Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen want ‘united force’ of locals defending Kirkuk: Arab Council spox

 ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A number of Kirkuk politicians discussed at meetings earlier this month the creation of a security force for the disputed province made up of locals, similar to one proposed for Shingal (Sinjar), according to a party source.

Members of Kirkuk’s Majlis al-Arabi (the Arab Council) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) met with Kirkuk Governor Rakan al-Jabouri in Baghdad’s Salam Palace, at a meeting led by Iraqi President Barham Salih on Wednesday.

“Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen all agree that there should be a united force defending Kirkuk consisting of the people of Kirkuk themselves, and we have discussed this idea in our meeting,” Hatam al-Tai, spokesperson for the Arab Council told Rudaw English on Monday.

“We have not come to an agreement, we merely discussed the situation and are hoping to reach a common solution later,” he added.

Under a security and administration deal for Shingal struck between Erbil and Baghdad in October, the federal government will have to establish a new armed force recruited from the local population and expel fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and their affiliated groups.  

The Wednesday meeting covered a variety of topics, such as the situation of Arabs from Kirkuk in the Kurdistan Region’s prisons, the opening of Kirkuk airport, the return of IDPs to their homes, according to a statement released by the Arab Council in Kirkuk.  

“We discussed the situation of Arabization, the taking over of lands in Kirkuk, the balance of power, and the employment of Kirkuk youth, and we asked for these problems to be solved,” Muhammad Osman, head of PUK office in Kirkuk told Rudaw’s Hiwa Hosammadin, on Sunday of the meeting.

Security has been a contentious issue in disputed areas like Kirkuk. The Islamic State (ISIS) group has exploited security gaps between Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga in the province, with its remaining fighters carrying out attacks against security forces and civilians.

On Thursday, ISIS weekly propaganda al-Naba newspaper claimed the group has killed and injured at least 19 security forces in Kirkuk in the past two weeks.

Source: Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen want ‘united force’ of... 

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