According to Turkmen leader Hassan Turan, the Kurdish Peshmerga military forces must remain within the autonomous Kurdistan region’s borders and sending them back to Kirkuk would be “unconstitutional.” Turan, who is the Turkmen Front’s deputy head for Kirkuk, stated that, “The reason for our refusal to allow a Peshmerga return to the province of Kirkuk is because Article 121 stipulates that the Peshmerga are the guards of the region.” he added that the Kurdish soldiers “shouldn’t have a presence outside the borders of the Kurdistan Region.” In the absence of the Kurdish Peshmerga, Turan proposed that a multi-ethnic force protect Kirkuk.
The Peshmerga were the only military forces to hold their ground in 2014 when the Islamic State swept through Iraq. This held true in Kirkuk especially; when the Iraq Army fled the region, the Kurds stood their ground and stopped the Islamic States’ progress cold. The Peshmerga maintained the region’s security until October 2017, when the Iraqi central government sent the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary (who have close ties to the Turkmen Front) forces into the city to take over. Since that time, Kirkuk’s security has rapidly deteriorated with ISIS sleeper cells carrying out attacks with an increasing frequency.
Turan managed to speak highly of the Peshmerga in this regard though, praising the Kurds ability to safeguard the region. He stressed the need for both groups to meet and begin a dialogue over the region’s situation to stabilize the political and security concerns. Turan stated that, “We proposed dialogue multiple times, but unfortunately, the Kurdish leadership was the one rejecting dialogue prior to October 16.” To this effect, he claimed that anything that did not involve the Turkmen would be viewed as a “failure.” Turan said that “serious dialogue” between the various factions to achieve “sustainable solutions, joint administration, and consensus-based solutions” was the only option.
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