‘Only Article 140 can guarantee the future of Kirkuk’

Ahmed Askari is a member of the Kirkuk Council. He is Head of the Kirkuk security committee and a member of the projects and investment committee. He was interviewed by The Kurdistan Tribune.

KT: What has been achieved so far by the Council in Kirkuk?

Ahmed Askari: There has been the construction of two electricity stations, the roads and streets of Kirkuk have been restored with tarmac and a bridge in the centre of Kirkuk has been maintained. These are positive developments.

On the other hand there is only a partially Kurdish education system. We have a university but it does not provide teaching in Kurdish and its curriculum comes from Baghdad. It is different from universities in the KRG. There is a situation in some schools where half of the staff’s wages are paid by the KRG and the other half are paid by Baghdad.

KT: How does the Kirkuk council operate? How much cooperation is there between the Kurd, Arab and Turkoman representatives?

Ahmed Askari: The Kirkuk council comprises 41 seats. Kurds have got 26 seats, Turkomans have 9 seats and Arabs have 6 seats. The mayor of Kirkuk is Kurdish and the leader of the Council is Turkoman – his name is Hassan Toran. There are 13 committees running Kirkuk. Each committee has one issue to cover – women, schools, social system, health, housing, security, investment, economy, etc.

KT: How is the security situation?

Ahmed Askari: The overall security situation is much better, 85 per cent better, than last year. The worst violence is confined to a few areas of Kirkuk. This time the violence and terrorism is coming from inside Kirkuk, and instead of suicide attacks there is more targeting of citizens and civil servants – more kidnappings and robberies. The reason behind this is that, although according to ministerial instruction from Baghdad there is supposed to be one policeman for every 100 people in all cities of Iraq, however in reality Kirkuk has far less than this. Kirkuk is currently 3,600 policemen deficient.

KT: Who is behind the recent killings and kidnappings?

Ahmed Askari: The recent killings have all the hallmarks of activity by ex-Baathist, Arab chauvinists who want Kirkuk to be unstable. There could also be the hand of neighbouring countries, which has always been a problem in the past. Local terrorists – such as Ansar al Sunna, Naqishbandi groups, Islamic Republic of Iraq and other hardliners close to Al Qaeda – could also be involved. The main purpose is to distort the security situation in Kirkuk by any means. Unfortunately, some of the ministries in Baghdad do not want to see Article 140* implemented nor Kirkuk become stable.

KT: How do you feel about the impending US troop withdrawal?

Ahmed Askari: American withdrawal could be a disaster for all communities in Kirkuk. The terrorist groups will become more comfortable and will be emboldened by this.

KT: What does each community in Kirkuk want?

Ahmed Askari: Each community is looking to its own interests and future in Kirkuk. Each nationality needs security for their future. For example, Kurds want Kirkuk to be part of Kurdistan, Arabs in Kirkuk want Kirkuk to be part of Iraq and the Turkoman population wants Kirkuk to be an independent city for all the nationalities in Kirkuk.

KT: Tell me about the deal regarding the KRG supplying Kirkuk with electricity – how did this come about?

Ahmed Askari: There was 200 million dollars allocated for Kirkuk electricity. The Council voted to spend this much but the Ministry of Finance refused to provide all the money for this purpose. For this reason the KRG decided to lend us money to get to grips with the problem of electricity supply.

KT: What is the best solution for Kurds in Kirkuk?

Ahmed Askari: The best solution and strategy for Kirkuk is Article 140* which is part of the Iraqi constitution. Only when this article is implemented will the future of Kirkuk be guaranteed. The main immediate issue is to clarify the borders between Kirkuk and other regions. Then we need a census, which has not been conducted for a long time.The census will tell us who has come from outside Kirkuk and who belongs to Kirkuk. The people originally belonging to Kirkuk – these people should choose the destiny of Kirkuk, nobody else. If the Iraqi government has the will, then Article 140 can be implemented.

*Article 140 stipulates that: people expelled from Kirkuk and other regions during previous Arabization campaigns be allowed to return and compensated for their losses, and settlers brought in under previous regimes return to their places of origin; a census be conducted in the disputed territories; and a referendum be held to determine if the people of these areas wish to remain under Baghdad or become part of the Kurdistan Region.

© Kurdistantribune.com, terms of use

One Response to ‘Only Article 140 can guarantee the future of Kirkuk’
  1. Haval
    October 4, 2011 | 08:35

    Ahmed Askar is courageous face of Kirkuk.he born in Kirkuk and he fights for Kirkuk .Kirkuk belong to Kurds,historically this has been documented.Let us not waste our time any further with the Iraqi state and work things out ourselves with the KRG.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL https://kurdistantribune.com/only-article-can-guarantee-future-of-kirkuk/trackback/