London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Iraqi Supreme Committee has issued a decision for the application of Article 140 of its permanent constitution, which seeks the normalization of the situation in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The decision specifies the return of the Arabs, who had come to reside in Kirkuk [as a result of the Arabization policy], to their places of origin in central and southern Iraq, in addition to providing them with financial compensation. The decision also stipulates the return of Kurdish and Turkmen employees, who had been dismissed for political reasons and who had been transferred outside of the city, to their former jobs.
These developments came following a Supreme Committee meeting that took place yesterday in Baghdad, headed by the Iraqi Minister of Justice, Hashim al Shebli. The minister described the decisions “as the most important ones issued by the committee so far.” Speaking from Baghdad in a phone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, al Shebli said that the committee has submitted the decision to the cabinet and was awaiting the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki’s ratification.
No specific time frame was announced for the implementation of these resolutions, the Iraqi minister of justice explained, “The matter is related to us insofar as passing the resolutions, as for the implementation, it belongs to the related executive bodies.”
Aside from the deportation of the Arabs living in Kirkuk back to their places of origin in central and southern regions of the country, the resolution stipulates granting them twenty million Iraqi Dinars (IQD), the equivalent of US $12,000, in addition to a plot of land where they will be relocated. According to al Shebli, the decision includes the rest of the disputed areas around Kirkuk, in addition to Sinjar and Khanaqin.
Kakarash Sidiq, member of the article 140 high commission and head of the article’s execution committee in Kirkuk, revealed to the German Press Agency that the committee has also decreed to “cancel all agricultural contracts that were formed during the Arabization campaign and to return of the land to its rightful owners.”
Parliamentarian and Deputy of the Kurdistan Alliance, Mahmoud Osman, welcomed the decision stressing that the resolution will only be implemented on the Arabs who arrived later and was not applicable to the Arabs who had originally been residing in the city, and added, “I welcome the practical and acceptable implementation of Article 140, as it will lead to the normalization of the situation in the city and therefore resolve the conflict there.” He was, however, simultaneously skeptical about the ability to implement these referendums and said, “Even if the decision has been made, I do not know how it will be implemented given the dire state in the city.”
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, MP and head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, Saad al Din Arkij, said that for his part he believes that forcing the Arabs [of the Arabization era] to leave the city and offering them financial compensation is a mistake, as they should be given the right to choose whether to stay or leave Kirkuk. Arkij added that the city’s present instability and lapse in security is an extremely grave matter, and said, “issuing a decision such as this one at a time like this will lead to a clash between the nationalities.” He accused the Kurds of attempting to change to the city’s demography and added that, “Huge numbers of Kurds who came from the provinces, and even from outside of Iraq after 2003 to settle in Kirkuk [with the intention of] changing the city’s demography,” calling for “the necessity of the normalization of Kirkuk.”
The multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk is considered one of the central controversial points between the Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs. The city has witnessed sporadic acts of violence of an ethnically related nature, the last of which was the explosion of seven cars loaded with bombs last Saturday, 3rd February, near the two major Kurdish party offices; headed by Jalal Talabani, [leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)], and the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) office, headed by political leader Massoud Barzani.