It is still a major point of contention between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. It is the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk, which is the fifth largest city in the country in terms of population and is 240 km from the central capital to the north.

The story began in 2005, when the new Iraqi constitution was approved, and Article 140 of it stipulated that a referendum be held for the population in areas that the Kurds believe have a Kurdish majority in many provinces such as Nineveh, Salah al-Din, Diyala, and Kirkuk, which is the most important.

Kirkuk abounds in oil fields, which strengthened its economic position (Reuters)

An ongoing crisis

Although - since the US invasion in 2003 - 7 governments with full powers were formed in Iraq, the political parties did not succeed in reaching a solution to this dilemma, which was recently talked about when Minister of Justice Khaled Shawani announced, on November 28, the approval of the prime minister. Muhammad Shayaa al-Sudani on re-forming the Supreme Committee to activate Article 140 of the constitution related to the disputed areas, which sparked widespread controversy and reached the extent of warning some of a civil war in the event of proceeding with the procedures, especially in Kirkuk.

The Kurds are calling for the annexation of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan region based on the fact that the city has a Kurdish majority, but during the period of the previous regime (pre-2003) it was subjected to demographic changes in the seventies and eighties of the last century, represented by the displacement of Arab families from the south and the center to it, which led to a demographic change in favor of The Arab component at the expense of the Kurdish.

Noah: About a third of what the Kurdistan region exports of oil for its own account comes from fields administratively affiliated to Kirkuk Governorate (Al-Jazeera Net)

Kirkuk importance

With regard to the importance of Kirkuk to the Kurds, Kurdish journalist Saman Noah believes that Kirkuk was important to the Kurds, but its importance increased after the Kurdistan region discovered in recent years that the region's oil fields are not promising with its reserves, indicating that about a third of what Kurdistan exports of oil for its account comes from Oil fields administratively belonging to the province of Kirkuk.

He added: If the Kurds lose the struggle to annex the city, it will be a great economic loss and a setback for national projects that have lasted for decades, and formed one of the most important axes of the Kurdish national discourse.

And confirms what Noah went to, the statements of the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani, who confirmed, on Tuesday, his government's efforts to diversify sources of income, adding that there will be no oil in the future, commenting in a local press interview, "We have to rely on agriculture, and if we develop this sector, there will be no A threat to the food security of Kurdistan, in any country, agriculture is the basis for a strong economy.

Rikani believes that the Iraqi government's failure to activate Article 140 threatens its future (Al-Jazeera Net)

Political concerns

In the meantime, the decision to form a committee - which was suspended in 2014 - revived fears that it would cause a rift in the political situation again between Baghdad and the region, especially since it is a central point of contention between the two parties, in addition to the possible return of political differences, especially since the Minister of Construction and Housing In the federal government and a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Bankin Rikani, had confirmed that the agreement to reactivate the committee concerned with forming the article was within the agreement of all the signatory forces on the document establishing the State Administration Coalition during the political understandings that led to the formation of the Sudanese government.

In a previous interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Rikani stressed that failure to adhere to these pledges makes each political party loose from its obligations, which threatens the future of the current government that came after a difficult political labor that lasted more than a year after the last elections in October 2021.

hint of internationalization

As for the Kurdish position on the part of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, it was expressed by a member of the Federal Parliament, Jay Taymur - who considered that the non-application of Article 140 is a breach of political agreements and a breach of promises - which may push the Kurds to request internationalization of the issue and international arbitration, pointing out at the same time that The chances of implementing the article will remain weak in light of the current circumstances and the prevailing political mentality.

And Timur indicated - in a previous interview with Al-Jazeera Net - that the issue of Kirkuk represents a sensitive issue and a time bomb between the region and Baghdad, as it is liable to explode at any moment, so all parties must strive to find a just and implementable solution from a sincere national spirit far from sectarian and nationalist bias. And to do justice to those who were subjected to discrimination by previous governments, as he put it.

Meanwhile, the head of the Center for Political Thinking, Ihsan Al-Shammari, believes that - despite the inclusion of Article 140 in the state administration alliance agreements to form the government - some parties may evade its application, which makes it very difficult to implement this article, pointing out that the issue of demanding the application of the article serves the party The Kurdistan Democratic Party to reduce the repercussions of the referendum on the secession of the Kurdistan region from Iraq in 2017, as he put it.

The press conference of the head of the Turkmen Front, Hassan Turan, with representatives of the Turkmen parties a few days ago (Iraqi Press)

Warning of civil war

Kirkuk Governorate is considered a miniature Iraq, as it includes 4 administrative districts, namely Kirkuk, Hawija, Daquq, and Dibis. breeze.

As for the number of residents of the components inhabiting the governorate, he confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that the ministry does not have information about the size of the components of the governorate, whether they are Arabs, Kurds or Turkmen.

A few days after the news of the activation of the Disputed Areas Committee, warnings emerged of the outbreak of a civil war in Kirkuk in the event of its annexation to the Kurdistan region, as a group of Turkmen deputies warned in a press conference that proceeding with the procedures of Article 140 may lead to a civil war in the province.

These warnings came from the words of the head of the Turkmen Front, Hassan Turan, who said during a press conference in Kirkuk last Saturday in Baghdad, "What was circulated by some officials about reviving Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which was referred to in the government program with the complicity of everyone and the absence of the Turkmen, the position of the Turkmen What is clear is that this article fails to find sustainable, peaceful solutions to the issue of Kirkuk."

Turan inferred during his press conference, saying, "The report of the United Nations Mission on this article has indicated clearly that the paragraphs contained in this article, such as the referendum, may be a reason for igniting civil war between the components of Kirkuk," according to the text of the statement.

Al-Salihi: Article 140 failed to find solutions and its application will lead to catastrophic results in Kirkuk (Al-Jazeera Net)

Disastrous results

As for the Turkmen MP and former head of the Turkmen Front, Arshad al-Salihi, he stressed that the dominance of any party over another in Kirkuk will lead to unrealistic results, which does not reflect the current social situation in the province.

And he believes - in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net - that Article 140 has failed to find solutions since its approval, pointing out that its application without consultation with the Turkmen will lead to dissatisfaction of the Turkmen and Arabs, expressing his fear that the results of the application of this article will be disastrous for the province.

And he continued - in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net - that the measures that the Turkmen may take in this regard are based on the decision of the House of Representatives in 2017 and that the files of security and power in the province belong to the federal government, warning that there is a proposal that has the approval of the Turkmen and Arabs in Kirkuk, that there be a special federal for Kirkuk without joining For any province, according to him.

Al-Tamimi: The implementation of Article 140 requires procedures, including normalization, referendum, and determining the will of the voters (Al-Jazeera Net)


Article 140 of the Constitution cannot be applied without proceeding with the procedures stipulated therein, which is confirmed by legal expert Ali Al-Tamimi, as he believes that Federal Court Decision 71 of 2019 affirmed the survival of Article 140 of the Constitution and the need to implement it through normalization, referendum, and determining the will of the voters.

In his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, Al-Tamimi explained that normalization means returning the deportees, choosing the arrivals, and compensating those affected, as the compensation was estimated at 3 billion dollars, pointing out that drawing borders is very important, commenting, "The areas covered by this article must be specified, whether in Mosul or Kirkuk, and whether they are applied." On parts of it or all of it, and whether the 1968 borders are approved or not, all of this is determined by a decision of the Council of Ministers.

He explained that the population census is very important before proceeding with the implementation of the constitutional article, as it will determine the people who are entitled to vote, in addition to the need to determine this through agreement on previous population statistics and which of them will be adopted to implement the constitutional article, which requires Parliament to determine this accurately through Law approved by the House of Representatives.

And goes in this direction, the Kurdish journalist Saman Noah, who believes that - and in the absence of any referendum that determines the size of the percentage of each component in Kirkuk governorate - the debate continues regarding its identity and fate, adding that according to the recent electoral results, the Kurds constitute a majority in it, but it is not decisive , while the Arabs constitute the second largest component, and with the Turkmen they will form a kind of balance against the Kurds.

In his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Noah explained that the Arab and Turkmen components agree to prevent the province's annexation of the Kurdistan region, and even warn that restoring Kurdish military control over it or proceeding with any option that decides its fate in favor of the Kurds will open the door to a national conflict in the city, according to him.

Not only that, as he believes that what increases the chances of the failure of any settlement regarding Kirkuk is the situation of the Kurds today, in which their leaders no longer have the strength they had between 2003 and 2013, as they have become divided and conflicted inside and outside the region, and they do not have a unified vision or Common working tools, as he put it.

Al-Shammari confirms that the issue of Kirkuk cannot be separated from the regional dimension represented by Turkey and Iran (Al-Jazeera Net)

Territorial rejection

As for the regional position, Noah believes that Iran should keep Kirkuk under the federal government to prevent the expansion of the Kurdistan region, which applies to Turkey, which - although it enjoys good relations with the Democratic Party that actually leads the Kurdistan region - strongly refuses to hand over the province to the Kurds.

In this direction, Ihsan Al-Shammari goes - in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net - adding that the issue of Kirkuk cannot be separated from the regional dimension represented by Turkey and Iran, as he believes that these two countries will not allow the Kurdistan region to turn into a state including Kirkuk, regardless of the level of the region's relationship with these two countries, Pointing out that Turkey had hinted that the annexation of Kirkuk to the region is not allowed.