Iraqi security forces man a checkpoint in the northern city of Kirkuk. AFP/Marwan Ibrahim
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kirkuk acting Governor Rakan Saeed al-Jabouri, has signed an executive order for more than 80 mostly-Shiite Arab families to be settled in Shanagha, a Kurdish village in the province.
An official notice to the federal police in Kirkuk on October 23 and seen by Rudaw English on Wednesday authorized the settlement of 81 Arab households in Shanagha.
Jabouri claims they are the residents of the village, and their names are on the population records of Dubiz (or Dibis) and Sargaran districts.
Shanagha belongs to the sub-district of Sargaran, in Dubiz. Recently, Sargaran has faced a large influx of Arabs from elsewhere as well.
Jabbar Hamad Abdullah, the chieftain of the village, said the 81 households are Shiites from central and southern Iraq. They are to be settled in the village following the Arabaeen vigil. Makeshift houses have already been set up for them.
“We have no authority. We haven’t had anyone since October 16 events, but these Arabs have security forces and Hashd al-Shaabi supporting them,” Abdullah added.
He called on Kurdish MPs and officials of the KRG to come to their aid and resolve the issue.
"The Kirkuk interim governor must be summoned to the parliament and investigated over the constitutional violations he has made," said Luqman Hussein, Sargaran mayor, later in the day.
He called the city lawless.
"Kirkuk is an invaded city and has been militarized. The imposed governor never consults with the provincial council for any decisions he is taking," said Hussein.
He believes the problem is institutionalized to the level of forging official documents.
"Since October 16, the Arabization of Kirkuk has resumed including allowing Arabs to return to Kirkuk, changing local officials and issuing residence permit and changing their places of origin[ from other places to Kirkuk] on their civil IDs."
The order was preceded by another directive by the director of Kirkuk’s agricultural department, which told Kurdish villagers to stop cultivating their lands for a year in Sargaran.
The land of the village belongs to Kurds, but many of them were forcibly displaced in 1975 during Iraq’s Arabization process. After 2003, the Arabs and Kurds left for areas elsewhere, as the original Kurdish residents returned.
Since the events of October 2017, Kurds particularly in southern Kirkuk have decried of another wave of Arabization.
Bashir Haddad, the second deputy speaker for Iraqi parliament and from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said starting on October 16, 2017, unconstitutional and illegal things have occurred.
Jabouri was appointed governor of Kirkuk after the Iraqi parliament signed off on a decree by then PM Haider al-Abadi. Per the Iraq constitution, only the Kirkuk Provincial Council can select the governor.
Local Kurds would like to see the return of the Peshmerga and other Kurdish security forces to the disputed areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad. They cite an uptick by ISIS remnants and gangs in killings, kidnappings, and robberies.
Kirkuk is oil-rich and diverse. During the ISIS conflict, Peshmerga largely protected the city from falling to the extremists.
Updated at 2:03 p.m.