In a brash demand from the Iraqi government, they have ordered the political parties and governing officials in Kirkuk to restructure all government posts based on ethnicity in one month’s time. The division of personnel would be a three-part split (32%) of Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds, with the remaining 4% left to Christian minorities. The move from Iraq has been met with heavy resistance by Kurdish officials who claim it is unconstitutional and an attempt to target Kurds. In a classic Kurdish political debacle, no one can seem to agree on what will be best for not just the city, but for the region as a whole.
Chief operator of the PUK’s (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) Kirkuk office, Jamal Shukr, told local media, “According to the constitution, something cannot be imposed on us from Baghdad for us to implement. Concerning the 32 percent [division of governmental posts], we accept it only when it is from top to bottom.” He spoke in reference to the newly formed Iraqi constitution, put into place in 2005, giving Kirkuk special status. Shukr went on to submit that Kurdish employees currently made up less than ten percent of government staff for the region.
Jalal Talabani, who was the recent head of the PUK and died in 2017, proposed the 32% in an effort to create a diverse province that would be unified through coexistence. Many Kurds are advocating that the division should include all government positions and not just positions of authority.
Head of Kurdistan Communist Party’s Kirkuk office, Sheikh Sadiq, stated, “It cannot be expected for Baghdad to take any step at this time to resolve either the Kirkuk [issue] or the issues facing the Kurdistan Region. We believe that it is necessary for Kurds to organize themselves.” He added that it was not ideal that none of the Kurdish political parties had met to discuss the situation and that not much could be done without the KDP’s (Kurdish Diplomatic Party) involvement.
After Iraqi and Iranian backed forces began their occupation of Kirkuk, many of the KDP offices were occupied or destroyed. The KDP will not be running for elections in Kirkuk, claiming that it would be pointless to do so considering the city was occupied by its adversaries. Spokesperson for the KDP’s leadership council for Kirkuk, Adnan Kirkuki, said, “Baghdad wants to impose a de facto because we have heard Baghdad announcing that if we do not reach a settlement then they will come and divide [the posts themselves]. Let them divide them, but no one will recognize that.”
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.