The New Anatolian / Erbil-Kirkuk
05 June 2007
Kurdish leaders say they are against any delays in the proposed referendum for the future of Kirkuk and are "totally opposed to the moves of some forces in Baghdad to change article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution" that would eventually bring the province under the jurisdiction of the Kurds.
Prime Minister Necirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government here told the regional Parliament in a special session on Kirkuk that there are still pressures for an amendment on article 140 and on the oil law that would give the Kurds secure revenues.
He said the formalities and administrative process in Baghdad is going too slow and thus this is creating delays. However, he stressed the referendum on Kirkuk should be held without any delays at the end of the year as article 140 requires.
He said any delay will create serious complications.He also said there are forces in Baghdad that want to amend article 140 but that the Kurds are against this. He said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supports the Kurdish view that the referendum should take place.
The New Anatolian has learnt that the Sunni Arabs want substantial changes in article 140 and some Shiite lawmakers are also supporting them. There is also talk that the Americans have also started to se a delay in the referendum may become inevitable because of technical reasons.
The issue was reportedly discussed between President George W. Bush and his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani last Kurds see pressures mounting on Kirkuk week.
Bush reportedly informed the Iraqi leader of the growing international pressures in Europe and among the Sunni Arab states friendly to Washington for a delay.
Observers say the population census that is required by article 140 may not be held in late June and July because no serious preparations have been made.
Meanwhile, half of the Arab families who were moved into the province by the Saddam regime during the Arabization campaign have reportedly registered with the authorities to go back to their old provinces.
Kurdish State Minister Dr. Muhammad Ihsan told the regional parliament that he had completed work on the Arabization campaign and has determined that 5,677 land deeds which have been taken from Kurds and Turkmens by force and given to Arabs will now return to their rightful owners.
He also said there is work in progress for the demarcation of the provincial borders of Kirkuk which were ruined by Saddam.
Necirvan Barzani told the Parliament that his recent trip to Baghdad showed that there are still problems in the oil law. He said the Kurds want the automatic transfer of the oil revenues to the Kurdish budget and are pushing for legal arrangements.
He said the demands of the Kurds on Kirkuk are for everyone living in the Kurdish region including the Turkmens.
At a press conference later regional Parliament Speaker Adnan Mufti said Turkmens are the second nation in the Kurdistan region after Kurds. The said their contributions to the development and democratization of the region have been valuable.
Barzani also told the press conference that the Kurds see the recent troop movements inside Turkey as an internal matter of Turkey and do not feel threatened. He said there has been no border violation by Turkey.