Kirkuknow.com – 25.2.2013 – KIRKUK –  The recognition of the Turkmen as the second ethnicity as well as participating in the presidential positions are the two main conditions the Turkmen are holding to in the case of Kirkuk being recognized as part of Kurdistan, according to a Turkmen member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, Kirkuk Now website reported. Najat Hussein, a member of the KPC told Kirkuk Now “The Turkmen are waiting for the Kurds, for assuring that the Turkmen be recognized as the second ethnicity in Kurdistan.”

“If the Kurds are ready to give us the high positions like presidential, prime minister or ministers, we will be willing to recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government as our government and agree for Kirkuk to be part of Kurdistan,” he added. The Turkmen are currently the third ethnicity in Kirkuk as well as in Iraq. They were previously refusing that Kirkuk be part of Kurdistan, which is the main demand of the Kurds.

The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the most disputed areas by the regional governement 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.