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Kirkuk Flags Unify Kurds, Turkey Says they are a ‘Huge Mistake’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Karim raises the Iraqi flag to fly next to the Kurdish flag over a government building in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Photo: AFP/Mariwan Ibrahim

Irbil, Baghdad- Turkey on Sunday became part of the crisis that emerged after a decision to fly the Kurdish flag over public buildings and institutions in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said he contacted his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi to discuss the issue.

“We do not accept a fait accompli. We think a decision like this, which aims to change the demographic makeup of Kirkuk is not the right thing to do.”

Yildirim told Abadi that flying the Kurdish flag was a “huge mistake.”

Meanwhile, the two main political parties in Kirkuk joined hands to confront Baghdad on this issue.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by President Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal Talabani, met on Sunday in Irbil and agreed to form a joint committee that is expected to announce a date for a referendum on establishing a new Kurdish state.

They also asserted that the Kurdish flag would not be taken down from Kirkuk.

“Kurdistan has a right to raise its flag in this district, similar to the Iraqi government that is allowed to have a flag in Kirkuk,” the two parties said.

They decided to “work together seriously” on this issue for being a matter of national importance, a statement issued following their meeting said.

The meeting of the two political parties came in response to a parliamentary decree to remove the Kurdish flag from all state buildings in Kirkuk.

Meanwhile, the Sunni al-Jabouri Arab tribe in Kirkuk dissociated itself from Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri for supporting the decree to remove the Kurdish flag from Kirkuk.

Head of al-Jabouri tribe Sheikh Masrour al-Jabouri told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We support raising the Kurdish flag in our district and we are proud of this flag that stood in the face of the terrorist ISIS group” and under which the Peshmerga forces made sacrifices to protect the safety of Kirkuk.