President Masoud Barzani [M], Vice President Kosrat Rasul [L] and Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim [R] attend a meeting address the people of Kirkuk on September 12, 2017 in Kirkuk. Photo: Rudaw video
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has met with some representatives of the Turkmen, Arab and Kurdish components in Kirkuk on Tuesday. He said Kirkuk should have “a special status” as part of a future independent Kurdistan.
The meeting comes as some Arab and Turkmen parties of Kirkuk have decided to boycott the Kurdish independence referendum that will also include the disputed or Kurdistani areas such as the oil-rich and multi ethnic Kirkuk.
President Barzani has said that if the Iraqi government was genuine, they would have implemented Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution that concerns the disputed areas a decade ago, Barzani's senior assistant Hemin Hawrami tweeted.
Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim, and the Kurdistan Vice President Kosrat Rasul also attended the meeting.
Barzani emphasized that the vote that is set to take place on September 25 is a natural right, and that the vote is "not [for] redrawing borders," Hawrami added.
Barzani said that only the people of Kirkuk are entitled to determine their fate, and that no one else is allowed to impose a certain status in the province.
"Kirkuk should have a special status within the independent Kurdistan based on genuine partnership," Hawrami quoted Barzani as saying.
Kurdistan envisions Kirkuk as a symbol of coexistence, Barzani told BBC’s Turkish service in an interview published on Saturday.
Asked about the possibility of a military confrontation if Kirkuk takes part, Barzani said Kurds are ready to fight to keep Kirkuk part of the Kurdistan Region.
“I hope that we are not going to be forced to wage war because of Kirkuk. We do not want that to happen,” Barzani told the BBC. “But if some people want to take Kirkuk away from Kurdistan through the use of weapons, then you will see how all the Kurds are going to be prepared for a fight for this city.”
Barzani said last month that they are ready to offer senior positions to Turkmens, Arabs, and others in Kirkuk, but stressed that the Kurdistani identity of the province is not up for debate.
“Concessions will not be made over the identity of Kirkuk,” Barzani said, promising that nobody will be able to “take Kirkuk by force” and that Kurds will fight to the last person and breathe to defend its identity.