Kurdish and Iraqi flags flying in Kirkuk.
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – Turkmen parties running governmental buildings in Kirkuk have not yet abided by a decree issued by the city’s Provincial Council to hoist the Kurdistan flag on the offices, instead they have raised theirs.
The Kirkuk Provincial Council sent a final warning to those not willing to raise the Kurdistan flag.
“This is a decision made by the Provincial Council and all the institutions must be obliged to execute the decree,” said an official, warning Turkmen parties dominating some institutions “to raise the Kurdistan flag as it has become an official flag of the city.”
He vowed that, if the Turkmen parties persist in ignoring the warnings, “we will go there ourselves and raise it.”
The Turkmen Front, which has nine seats in the Provincial Council and representatives from the city to the Iraqi parliament, is at odds with Kurds not only over the flag, but also over elections and the future of the city.
“In our last congress in Baghdad we reiterated that the Kirkuk situation has to be normalized,” Mohammed Saman, a Turkmen Front official told Rudaw, adding they also discussed “revising the voters’ registration mechanisms.”
The Provincial Council had repeatedly warned that if any institution was found to not be abiding by its decisions, it will face legal charges and punishment.
The local government in Kirkuk raised the Kurdistan flag alongside the Iraqi one over the Kirkuk governorate building in April after a vote by the Provincial Council. Some Turkmen and Arab representatives in the Kirkuk council boycotted the vote.
Shortly afterwards, the move was hailed by leaders of all the Kurdish parties, among them President Masoud Barzani who described it as "normal and legal." Some Arab and Turkmen parties have called the decision "unconstitutional."
The controversial raising of the Kurdistan flag 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 attack by ISIS when they took over large swathes of the country. The province has one of Iraq’s largest oil fields within its borders.