Shiite Militia Presence in Kirkuk Angers Kurds – Shiite militias in Kirkuk are increasing in number as they seek to exploit the current situation

Basnews | Hemin Salih – 03.02.2015 – KIRKUK – The Shiite militias in Kirkuk are increasing in number as they seek to exploit the current situation in the northern Iraq province. A Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Peshmerga commander has deemed the action of the Shiite militias in Kirkuk unacceptable. Relations between the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and the PUK reformation wing – led by PUK Secretary Deputies, Kosrat Rasoul and Barham Salih- have improved after they held a meeting on the frontline on 23rd January.

Sources told BasNews that the PUK reformation wing has promised Barzani that it will participate in his national agenda. When Kirkuk became unstable, Barzani appointed Kosrat Rasoul the highest commander in Kirkuk, to prevent what happened in Jalawla and Saadia also happening in Kirkuk.

Kosrat Rasoul Ali’s success in defending the city has bought official praise from Barzani, improving the relationship still further. Member of the PUK Presidency Council and Commander of PUK Peshmerga forces, Mustafa Chawrash, told BasNews, “Kirkuk Peshmerga are not in need of Shiite militia or any other non-Kurdish forces. So their presence in Kirkuk without having approval from the Kirkuk Provincial Council is completely unacceptable”. “Kurdistan is ours and we will defend it,” he added. “Shiite Militias have been observed in Kirkuk, but their number is unknown.”

In an interview with BasNews, the Commander clarified , “If they respect the constitution, they must enter Kirkuk for cooperation, only when they are requested and approved by the Kirkuk Provincial Council. But within the current situation, their presence in Kirkuk will not help and it is not in Kirkuk’s interests.”Acting Head of Kirkuk Provincial Council, Dr. Rebwar Talabani also talked to BasNews and emphasised, “No forces will be allowed to enter Kirkuk without approval from the Peshmerga and Kirkuk Provincial Council, because we have already had unfavorable experiences with Dijla operations.”Talabani continued, “Some Shiite militia are present on the outskirts of Kirkuk only to protect Shiite residents in the area, but they are not allowed to enter the city at all”. “Kurds and Turkmen on Kirkuk Provincial Council have the same opinion about Shiite militia but Arabs have remained silent,” Talabani said.