Whilst the government and the public are occupied with concern over the ramifications of what happened in Mosul and Tikrit, and its impacts on the future of the unity of Iraq and potential breakup of partnerships and common goals, there is also a parallel preoccupation of the political sphere on the position of the Kurdish leadership, which has confirmed that Kirkuk is a Kurdish city and has become part of Kurdistan.
The position of the Kurdish leadership announced by the President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, has irritated Iraqi forces who see the timing as an exploitation of the circumstances which Iraq is going through, and has described it as a declaration of war on Baghdad through its assimilation of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, and the theft of Iraq’s oil, and conspiracy to occupy Mosul.
Despite the fact that Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki accused Barzani of conspiring with ISIS to occupy Mosul and Tikrit to divide Iraq. Barzani, on the other hand, stressed that the stationing of troops in Kirkuk and the disputed areas does not mean that the Kurds are imposing themselves, stressing that they will hold a referendum on the future of those areas.
Barzani justified the Kurdish Peshmerga’s control over Kirkuk saying it was to prevent them falling into the hands of ISIS after the withdrawal of the Iraqi army from these areas, as well as to protect the borders of Kurdistan and the lives and property of its citizens.
Article 140 of the Constitution states that there should be normalisation followed by a referendum determining the fate of Kirkuk and other disputed areas. But the article remained unresolved since the adoption of the Constitution in 2005.
The coalition vowed that the government would make it a mission to resolve the Kirkuk crisis after settling the situation in Mosul, and that Kirkuk will abolish Barzani to the mountains, according to the leader of the Maliki coalition, Adnan Al-Shahmani.
Al-Shahmani explained that the assimilation of Kirkuk is not surprising, but what is strange is the silence of political parties and blocs that have long beckoned for the unity of Iraq, refusing its division.
He described the control of the Peshmerga forces on Kirkuk and the declaration of the president of Kurdistan’s completion of Article 140 of the Constitution, as serving a declaration of war and a transcendence of the Constitution.
For its part, the Turkmen Front has renewed its position on the status of Kirkuk and the circumstances surrounding recent events and rejected what it called a policy of imposing a fait accompli.
The Turkmen remarks came after a visit by Barzani to Kirkuk and his meeting with a number of leaders of the Peshmerga and Kurdish parties, establishing that these forces will not withdraw from Kirkuk and that Article 140 has reached its goal.
The Turkmen Front has called for discussion of pre-emptive launch projects related to Kirkuk to be stopped, saying Barzani’s comments have particularly worried people in Kirkuk and Turkmenistan since the political situation there directly affects them.
They explained that the UN and international position regarding the Kirkuk issue has stressed the need for agreements between the sides for the determination of the political and administrative options within the Iraqi constitution.
The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is home to Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, and there is a dispute over its governance and identity. The Arabs and Turkmen say the province is Iraqi and not Kurdish, whilst the Kurds claim that it is part of Kurdistan.
According to the Iraqi constitution, Kirkuk and the disputed areas between Arabs and Turkmen on one hand and Kurds on the other hand, should be subject to a referendum on the identity and the desire of its inhabitants to self-determination. But this referendum has yet to materialised, despite the passage of 10 years