ARTICLE 140 : Six Years Later, Questions Linger About Effectiveness of Article 140 Committee

SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ) – 13/09/2012 RUDAW By ADNAN HUSSEIN – KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region—In 2006, a parliamentary committee was established to oversee the implementation of Article 140, which addresses the disputed territories. The committee has 17 members; three are Kurds, including the chair of the committee.

Chair Muhsin Sadun claims that the committee is crucial to issues surrounding the disputed territories, but some political factions have criticized the committee.

Arab Sunnis have called it “Illegitimate.” Kurdish opposition groups have also criticized the structure of the committee. While Iraqi Parliament approved the establishment of the committee six years ago, it still operates on a temporary basis.   Sadun told Rudaw that when the committee was formed, 37 lawmakers registered to become members and the large number interfered in the committee’s performance. He added, “Some parliamentary factions have openly opposed the establishment of the committee, because they knew it is very important for the Kurds.”

The current political situation and troubled relationships between parties in Iraq have contributed to the delay in the committee’s work, Sadun said, adding, “If we work relentlessly we can still do something for those who fall under the category of the article.”

Omer Jibury, a member of the committee, criticizes its structure. According to the law issued in 2011, he says the committee must include 34 members, but that number has been reduced. Jibury, a Sunni Arab from Kirkuk, also believes that Kirkuk provincial council members oppose the establishment of the committee because they see it as a political agreement. Several Kurds expressed disappointment over how few Kurds were in the committee. However, Sadun insisted that membership was based on the size of elected factions in parliament. For example, the National Coalition, which is the largest bloc in parliament, has eight members, while the Iraqiya List has six members and the Kurdistan Alliance has three.

The Change Movement (Gorran), the largest Kurdish opposition group, dismissed the claims that membership in the committee was based on the size of elected blocs in parliament, saying that if that was true they would have had one member. Sheikh Latif, a Gorran MP, said that his party requested having one member in the committee. Although the province of Kirkuk is at the center of discussions about the disputed territories, the committee doesn’t have any members from the area despite the province having six representatives in Iraqi Parliament. Burhan Faraj, an MP from the Kurdistan Alliance, strongly criticized the committee for this reason, saying, “We consider Kirkuk to be the symbol of Article 140. It is a big mistake that the committee has no Kurdish members from Kirkuk.” He added, “Those who negotiated on behalf of the Kurds must be held accountable. It is not acceptable that they turn a blind eye to mistakes every time.”

Sirwan Ahmad, a representative of Kirkuk in Iraqi Parliament, maintained that the three Kurdish representatives in the committee are really representatives of the Kurdistan Alliance, not of Kirkuk. “They are not aware of the issues in Kirkuk and the disputed territories,” he said. Sadun admitted that a representative from Kirkuk was necessary in the committee. “We have tried to solve this issue in the Kurdistan Alliance,” he said.

However, Muhammad said that so far the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have not reached an agreement on the appointment of a committee representative from Kirkuk.

The KDP has only one representative from Kirkuk in Iraqi Parliament. The other representatives from Kirkuk are from the PUK, Kurdistan Islamic League (Komal), Gorran and Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU). Faraj values the importance of the committee. “The task of this parliamentary committee is to monitor the work of the committee implementing Article 140,” he said, emphasizing its importance in finding a solution to the disputed territories.

However, Ahmad is disappointed in the committee, saying its only task is “supervising.” Muhammad confirmed that the committee will have a direct contact with those implementing Article 140 and its role will be crucial. Sadun said, “We will follow up on the issues in the Article 140 offices in different cities, request funds from the government for implementing the article and investigate delays wherever they happen.”