Kurdistan’s Change Movement calls on Baghdad to coordinate with Erbil before sending troops

aswataliraq.info | Aknews.com | AP | AFP | Reuters | DPA  – 10. 9. 2012 – ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’,— Kurdish Change Movement (Gorran) expressed it is rejection of sending any Iraqi troops from other parts of Iraq in Kirkuk and other “cut off” areas without prior coordination with Erbil. It criticized the role of the Kurdistan region representatives in the central government for being “unable to prevent such developments”.

Change Movement spokesman Dr Shaho Saeed issued a statement, he announced that “the Movement rejects dissemination of any armed forces sent from other Iraqi areas to Kirkuk and other cut off areas, including Dijla operations forces”.He added that such military movements will incite panic among the people, so “these forces should not be sent before finalizing the status of the disputed areas according to the constitution”. Kurdish political circles, including Change Movement, rejected the formation of Dijla (Tigris) Operations Command till the implementation of Article 140 of the constitution.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decided to form an army force under the name of Dijla Operations Command to securely control both Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. The rejection took place in a meeting headed by Kurdish region president Massoud Barzani. Article 140 of the constitution stipulated normalization of the situations in Kirkuk and other disputed areas in Ninewa, Diyala and Salahal-Din provinces within a time table ending 31 December 2007.

The Article stipulated self-determination to these areas whether to remain an independent administrative unit or to join the Kurdish region through referendum, but many obstacles took place that delayed the implementation of this Article.

Iraqi Defence Ministry announced on 3 July 2012 the formation of Dijla Operations Command to supervise the security dossier in Diala and Kirkuk provinces, but Kurdish Peshmerga ministry secretary general Jabbar Yawar announced that “the ministry will, “strongly through dialogue” will reject the formation of the new command, which “aimed at controlling the cut off areas in the Kurdish region”.

Kirkuk Provincial Council rejected Baghdad orders to attach the forces available in the province with the new military command, but with boycott of the Arab Group to the meeting.

Kurdistan rejects formation of Tigris Operations Command

Kurdistan Region’s political parties on Saturday rejected the decision to form the Tigris (Dijla) Operations Command. The Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani met with political parties in Pirmam to discuss a number of important issues regarding the region. The secretary of Kurdistan’s Toilers Party Balen Abdullah said: “The meeting ended an hour ago between Barzani and the region’s officials and political parties. The points discussed in the meeting included the visit of the US Congress and Foreign Ministry’s delegation.” Barzani explained that the US delegation’s visit was to discuss the region’s situation, the region and Baghdad issues and the current crisis in Syria, confirming that they support solving Iraqi problems. “The second point was the formation of the Tigris Operations Command by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The formation of this force is against article 61 of the Iraqi constitution and the agreements between Baghdad and Erbil.” Abdullah added that all parties rejected the decision and expressed their support for Kirkuk Provincial Council, which earlier rejected the decision, adding that they are against Maliki’s policy of working against Kurds.

Head of the Gorran faction Kardo Mohammed, who attended the meeting, said: “The formation of this force is against the Iraqi constitution and is about declaring a military area in Kirkuk province and disputed areas and also to cripple article 140 and reduce Kirkuk province’s authority.”

Diyala province, a restive part of Iraq outside the Kurdish autonomous region of Kurdistan but home to many Kurds. The Diyala district, which includes a string of villages and some of Iraq’s oil reserves, is home to about 175,000 Kurds, most of them Shiites. In June 2006, the local council of Khanaqin proposed that the district be integrated into the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

During the Arabisation policy of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, a large number of Kurdish Shiites were displaced by force from Khanaqin. They started returning after the fall of Saddam in 2003. Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas like Khanaqin. Kurdistan’s government says oil-rich Khanaqin should be part of its semi-autonomous region, which it hopes to expand in a referendum in the future. In the meantime, Khanaqin and other so-called disputed areas remain targets of Sunni Arab insurgents opposed to Kurdish expansion and vowing to hold onto land seized during ex-dictator Saddam Hussein’s efforts to “Arabize” the region.

The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the most disputed areas by the regional government and the Iraqi government in Baghdad. The Kurds are seeking to integrate the province into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region clamming it to be historically a Kurdish city, it lies just south border of the Kurdistan autonomous region, the population is a mix of majority Kurds and minority of Arabs, Christians and Turkmen, lies 250 km northeast of Baghdad. Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional attachment to Kirkuk, which they call “the Kurdish Jerusalem.” Kurds see it as the rightful and perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state. Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas through having back its Kurdish inhabitants and repatriating the Arabs relocated in the city during the former regime’s time to their original provinces in central and southern Iraq. The article also calls for conducting a census to be followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having it as an independent province.

The former regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had forced over 250,000 Kurdish residents to give up their homes to Arabs in the 1970s, to “Arabize” the city and the region’s oil industry.The last ethnic-breakdown census in Iraq was conducted in 1957, well before Saddam began his program to move Arabs to Kirkuk. That count showed 178,000 Kurds, 48,000 Turkomen, 43,000 Arabs and 10,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christians living in the city.