Kirkuk tribal leaders resentful of the province’s ongoing disputes

Kirkuk- A meeting of tribal leaders of Kirkuk’s diverse components  Photo: KirkukNow

Goran Baban- Kirkuk

 Tribal leaders of Kirkuk’s diverse communities have expressed discontent over ongoing political in the province, and put forth a range of proposals to the local administration aimed to promote peaceful coexistence among the different components of the province.

The way the province is run in terms of the security, political and administrative status, has been a subject of disagreement between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, leading to public concern and a setback for its revival."Our aim is to protect social cohesion among the components of Kirkuk. No one listens to us, otherwise most problems will be resolved through dialogues," Faizulla Sari Kahya, head of the Turkmen groups in Iraq told KirkukNow.

In addition to the disputes over the post of Kirkuk governor and the provincial council’s paralysis, the provincial council elections, which have not been held there for 14 years due to continuing differences is another major problem facing Kirkuk."

The current administration of Kirkuk is acting in a sense of retaliation; agricultural lands of Kurds are being seized, many key institutions are being marginalized and many Kurdish officials have been dismissed. The situation is so different compared to 15 years ago," said Osman Agha, leader of the Kurdish Zangana tribe.

"Our message is to spread fraternity and peace among the components, but what happens on the ground is a complete hostility towards the Kurds." After the October 16, 2017events, key changes took place in the way the security dossiers in Kirkuk was run.

After the return of the federal forces to the province and the withdrawal of the Peshmerga forces, the position of the governor was assumed by an Arab for the first since 2003.
Speaking to KirkukNow, Sheikh Hamid Abdul-Karim, leader of of the Bayat tribe in Kirkuk, said "Kirkuk must stay as an Iraqi city. What distinguishes Kirkuk from all other Iraqi provinces is that it belongs to all the components." 
He believes political disputes are the source of the problems for the people of Kirkuk. "Holding provincial elections is the only way which would determine the true size of each component and establish the basis for a power sharing scheme," he added.

Kirkuk- A gathering of Arab tribal leaders and dignitaries, 2019   Photo: KirkukNow

A power sharing project proposed by the late Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has suggested that 32% of the posts would be allocated for each of the Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen components and 4% for the Christians.

The leader of the Turkmen groups in Iraq Faizulla Sari Kahya said, “Turkmens have been oppressed for depriving them from holding the position of Kirkuk governor during the past 15 years. The Kurds and the Arabs each assumed that position; therefore it is time to give the Turkmens this chance.”

He explained that their proposals are not considered by politicians, citing peaceful protests as the only way to achieve their goals. "If we are given the opportunity, the least thing we can resolve is the disputes over land ownership, backed by the strong ties we have with the Arab and Kurdish tribes, but politicians own interests are blocking the way.” According to Sari kahya.

Disputes over ownership of agricultural land is one of the most complicated issues in the multi-ethnic province, that should be resolved in accordance to article 140 of the Iraqi constitution.The leader of the Zangana tribe calls for joint efforts to spread the spirit of brotherhood and tolerance among the components.

"It is not acceptable to grant previleges to a particular component at the expense of others, like what is happening now. We want to be partners; our issues should be dealt with according to the law, without to resorting to revenge and denial of others’ rights," he concluded.


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