PUK hoists Kurdish flag on its offices in Kirkuk
Acting governor calls for military intervention by Baghdad

January 9, 2019 at 9:46 pm

Kirkuk- Kurdistan Region flag raised alongside the Iraqi and PUK flags on a PUK headquarter in Kirkuk, Jan 9, 2019 Photo: Soran Muhammad

KirkukNow- Kirkuk

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) raised the flag of the Kurdistan Region on its party headquarters and offices in Kirkuk, prompting concerns by some other parties, while the acting governor requested the Iraqi government to send in reinforcements.

Late on Tuesday, January 8th the PUK, in an unexpected move, hoisted the Kurdish flag alongside its banner on the PUK politburo headquarters in the multi-ethnic province. The move renewed the controversial issue of the flag which has been banned in Kirkuk since October 16, 2017.

The PUK organizational center in Kirkuk issued a statement in which they emphasized that “Kirkuk is a disputed territory as defined by the constitution; therefore there is no legal impediment to flying the flag of the Kurdistan Region here.”

“After PUK secretary general Jalal Talabani passed away we lowered the flags of the Kurdistan Region, Iraq and the PUK, but today we formally hoist them again”, the statement added.

The flag of the Kurdistan Region was removed from all government buildings in Kirkuk after Iraqi forces returned to the territories disputed between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan regional government, including Kirkuk in response to a referendum on Independence held by the Kurdistan Region authorities in September 2017.

Acting governor of Kirkuk Rakan Saeed al-Jiburi, in a statement he issued the day after the Kurdish flag was raised by the PUK, called for protecting security, stability and coexistence in the city.

He also called on the Iraqi government to “take immediate action and send troop reinforcements to Kirkuk to thwart any attempts to disrupt the security situation, and also prevent terrorists from exploiting the irresponsible acts of some politicians who never cared for Kirkuk’s stability.”

Rakan al-Jiburi described what happened in Kirkuk as a “political bidding” and warned that “whoever started this will be blamed for the consequences”, stressing that “Kirkuk is under one flag” In Iraq.

Kirkuk- PUK hoists Kurdistan Region flag on its politburo building January 8, 2019 Photo: PUK media

Late on Tuesday, crowds took to the streets to celebrate the PUK’s decision to raise the Kurdish flag.

Brigadier general Afrasyaw Kamil, spokesman to the Kirkuk police told (KirkukNow) they have asked PUK officials to urge their supporters “to avoid celebratory gunshots or fireworks and avert escalations.”

Commenting on the PUK move, the Police spokesman said “the decision was made according to an agreement between the PUK and Baghdad.”

In February 2018, the PUK raised the Kurdish flag on its politburo headquarters in Kirkuk; however it was removed only five minutes later at the decision of the party officials.

Earlier on January 17, 2018, which coincides with the Kurdistan Region Flag Day, the Kurdistan Communist Party hoisted the flag on its Kirkuk headquarters but was removed later by security forces.

The issue of the flag has been a controversial issue among the different components of Kirkuk.

The Turkmen Front has expressed resentment at the PUK’s decision to raise the Kurdish flag. The front also called on the Iraqi PM “not to let anyone ignite problems.”

They describe the raising of the flag as an attempt to disrupt the situation in Kirkuk and reiterate that “Kirkuk should not be used as a political deal in the formation of the new Iraqi cabinet.”

Kirkuk’s security and stability is a red line and is uncompromisable

Meanwhile the head of the Arab bloc in the Kirkuk provincial council Burhan Mzhir Asi on Wednesday asserted that “Kirkuk’s security and stability is a red line that is uncompromisable.”

He expressed support to the acting governor’s call for sending in troops reinforcements.

Kirkuk- provincial council approves raising Kurdistan flag on all governmental buildings, March 28, 2017 Photo: Wrya Kakayee

In March 2017, the Kirkuk provincial council in a meeting boycotted by the Arab and Turkmen blocs approved a decision to hoist Kurdistan region flag on government buildings.

Later in April, 2017, the Iraqi parliament decided that only the Iraqi flag should be flown over the government institutions across Kirkuk, the parliament voting was boycotted by the Kurdish factions.

In reaction to the parliament’s decision, the provincial council held another session in the absence of the Arab and Turkmen members and rejected the parliament’s decision.

The PUK has reaffirmed that raising the flag of the Kurdistan Region is a legal and constitutional right.

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