‘Peshmerga’s return to Kirkuk will not bode well for Iraq’

Baghdad will not squander post-2017 gains by allowing KRG to regain footing in Kirkuk, says head of Iraqi Turkmen Front.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AA) – The return of Peshmerga forces to Kirkuk could lead to a new crisis in the region and pave the way for more secessionist movements that would undermine Iraq’s unity, according to the leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF).

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Monday, Hasan Turan said the ITF, which represents the Turkic-speaking minority of some 3 million in a vast area of northern Iraq, had consented to the deployment of federal Iraqi troops in Kirkuk.

He said the ITF does not want to see the Peshmerga – forces of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) who left the region in 2017 – back in the province, particularly since federal rule in Kirkuk has guaranteed safety for all ethnic groups in the area.

On the KRG’s growing recent push to reclaim territory in oil-rich Kirkuk, Turan said the group is only eyeing political power to capitalize on the soaring global oil prices.

“The Kirkuk issue concerns all Iraqis, not just us Turkmen,” he said.

He asserted that Baghdad will not squander the gains it has made in Kirkuk since 2017 by allowing the KRG to regain footing in the province.

Turan underlined that Iraq is still facing a turbulent period, with the PKK terror group still posing a threat to Kirkuk and other regions of Iraq with Turkmen populations.

– Election standoff

On recent political developments in Iraq, he said objections over the results of the Oct. 10 elections have sparked a crisis in the country.

The ITF was against the use of electronic voting machines and pushed for manual voting from the beginning, he stressed, adding that they are still hopeful that the results will be tallied transparently and announced soon.

To a question about Iraq’s next possible prime minister, Turan said the ITF will support a candidate who will not change the current status of Kirkuk and the Turkmeneli region.

He said incumbent Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has the chance to secure another term in office, but the ITF is also willing to back Haider al-Abadi, who served as premier from September 2014 to October 2018.

“He [Abadi] has the experience of being the prime minister and took positive steps for Turkmens,” said Turan.​​​​​​​


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