Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani has called on the United Nations to aid in arranging a referendum in Kirkuk based upon Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which regulates jurisdictional issues.
“We are calling on the United Nations to get involved in the developments in Kirkuk and other disputed regions of Iraq where we will hold a transparent referendum,” the Kurdish administration’s government website cited Barzani as saying after meeting the U.N. special envoy for Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, on June 29.
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) peshmerga forces seized control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk after the Iraqi army pulled out of the province in mid-June following a major offensive by militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution states that a referendum is to be held in Kirkuk and other disputed areas to determine into which administration the population wishes to be incorporated. Claiming that Kirkuk is Kurdish territory, Barzani said: “The Kurdish administration does not have to pay the price for Baghdad’s wrong policies. Terrorists have become a neighbor of the Kurdish region due to Baghdad’s ruined policies. But the peshmerga will continue to protect our borders.”
The Kurdish leader last week said there was no going back on autonomous Kurdish rule in Kirkuk and other towns now defended against militants by Kurdish fighters. “Now, this [issue] … is achieved,” he said, referring to Article 140.
A spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently stated that an independent Kurdish state was a reason for war in the past but that the situation had now changed.
“In Turkey, even the word ‘Kurdistan’ makes people nervous, but their name is Kurdistan,” Hüseyin Çelik told the Financial Times. “If Iraq is divided and it is inevitable, they are our brothers.
Unfortunately, the situation in Iraq is not good and it looks like [the country] is going to be divided,” he added, while cautioning that Kurdish independence was not Turkey’s “number-one choice.”