MESOP FOCUS : Kurdish Bid to Merge Kirkuk Into Kurdistan Region Angers Baghdad

Rudaw –  2016-08-03 – A recent Kurdish attempt to integrate Kirkuk into the Kurdistan Region, by reaching out to several political parties in that region, has angered Baghdad. “We have come to Kirkuk to finish our project which we have been working on since last week. This project aims to make developments among the political parties with regards to the future of the city,” Nasraddin Sndi, the Kurdish minister for the KRG’s disputed areas, told Rudaw. Sndi went on to add that they “would like to hear their feedback on moving forward so that we could help restore Kirkuk [to the Kurdistan Region] as soon as possible.”

The Kurdish parties – who all agree that Kirkuk should be integrated into the Kurdistan Region – want a convention held on this matter as soon as possible.

“All parties are together and we have persistent meetings. This is a message to Baghdad that the KRG is working to solve Kirkuk issues,” said Hassan Sheikhani, the head of the Kurdistan Islamic Movement office in Kirkuk.  The Shiites have informed their prominent leader, Muqtada al-Sadr about the move by the Kurds to return Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Region, asking him to voice his opinion.The KRG wants to meet with Turkmen parties in Kirkuk. In the past Turkmen parties in Kirkuk had a plan for the formation of a self-administrated region in that region. However recently there have been divisions among the Turkmen parties on this issue.

“We welcome the KRG’s minister to Kirkuk. We believe such meetings are good, and if the minister meets with Turkmen parties they will know about our opinions, too,” Riyaz Sari Kahiye, a Turkmen official in Kirkuk, told Rudaw. Kahiye made sure that the Turkmen are “with the formation of a self-administrated region in Kirkuk”.