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Kurdish Official Rejects Turkmen Proposal to Turn Kirkuk Into Region

A Kurdish political official says that Kurds must oppose in full force any attempt to turn the now Iraqi-controlled oil rich province of Kirkuk into an independent region, after the Turkmen Front unveiled such plans through the Iraqi parliament.

Hicran Kazanci, the representative of the Turkmen party in Turkey, told Rudaw that their proposal to form an independent region in Kirkuk has the parliamentary support, but it remains to be seen whether the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will support it.

The Tukmen official said their plan to form a region for Kirkuk follows a formula that will ensure the major components of the province an equal share of the official positions.

"When we say an independent administration, we mean by it dividing the posts in Kirkuk on an equal base with 32 percent for Turkmens, Kurds, and Arabs. The Chaldean and Assyrian will have [the remaining] 4 percent," Kazanci said.

Enough signatures by Iraqi MPs have been collected for this Turkmen suggestion, he added, "but Mr Abadi has not commented on this as of now."

The 32-percent formula was first introduced by the late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, also the head of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). It did not call for an independent region. It was a power sharing initiative by Talabani to administer the local government in the province.

Kirkuk is part of the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq whose fate is to be determined by Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. It included a number of measures, including reversing the process of Arabization, to be followed by a referendum that will ask its population to choose between joining the Kurdistan Region or staying with Iraq.

Regarding calls to turn Kirkuk into an independent region, the stronghold of the PUK, senior party member Mala Bakhtiyar said at the memorial held for Talabani on Friday that the Kurdish parties have to oppose such a move to "the last remaining Kurd."

The Iraqi forces and their allied Shiite militia of the Hashd al-Shaabi controlled Kirkuk on October 16 as part of a wider military incursion into the disputed areas previously held by the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Bakhtiyar, who described the Kirkuk takeover as a "plot," said that the military operation will ultimately fail.

"Every military success that comes as the result of a plot will lead to arrogance. This arrogance will not be translated into a political and administrative fact on the ground. The best thing is for all of us to go back to the table of negotiation and let the [Iraqi] constitution judge between us," Bakhtiyar said.

Kurdistan's former President Masoud Barzani on Friday described the fall of Kirkuk and other areas to the Iraqi forces as "temporarily."

He called on the Iraqi government to enter talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government that is tasked with heading the peace talks that is aimed to address the outstanding issues between the two sides including the fate of the disputed areas.


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