The Iraqi flag flies in the hand of Kirkuk’s Peshmerga statue, guarding the northern gate to the city. File photo: Hiwa Hussamadin/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region --Kurdish and Iraqi leaders have agreed on the withdrawal of all Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces from Kirkuk and for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to return to the city more than a year after the October 16 events that changed the balance of power in the multiethnic city from Kurdish hands to the Iraqis.
Shakhawan Abdulla, a member of the Kirkuk Situation Normalization Committee told Rudaw that the deal had been forged much earlier in Baghdad and they will "soon take effect to clear Kirkuk from all the multiple forces present in the city."
Abdulla added that "the Hashd al-Shaabi groups are ready to help normalize the situation of Kirkuk and for the KDP to return."
He predicted that it could be a gradual withdrawal in which a large number of the forces would leave the city in the first phase.
Rawand Mala Mahmood, a PUK official in Kirkuk confirmed to Rudaw that "Some agreements have been reached."
"We have asked for Kirkuk to be treated with according to the constitution," he added.
The KDP has repeatedly refused to return its offices to Kirkuk, the province "occupied."
A recent thaw in relations between Erbil and Baghdad however might make changes in Kirkuk, too.
The new Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi has said that it is in his genda to see an end to hostilities in the disputed areas.
Mahmood believes there is the will and "serious efforts" in Baghdad to solve the Kirkuk problem.