Imminent Agreement to Form Tuz Khurmatu District Administration while Kurds Miss Qualified Candidates

The Building of Tuz Khurmatu District Mayoralty, Salahaddin province 2017. KirkukNow

By Laila Ahmad in Salahaddin

The Kurds in Tuz Khurmatu district face the problem of the lack of “suitable candidates” to assume the administrative positions that are scheduled to be granted to them according to an agreement with the Turkmen and Sunni Arab components.

The Turkmen, Kurdish and Sunni Arab parties in Tuz Khurmatu district continue their meetings and negotiations in order to reshape Salah al-Din local administration based on the results of last December elections for Provincial Councils.

Atef Ali Samin, a member of the Provincial Council for the National Framework Alliance (Turkmen/representing Tuz Khurmatu), says that they negotiated with the Kurds and Sunni Arabs to resolve the distribution of positions in the district, “so that the positions would be filled equally and without problems.”

“We want to prove that coexistence in Tuz Khurmatu is more important than anything else. Despite the national differences, we must agree and we have already agreed on the positions and we have no problems, but we will not announce at the present time the content of the agreement,” Samin told Kirkuk Now.

The formation of the Tuz Khurmatu administration depends on the formation of the Salah al-Din Governorate administration, which was delayed up to the nomination of the of governor after the Presidency of the Republic refused to issue the republican decree appointing Ahmed Abdullah al-Jubouri (Abu Mazen) as governor of Salah al-Din, who was chosen by the council on February 4 to assume the position.

In its session held on Sunday, March 17, the Provincial Council elected another candidate from the National Masses Alliance to assume the position of governor. The National Mass Alliance, composed of several Arab and Kurdish parties, became the first winner in the provincial council elections and succeeded, within the framework of an agreement with a number of other Sunni parties, including the National Sovereignty and Resolution Alliance, in forming the local government.

The multi-ethnic district of Duz Khurmatu, located 70 kilometers south of Kirkuk and part of Salahaddin province, is the only disputed town of the province and one of the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad, home to 154,000 Turkmens, Kurds and Arabs.

Salahaddin Provincial Council session, Salah al-Din, February 2024. Media of the Salahaddin Provincial Council

Yassin Muhammad, a member of the Salah al-Din Provincial Council for the National Mass Bloc (of the Kurdish component), told KirkukNow, “We conducted negotiations and are seeking to reach an agreement with the Turkmen and Sunni Arabs... So far these parties have no problems and are ready to give us our previous positions.”

The Kurds held the position of mayor of Tuz Khurmatu District for about 10 years, but after the events of October 16, 2017, they lost the position and many other positions, after the withdrawal of the Peshmerga and other Kurdish forces from the district following the deterioration of relations between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG due to the independence referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR. Thousands of families were displaced and hundreds of Kurdish citizens' homes and shops were burned.

If the Kurds have candidates, we do not mind them regaining the positions

Muhammad stressed that most of the important positions were in the hands of the Kurds, including the mayor and directors of the police, health department, water resources, the municipality, electricity, veterinary and the presidency of the court, of which only three positions remained in their hands: the director of the hospital, the veterinary department and the Sunni endowment.

The Kurds have a single representative out of a total of 15 seats in the Saladin Governorate Council, and they also have one representative for the governorate in the Iraqi House of Representatives (both from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK).

“In fact, we Kurds have a problem with the lack of professional cadres who can manage tasks in the district. For example, we can now regain the position of municipality director without problems, but we do not have professional cadres to take over the position,” Muhammad added.

“They even gave us the position of municipality after the events of October 16, but we did not have any one to take over the position. This matter greatly harmed the Kurds,” according to Muhammad.

In 2019, four positions were restored to the Kurds, but due to the Kurdish parties not agreeing to identify candidates, these positions were not filled, including the directors for the municipality and education.

The predominantly Sunni province of Salahaddin, about 135 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital, once home for Saddam Hussein, is under the control of Iraqi Security Forces ISF including the Shia-led pro-Iran paramilitary forces known as al-Hashid al-Shabi, the Popular Mobilization Forces PMF.

Restoration of the streets of the Kumari Kurdish neighborhood in Tuz Khurmato district, Salah al-Din, January 2022. KirkukNow

The Turkmen member of the Salah al-Din Provincial Council says, “The Kurds lost many positions and did not succeed in regaining them, because they do not have candidates to receive these positions. If the Kurds have candidates, we do not mind them regaining the positions of director of agriculture, municipality, and others.”

Turkmen currently hold the positions of mayor, police director, silo and several other positions.

“Our goal is to manage Tuz Khurmatu together... without discrimination between Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs. The experience following the events of October 16 showed that Tuz Khurmatu district cannot be managed by one party,” the Turkmen member added.

Sunni Arabs, who are the main component of the local government in Salah al-Din, have one candidate for the Suleiman Beg sub-district of Tuz Khurmatu district in the provincial council, and they aspire to have a share in the administration of the district.

The Kurdish member of Salahaddin Provincial Council says the Kurds are seeking to reach an agreement with the Turkmen and Arabs so that the distribution of positions will be accepted by the three ethnicities of the district.

“Maybe the Kurds will not be able to regain the position of mayor and police director, but we will seek to obtain other positions.”

Muhammad pointed out that the Kurds, within the framework of the agreement to form the administration of Tuz Khurmatu, will stipulate that the candidates be from the people of the district and that service projects to be distributed by consensus across all regions.

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