An Iraqi governmental decree permitting Arab families to move onto Kirkuk provincial lands owned by Turkmen and Kurdish citizens has been delayed by the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture after an official inquiry was made. The order came down after a delegation of Kurdish and Turkmen officials from Kirkuk visited Baghdad to discuss the situation with Falah Hassan al-Zidan, Iraq’s minister of agriculture. Rebwar Taha, who is a Minister of Parliament for Kirkuk, told local media that, “In our meeting with the agriculture minister, we explained the matter and he agreed to put the decree on hold.”

Kurdish Peshmerga military forces left the Kirkuk region on Oct. 16, 2017; this was due to a large scale incursion by Iraq’s paramilitary forces known as the Hashd al-Shaabi. After the transition of power 250,000 acres of property owned by Turkmen and Kurds were opened to Arab migrants shortly after that based on a decree announced by the acting governor of Kirkuk, Rakan Saed al-Jabouri. Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture has started a committee to assess the implementation of the decree before anything is actually finalized. The ministry has pledged to annul the decree entirely if a consensus is not established. Iraqi Ministry Agriculture spokesman Hamid Idel Naif stated to local media that, “The committee is comprised of the Kirkuk Agriculture and Lands Department and the disputed landowners. The aim of the committee is to return the land to its owners after evaluations are concluded.”

This migration is reminiscent of the Saddam era Iraqi regime; the dictator did the same in the 1980s when he pushed Arab settlers into the disputed Kirkuk region. In 2003 the territory was reclaimed by the original occupants. The Arab migrant settlers were reimbursed a grand sum of 20 million Iraqi dinars in accordance with the Iraqi constitution’s article 140. The Kurds reclaimed more of the territory and then some after they pushed back the Islamic State in 2015-2017.

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