The Kurdish flag being raised in Kirkuk on Monday. Photo: Rudaw video
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdish flag has been officially raised by the provincial government alongside the Iraqi one in the province of Kirkuk.
“Today, the Kurdish flag will be raised alongside the Iraqi flag,” Kirkuk governor Najmaldin Karim said on Monday during a Newroz event.
“Kurdistan’s flag is not only the flag of the Kurds. It is the flag of all the social makeup of Kirkuk. We tell those who want to instigate chaos: this flag is that of the Arabs and Turkmen, as well as the Kurds. It is the flag of Kurdistan which is a place for everyone.”
“Kirkuk has always proved to be united against ISIS and all other terrorists,” Karim added.
The flag was raised at Kirkuk’s castle. This is the first time the Kurdish flag has been raised at the castle by a government official.
Karim announced last week that Kurdish language would be used together with Arabic in all official provincial communication and the Kurdish flag would be flown at provincial government institutions, as permitted in the Iraqi constitution.
According to Article 4 of the Iraqi constitution, “Each region or governorate may adopt any other local language as an additional official language if the majority of its population so decides in a general referendum.”
The Iraqi prime minister’s office is of the opinion that Kirkuk does not have the authority to raise the Kurdish flag.
“The constitution has clearly stipulated the powers of provincial governments and those of the federal government in Baghdad. The powers of governorates which belong to no region are also specified. Kirkuk is one of these governorates,” Saad Adisi, spokesperson for the prime minister’s office, told Rudaw.
“Thus far, these regions are under the authority of the federal government. Hence, in places outside the Kurdistan Region, no other flag should be raised on institutions other than the Iraqi flag. This is vested with the federal government alone. Kirkuk is within the framework of these governorates, and it should commit to raising the Iraqi flag only,” he said.
Adisi also hinted that Turkey, which has commented on the issue, should not become involved.
“This is an internal matter which has nothing to do with other countries,” he said.
The multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk is home to Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen among others. Ankara, which frequently comments on affairs it believes affect Iraq’s Turkmen population, condemned the flying of the Kurdish flag.
Spokesperson for Turkey’s foreign ministry, Huseyin Muftuoglu, said that such unilateral actions “will harm reconciliation efforts and destabilize and endanger Iraq.”
Kirkuk has been secured by Kurdish Peshmerga forces since mid-2014 after Iraqi government troops left the city ahead of a possible attack 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.