Nourschiwan’s movement supports annexing Kirkuk to Kurdistan region  – 7.11.. 2012 – KIRKUK,  –  The leader of the main Kurdish opposition party, Change movement (Gorran), Nawshirwan Mustafa announced on Tuesday that his movement supports joining Kirkuk to Kurdistan region in return for guaranteeing a special status to its population and stressed his support for the local government and welcomed the strengthening of the Iraqi army capacity without interfering it in political disputes.

Mustafa said in a news conference after a meeting Tuesday with the Governor of Kirkuk and senior officials, that “the aim of his visit is to support and assist Gorran Change movement to Kirkuk governor and the decisions of the provincial council in Kirkuk.

“The movement is with strengthening the capacity of the Iraqi army and arming it,” adding that “it doesn’t endorse nor support pushing the Iraqi army to resolve political disputes”. For his part, Kirkuk governor, Najmaldin Karim renewed in the conference his rejection from forming Dijla operations in Kirkuk, that ,”We confirm our support for the work of the security committee and its great coordination and our understanding with the leadership of squad 12,” Mustafa Nawshirwan arrived on Tuesday morning to Kirkuk in an unannounced visit.

A local official told “Shafaq News”, that “Mustafa met upon his arrival with Kirkuk governor and discussed several issues concerning the political side, without going through the details. He added that Mustafa hold meetings with his movement’s staff in Kirkuk.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.