Osamah al-Nujaifi speaking to Rudaw TV.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— The creation of a Sunni region in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains is said to be the main objective for a newly established Sunni faction which held its first meeting in Erbil Friday.
Members of the new group, called United Iraqi Party, voted unanimously for the party’s agenda to set up a second region in Iraq similar to the Kurdistan Regional administration north of the country.
“We will work for a united Iraq and a Nineveh Region in which the rights of all peoples are respected. The rights of the Sunnis must be respected too. In the recent months, over 2000 Sunni Arabs have been abducted,” said the party’s new leader Osamah Nujaifi who is also Iraq’s vice president.
Iraq’s Sunni leaders have in the past shown support for an autonomous region in Nineveh with Mosul as its capital, which they have long been championing.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has openly supported the formation of a Sunni region but Erbil also shown support for the return of Kurdish territories in Nineveh in case of a “Yes" vote at a future referendum which is hoped to determine the status of the contested territories outside KRG.
“We chose Erbil since most of the Mosul refugees are in Kurdistan Region, it would have been difficult to meet in Baghdad because of political and security issues that most of our members could face in the Iraqi capital,” said party official Khalid Mafraji.
In July last year, the Iraqi parliament endorsed a bill which would effectively empower the provincial capitals in the country in their relation to the central government in Baghdad and would grant them lawful means to create semi-independent regions with considerable political and administrative powers.
The decision was of particular importance for the Sunni population of Iraq who have long sought their own autonomous region.
“The first thing now is to focus on reconstruction of Mosul which has bee devastated by the ISIS war. And when the extreme unemployment and poverty are addressed we will then move on to set up the Nineveh Region within a federal Iraq,” said party official Ali Rubaiei.