Kirkuk destiny vague after parliamentary elections
The disputed areas, and the city of Kirkuk in particular, have been a core concern for Arabs and Kurds, especially since the US invasion and the political restructuring in Iraq in 2003. Kurds gained territory to the south of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds consider the land historically theirs.
Disputed territories of Iraq, or Disputed Internal Kurdish-Iraqi Areas are regions that are defined by the article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution as areas being ethnically cleansed and arabized during the Baath Party rule.
Article 140 of the 2005 Iraqi constitution guaranteed to place the Disputed Areas under the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) by the end of 2007. The three phases of this process included normalization, census, and referendum.
The constitution states that displaced and uprooted Kurds will be given compensation and a chance to return to their old homes, and Arabs who were brought in by Saddam will likewise be compensated to return to their old cities and villages.
Kurds have been powerful in these provinces. They dominate and control these areas. The police directorate, security commanders, and other crucial administrative positions are currently in the hands of the Kurds. Nevertheless, the article has not been implemented fully yet.
The citizens of Kirkuk are worried about the upcoming parliamentary elections due to the illadvised struggles among the Kurdish political parties especially between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
In December 2013, six- teen Kurdish political parties decided to form a united Kurdish bloc to contest in the next parliamentary elections. But as a result of political row, the list disintegrated.
Firsat Sofi, who has PhD in law, said: "if the Kurds want to gain more power, then they should try to win a lot of votes to secure an overall majority".
“If the Kurds win 60% of the vote, their politicians can use their popular support as pressure cards in order to settle both political and legal disputes with Baghdad. But participation with different lists and blocs would leave negative impacts on the election results. Kurds' share of the vote may decrease this time,” said Sofi.
The two main Kurdish parties, instead of getting together to prepare an ambitious program about how to serve Kirkuk, they have already started fabricating accusations against each other. The members of both parties tear the opponent's posters down.
“Kirkuk has fallen victim to the struggles between the PUK and the KDP. The two parties have signed a strategic alliance pact, but now they do not care about if the elections will proceed smoothly. This means that they do not respect what they have agreed upon,” noted Jumha Adham, a Gorran Movement List candidate.
Many think that the Article 140 has not been implemented so far in Kirkuk and the other disputed territories because of the ongoing disputes between the KDP and the PUK.
If the Kurds are willing to regain control of Kirkuk, they have to think strategically and deliver an unequivocal message to all the inhabitants in the city. It looks as if it is an uphill task, but it is not an impossible one.
This picture shows elections posters for the candidates of Iraqi Parliamentray Elections.