Through a committee formed to implement the decision, the Kurdistan flag was finally raised on the government institutions, including that of Turkmen and Arab institutions. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdistan flag has been officially hoisted on all governmental buildings in Kirkuk a month after the city’s Provincial Council issued the decree, a move which was strongly opposed by the Iraqi government, neighboring countries, as well as Turkmen and Arab parties in Kirkuk.
Through a committee formed to implement the decision, the Kurdistan flag was finally raised over all government institutions, including those headed by Turkmen and Arab leaders.
Yalchin Mahdi, a Turkmen, who is head of the Power Distribution Department in Kirkuk told Rudaw that the decision is “a political subject and we are more related to services. But, we will commit to any decision issued by the administration.”
“They just came in and hoisted it,” Mhadi explained.
Falah Bazzaz, head of the Kirkuk Investment Board, where the Kurdistan flag was also raised, said “as other institutions, we are also committed to the administration and council of Kirkuk's decrees. We are bowing to the Iraq and Kurdistan flag and therefore the Kurdistan flag will remain on our building.”
The local government in Kirkuk raised the Kurdistan flag alongside the Iraqi one over the Kirkuk governorate building last month after a vote by the provincial council. Some Turkmen and Arab representatives in the Kirkuk council boycotted the vote.
Shortly afterwards, the move received praise from Kurdish leaders of all the parties, among them President Masoud Barzani who described it as "normal and legal." Some Arab and Turkmen parties have called the decision "unconstitutional."
The Provincial Council has also warned that if any institution was found to not be abiding by the decisions, it will face legal charges and punishment.
Irfan Kirkukli, who is leader of a Turkmen party and member of the security committee in Kirkuk, called on the associated parties in Kirkuk not to cause problems and raise the flag as the decision "will not be revoked."
“It is clearly stated in the Kirkuk governor’s letter that all institutions have been ordered to implement the decision. And whoever fails to abide by it will face legal charges, according to the governor’s readout.”
The controversial raising of the Kurdistan flag has stirred up heated debates among Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen in Iraq as well as neighboring countries, notably Turkey where Ankara has expressed strong opposition to it.
The multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk is home to Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen among others. It has been secured by Kurdish Peshmerga forces since mid-2014 after Iraqi government troops left the city ahead of a possible attacks by radical Islamic insurgents when they took over large swathes of the country. The province has one of Iraq’s largest oil fields within its borders.