Arabs and Turkmen political parties of Kirkuk demand to hand over the entire borders of Kirkuk province to the forces of the Iraqi federal government Kurdish parties support filling the security voids in the province jointly between the army and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The demands of the Arab coalition and the Turkmen Front came in two separate statements addressed on Monday, December 6th to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, and coincided with the imminent formation of two joint brigades of the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga (Fighters) to be deployed in the disputed territories.
The Arab coalition headed by the acting governor of Kirkuk, Rakan Saeed al-Jibouri, called in a statement to “not allow any force to deploy and hold the land within the borders of Kirkuk province, except for the federal security forces.”
“We affirm that Kirkuk security is federal and we will not accept any decision, understandings or consensus about Kirkuk or its security as it is stable since the events of the law enforcement."
Law enforcement operation was launched on October 16th 2017 by former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, resulted in the return of Iraqi forces to Kirkuk and the rest of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil, including Kirkuk and pats of Diyala, Ninewa and Salahaddin, and the withdrawal of the Peshmerga which controlled it since2003 following the toppling of Saddam Hussein regime.
The Arab coalition demanded the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, to "issue directives to investigate the situation in the borderlines to be controlled by the federal forces and prevent turning it into geographic spot for activities by terrorists, criminals, oil smugglers, and those with agendas that do not want good for Iraq and its people move," without direct reference to any party.
For its part, the Turkmen Front ITF, one of the leading Turkmen parties in Kirkuk, called on the PM, "to achieve a tight plan to purify these areas with the participation of all types of the Iraqi armed forces and the Federal Counter-Terrorism Service, and to hand over the entire borders of Kirkuk Governorate to the federal forces exclusively."
The Turkmen, the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, are spread across the country, residing almost exclusively in the northern towns and villages stretching from Tal Afar through Mosul, Erbil, Altun Kupri, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, Kifri and Khanaqin. They are all Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites as well.
The northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.
Currently, Iraqi army, local and federal police, Brigade 61 of Special Forces along with Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, are under Kirkuk joint operations’ command, an umbrella for the security forces running the security of Kirkuk province.
In October 10th general elections, Kurdish political parties have won six seats out of 12 for Kirkuk province in Baghdad alike 2018 general elections while the Arab political parties have mounted their seats from three to four yet the Turkmens lost a seat and earned only two.
The tough stand by the two political parties came after a force of the Peshmerga, in coordination with the Iraqi army, entered the village of Lahiban in the Sargaran district and stationed there with the aim of securing the area and the residents of the village from the escalating threats by the militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant ISIL.
In a statement, Kirkuk office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, one of the leading Kurdish parties which one four seats in Kirkuk, called on the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG to work "quickly" to bridge the security gaps between the lines of the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces in the disputed territories.
The contradictory trends of the components of Kirkuk regarding the security file of the province coincides with the imminent formation of two joint brigades between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army, consisting of two thousand members.
The Secretary-General of the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga MOP, Gen. Jabbar Yawarmanda told KirkukNow earlier there is a common understanding not a signed agreement to form two joint brigades supposed to take over their duties last July, but the matter was postponed due to the lack of budget allocation, equipment and military supplies.
"Currently, a brigade from the Peshmerga is undergoing training at the Ministry of Peshmerga training center, and the same for the brigade of the Iraqi army, and the two brigades are scheduled to be merged during this month and deployed in the areas of Article 140 (disputed territories) next January."