Will yet another elec­toral term in 2014 lead to any real change on Kirkuk and ar­ti­cle 140?

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

The Kirkuk has been at the his­toric fore­front of the Kur­dish na­tion­al­ist strug­gle. It has been an area of con­tention for decades and formed a red-line for Kur­dish ne­go­ti­a­tions with Baathist regime long be­fore the lib­er­a­tion of Iraq in 2003.

Res­o­lu­tion of Kirkuk and dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries was a firm Kur­dish con­di­tion since 2003, en­shrined even in the Tran­si­tive Ad­min­is­tra­tive Law (TAL), be­fore the on­set of the of­fi­cial con­sti­tu­tion in 2005.

It has then served as the ba­sis for ne­go­ti­a­tions with coali­tion part­ners in Bagh­dad in 2003, 2006, 2010 and more than likely in 2014.

Ap­proach­ing six years since the pass­ing of the dead­line for Ar­ti­cle 140, is Kirkuk any closer to­day to for­mal res­o­lu­tion and a re­turn to Kur­dis­tan than it was in 2003 (or in­deed un­der the Sad­dam regime)?

The lack of progress in ar­ti­cle 140, in­clud­ing the all-im­por­tant na­tional cen­sus is hardly an ac­ci­dent. The in­ten­tional foot-drag­ging is clear to see. Ahead of ne­go­ti­a­tions to form a coali­tion gov­ern­ment in 2014, Kirkuk will once again be a key Kur­dish stip­u­la­tion. But will the new par­lia­men­tary term in 2014 wit­ness any­thing dif­fer­ent with re­gards to this is­sue?

The re­al­ity is that Bagh­dad will not give up Kirkuk or any ad­di­tional ter­ri­tory that eas­ily.

It is no co­in­ci­dence that as soon as the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) an­nounced oil pipe­lines to Tur­key much to the ire of Bagh­dad, Iraqi Oil Min­is­ter Ab­delka­rim al-Luaybi was roam­ing the Kirkuk prov­ince with BP CEO Bob Dud­ley as part of a re­cent deal be­tween Bagh­dad and the oil gi­ant to re­vive Kirkuk’s de­clin­ing oil fields.

KRG re­it­er­ated their ob­jec­tion to the deal which it deemed against the prin­ci­ples of the un­con­sti­tu­tional and il­le­gal.

Yet, in what has be­come a tit-for-tat, Bagh­dad also deemed Kur­dish deal with for­eign oil firms as il­le­gal and had raised warn­ings over the new oil pipe­lines which in­creased the notches in the Kur­dish au­ton­o­mous drive.

Kirkuk sits atop of bil­lions of bar­rels of oil re­serves which have only added to the in­ten­sity of the fight over the prov­ince.

Bagh­dad’s move with BP, which had by­passed the KRG, is de­signed to show au­thor­ity over dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries. This is sim­i­lar to the on­set of the Di­jla (Ti­gris) Op­er­a­tions Com­mand by Iraqi Prime Min­istry Nouri al-Ma­liki in 2012 de­signed to mark Bagh­dad’s sphere of in­flu­ence, lead­ing to dan­ger­ous es­ca­la­tions be­tween Er­bil and Bagh­dad.

The res­o­lu­tion of dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries is one of many un­re­solved and hotly-con­tested ar­ti­cles. Many other items such as the sta­tus of Pesh­merga forces and a na­tional hy­dro­car­bon law linger much in the same shape as 2007.

Bagh­dad has sought to ad­dress the power bal­ance in Kirkuk with elec­toral law whilst pro­vin­cial elec­tions have not been held since 2005.

But Kirkuk does not need short-term fixes or a coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tion done on a spe­cial ba­sis. The so­lu­tion is al­ready there – ar­ti­cle 140. Af­ter that proper elec­tions can be held like any other city.

The more that Kirkuk is treated as a spe­cial case – the more ex­cuses that ar­gue against ar­ti­cle 140.

Mo­sul is also a mixed city, but where are spe­cial laws and eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of seats? The elec­tions do the talk­ing, as should be the case any­where else in Iraq or as in any demo­cratic coun­try.

The same round-robin sce­nario prom­ises to play out in the af­ter­math of the elec­tions in 2014. Kurds play a hard-bar­gain, make clear con­di­tions for their sup­port and the Shi­ite pow­ers agree. Yet soon af­ter, a game of cat and mouse plays out for yet another 4 years.

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