committees. The first is entrusted to write the draft constitution for the planned autonomy. The other committee is responsible for holding meetings with different components in the Province to reach an agreement regarding the autonomy.
In a press conference on Saturday, Tahsin Kahiya, a Turkmen member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC), stated that it is a unified Turkmen-based project.
He mentioned that it would help solve most of the issues in Kirkuk, and determine the political and administrative destiny of the Province.
Kahiya noted that the project began following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in the country in June 2014.
Turkmens believe that their rights can be better secured within the autonomous region of Kirkuk. They claim that the relation between Kirkuk and the federal government of Iraq is getting worse each day.
The upcoming meeting involving Turkmen parties regarding the preparation of a draft constitution is expected to be held in Baghdad.
“Turkmen parties have agreed on the autonomous region of Kirkuk for over a decade,” Riyaz Sari Kahiya, a Turkmen lawmaker in Kirkuk, told Kurdistan24.
“Now, they believe it is the best time to announce autonomy for the province,” he added.
The lawmaker stated that in the coming days, they will visit other components of Kirkuk, including Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians to reach a consensus agreement on Kirkuk’s autonomy.
Kurds, who are the majority in the Province, reject Kirkuk’s independence and believe that it will not help solve issues.
On Saturday, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a central party in Kirkuk, held a political bureau meeting rejecting autonomy for the region.
“Kirkuk is an undivided part of the Kurdistan Region, and Article 140 [in the constitution of Iraq about the disputed territories] has to be implemented,” a PUK statement read.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Soran Kamaran and Hunar Ahmad contributed to the report from Kirkuk)