Wednesday, 15 July 2009, 06:51 GMT
Massoud Barzani warns Arab and Turkoman over Kirkuk destiny

Massoud Barzani, the President of the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq's north

AK News

Kirkuk enjoys a Kurdistani identity just like Erbil and Duhok and is part of Kurdistan

Kirkuk, just like any other Kurdish city in the Kurdistan region, is a Kurdistani city (predominantly populated by Kurds), Barzani said.

Kirkuk is a Kurdistani city, just like any other Kurdish city in the region and time won't make us forget about it, president of Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani said.

Kirkuk and article 140 of the Iraqi constitution will not fade away by the passage of time, Barzani said, on Tuesday in a statement, addressing the Arab and Turkomans of Iraq.

The article 140 has to be implemented even if it is after one thousand years, he said.

Barzani rejected the proposal that Kirkuk should be divided on 4 sectors, 32% for each of the Kurdish, Arab and Turkoman communities and 4% for the Christians, as a solution.

"Why should the elections be held then" Barzani said criticizing the solution.

President of the Kurdistan region stressed, in the statement, the Kurdish identity of Kirkuk just like Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Duhok cities.

It is part of Kurdistan and all the historical and geographical evidences prove that fact, he said.

However, Barzani promised that after the implementation of article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, they will "generously" share the administrative posts of the province with the Arabs and Turkomans.

The president also called on the Arabs and Turkomans to listen to the historical and geographical facts and to "stop playing around with the issue, we will not allow you take over by deception and self-assertion on the city."

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution outlines a three-stage process to resolve the disputes over areas contested by the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad.

The Article is mainly evoked in the case of Kirkuk province, which is the main source of tension between Erbil and Baghdad.

Kirkuk city is historically a Kurdish city and it lies just south border of the Kurdistan autonomous region, the population is a mix of majority Kurds and minority of Arabs, Christians and Turkmen, lies 250 km northeast of Baghdad. Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional attachment to Kirkuk, which they call "the Kurdish Jerusalem." Kurds see it as the rightful and perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state.

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas through having back its Kurdish inhabitants and repatriating the Arabs relocated in the city during the former regime's time to their original provinces in central and southern Iraq.

The article also calls for conducting a census to be followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having it as an independent province.

The former regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had forced over 250,000 Kurdish residents to give up their homes to Arabs in the 1970s, to "Arabize" the city and the region's oil industry.

The last ethnic-breakdown census in Iraq was conducted in 1957, well before Saddam began his program to move Arabs to Kirkuk. That count showed 178,000 Kurds, 48,000 Turkomen, 43,000 Arabs and 10,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christians living in the city.