Article 140 of Iraq's Constitution is rather straightforward on oil-rich Kirkuk:
The responsibility placed upon the executive branch of the Iraqi Transitional Government stipulated in Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law shall extend and continue to the executive authority elected in accordance with this Constitution, provided that it accomplishes completely (normalization and census and concludes with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citizens), by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007.
December 2007 has long come and gone so, of course, the Kirkuk issue was long ago settled, right?
In 2014, NIQASH offered Haywa Ridha's "The Elephant At The Negotiating Table As Kurds and Iraqis Reach Oil Deal" which opened:
In early December authorities in the semi-autonomous, northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan signed a deal with the federal Iraqi government in Baghdad. In return for a daily shipment of 250,000 barrels of oil from fields inside Iraqi Kurdistan and 300,000 barrels from the disputed territory of Kirkuk, currently held by Iraqi Kurdish military forces, the Iraqi federal government will pay the semi-autonomous region the 17 percent of the federal budget that is due to it.
For some time now the money due to be paid to Iraqi Kurdistan has been withheld, leading Iraqi Kurdish politicians to describe it as a “financial blockade” by Baghdad. The blockade has had serious consequences for the Iraqi Kurdish region’s economy.
Both parties were quick to celebrate their deal, a thorn in both governments’ sides for some time now. However, as observers were quick to note, while authorities gladly spoke about oil and money, there was absolutely no mention of another of the two parties’ most contentious issues: Article 140.
Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution is supposed to deal with the country’s disputed territories – that is, land that Iraqi Kurdistan says is part of its quasi-independent region but which Baghdad says belongs to Iraq proper. This includes the much disputed area of Kirkuk. Article 140 outlines a series of steps that should be taken in order to resolve who exactly the disputed territories belong to – these are, firstly, normalization - a return of Kurds and other residents displaced by Arabisation – followed by a census taken to determine the demographic makeup of the province's population and then finally, a referendum to determine the status of disputed territories. Obviously whether a territory is home to mainly Kurds or mainly Arabs will have an effect on who can lay claim to the area.
The issue of who has claim to Kirkuk remains unresolved.
Holding referendum on independence is “not risk-free” and will test the water regarding reactions from other countries before the Kurdish leadership decides on declaring an independent Kurdistan, a senior Kurdish politician and former Iraqi Foreign Minister told Rudaw Sunday night, as he revealed that the issue has been discussed with all permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Hoshyar Zebari, who is a senior member of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and longest serving Iraqi FM since the fall of the former Iraqi regime 14 years ago, made the remarks in light of the Sunday high-level meeting between the Kurdish leaders and representatives of foreign missions in Erbil on the same day, including from Iran and Turkey who have already expressed their objections to the referendum.
Zebari said that the meeting was “successful” with the foreign diplomats who came from some 33 countries.
Kamal Chomani (AL-MONITOR) interviews the Kurdistan Communities Union's Cemil Bayik.
Al-Monitor: The PKK has not responded as before, neither militarily nor through mobilizing the masses against the arrest of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leaders and the destruction of Kurdish villages and cities. Does it mean the PKK has lost credibility with the people? Why?
Bayik: The aim of the government's decision to wage the war on us was to suppress the Kurdish movement for freedom. Unfortunately, the Turkish state is using the most lethal methods in this war. One can gain firsthand knowledge by referring to the February report of the UN Human Rights Commission, which was covered by numerous international media outlets. It clearly points to a mass destruction of cities and the use of excessive force. These are facts that are unfortunately ignored by the world.
The PKK has not lost credibility with the masses. In fact, there are continuous breaks from the state. The state attempted to prepare alternative movements during its war to turn away our supporters from us, but people who break away from the state don't join those organizations. Those movements have not shown any results, which is a clear indication that the masses continue to support our movement for freedom.
Al-Monitor: How will the PKK respond if the "Yes" campaign wins the Turkish constitutional referendum?
Bayik: We will support any constitution that allows more freedom and strengthens democracy, which is our criterion to support constitutional changes. The draft constitution, if approved, will take Turkey in a completely opposite direction, which will benefit neither Kurds nor Turks. Therefore, if the referendum does not pass, it will halt the hegemonic trend, benefit Turkey's democratization and could create new opportunities for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem, for which we have repeatedly called but the Turkish government refuses to commit. However, if the "Yes" campaign wins the referendum, we believe the war — which was resumed on July 24, 2015 — will intensify. After the failed coup last year, the state of emergency was declared, which is nothing new. We saw the same development after the 1980 coup. We have been engaged in our struggle for 45 years, and various governments of Turkey have failed to suppress our movement.
A mortar attack to the northeast of Baquba left four people injured while a roadside bombing south of Baghdad claimed the life of a teacher are only two of today's many reported incidents of violence.
Kat's "Kat's Korner: Conor Oberst's Greetings and SALUTATIONS" went up earlier tonight.
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