Kirkuk council decision to wave Kurdish flag triggers reaction
KIRKUKA city council in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk has approved raising the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) flag over official buildings, receiving protests from Turkmen and Arab members of the council.
Both Turkey and the United Nations had expressed their concerns over such a move.
Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Eşret Salihi said hanging KRG flags on official buildings was not legal and that it would “lead to chaos.”
“This will be sedition against brotherhood. DAESH from one side and Governor Najmadin Kareem from another side are playing games on Turkmen geography” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“The Kirkuk Governorate’s request from the Kirkuk Provincial Council for a motion to raise the KRG flag beside the flag of Iraq on official buildings is disconcerting,” said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu in a written statement on March 19.
The ministry recalled that the Iraqi constitution determined the process about disputed local administrative borders.
“Before putting this process into practice, taking one-sided decisions on Kirkuk’s status may harm the efforts of stability and consensus-building in Iraq,” the statement said.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) also said it was concerned by the recent decision of the governor of Kirkuk.
UNAMI stated on March 21 that it “notes that the government of Iraq has clarified that under the constitution Kirkuk falls under the jurisdiction of the central government and that no flag should be raised in the governorate other than the Iraqi flag.”
There are nine Turkmen and 6 Arab representatives in the 41-member Kirkuk provincial council.