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Ankara backs Iraqi central gov't on flag controversy

April 2, 2017 at 8:52 am

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim late Saturday voiced support for the Iraqi central government’s decision not to allow northern Kurdish administration’s flags over the city of Kirkuk.

“We are supporting Iraqi government on this issue,” Yildirim said during a televised interview. If need be, we can enter dialogue with the UN and other institutions,” he added.

The prime minister said he discussed the issue with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Friday.

“We support Baghdad,” Yildirim said. “We do not accept a fait accompli. We think a decision like this, which aims to change the demographic makeup of Kirkuk, is not correct. This is clearly against Iraqi constitution.”

Last week, 26 Kurdish members of Kirkuk’s provincial assembly voted in favor of raising the KRG flag alongside Iraq’s national flag outside the city’s public buildings and institutions.

On Saturday, the Iraqi parliament voted against the practice, stipulating that only the Iraqi national flag be hoisted.

However, Kirkuk’s city council chairman Rebiwar Talabani said Saturday the city would not implement the parliament’s decision.

During the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga forces have seized Kirkuk, prompting an influx of Kurds into the city.

Baghdad says Kirkuk is administratively dependent on Iraq’s central government, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party demands Kirkuk’s incorporation into the Kurdish region.

The city’s Turkmen residents, however, oppose this idea, saying Kirkuk should enjoy a “special status”.

Kirkuk’s population is mainly composed of Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish inhabitants.