Turkmens reiterate desire for Kirkuk governorship

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 28.09.2019 00:00

The Turkmens community in northern Iraq's Kirkuk province reiterated their desire to run the governorship office until the local elections in 2020.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC) spokesperson Mohammed Saman said: "We want the Kirkuk governorship to be given to Turkmens until the local elections in 2020."

Stating that Kirkuk were ruled by Arab or Kurdish governors for years, Saman said that Turkmens should be given the office for six months.

Although it has been two years since the central government took control of Kirkuk, Saman underlined the injustice in the appointments in the administration of the city.

He further said that the central government lacks the power to completely control the city and added that the Turkmens' voices are not heard and demands are not supported by the central government.

Saying that they previously held meetings on the issue at the U.N.'s Kirkuk office, he said that Kurdish parties rejected their demands despite explaining the reasons why the governorship should be given to Turkmens.

"Despite Kurdish armed forces withdrawing from the city two years ago, police and security units are still under the control of these forces," he said.

Saman called on the Interior and Defense ministries to deal with this problem and the Iraqi army to be redeployed in the city.

"In order to protect Kirkuk from terror attacks, we want the Iraqi army to redeploy in the city," he added.

Kirkuk is located in a disputed area of Iraq that runs from Sinjar on the Syrian border southeast to Khanaqin and Mandali on the Iranian border. Kirkuk has been a disputed territory for around 80 years. The Kurds have wanted Kirkuk to become part of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which has been opposed by the Arabs and Turkmens in the region. The Iraqi Turkmens, also known as Iraqi Turks, are a Turkic-speaking minority whose total population is estimated at some 3 million. The oil-rich province has been a battleground for competing forces since the U.S.-led ouster of President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

A month after the KRG held a controversial referendum on regional independence in September 2017, Iraqi forces backed by Shiite militias dislodged Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who had taken control of the city of Kirkuk in 2014, preventing its capture by Daesh terrorists. Daesh, on the other side, had taken control of one-third of Iraq in June 2014. As a result of the operations of the Iraqi forces and the support of Turkey, the military presence of Daesh was substantially eradicated in December 2017.

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