The US plan for Kirkuk, the deal between PUK and KDP
The military aspect of the plan is to resolve the issues of Kirkuk’s security and the Hashd al Shaabi and army forces in the city center.
The plan proposed by the US in the Baghdad meeting for the solution of the Kirkuk issue is being implemented step by step. Military steps have been taken and the first agreements have been made in the administrative plan.
The US plan prepared with Baghdad and Hewler administrations and representatives from Kirkuk encompasses matters of politics, economy and security and it includes the re-participation of Kurdish political powers in the city’s administration.
FIRST STEP IN THE PLAN
The first step of the plan was the military. The military aspect of the plan is to resolve the issues of Kirkuk’s security and the Hashd al Shaabi and army forces in the city center.
The proposed solution is to have the federal police ensure security in Kirkuk’s city center, the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga take over the outside defense of the city, and all will be supervised by an operations center made up of US, Iraqi and Regional Administration special forces. In accordance with this agreement, the first step was taken when the Special Operations units under the Iraqi Army’s 61th battalion on January 31.
A meeting was held on February 4 in Hewler with a committee from the Iraqi army command and the defense ministry and a committee from the peshmerga forces and peshmerga ministry as part of the second step of the plan the US proposed.
In the Bashur (Southern Kurdistan) regional government committee there was Kerim Sincari who is the Interior Minister and proxy Peshmerga Minister in the regional administration, Peshmerga Commander Faruk Cemal, Peshmerga Chief of Staff Brigadier General Cabbar Yaver and several other officials were present in the meeting.
The Iraqi committee was made up of Brigadier General Abdulamir Rashid Yarallah and the Iraqi Chief of Staff’s Deputy for Operations, as well as many other decorated officers.
DECISION TO FORM 5 COMMITTEES
Important decisions were made in the meeting. The first is the decision to form 5 committees to resolve military issues in disputed territories.
There will be a committee for the Kurdistan centers in disputed territories in the Salahaddin province, another for the surroundings of Kirkuk, another for the east and west of Mosul and another for the vicinity of Maxmur. The committees will be based in Baghdad and Hewler and will work together.
The Iraqi Army’s 14th Battalion moved into the Kirkuk border area for the city’s border security following the meeting. Shortly after they were done.
The 14 Battalion took over from the Iraqi Federal Police Force.
Anti-Terror Police Unit 2nd Division Command Press Officer Muntazar es Saidi issued a statement and said the Iraqi Army’s 14th Battalion forces settled in the Kirkuk border.
While these military steps were taken, on February 6 some political and administrative steps were taken. One issue was for the PUK and KDP to come to an agreement on the Governor of Kirkuk.
WHAT DID THE KDP AND PUK AGREE OVER?
Reports say the KDP and PUK have come to an agreement over the Governor of Kirkuk post. Accoding to their agreement, a governor will be elected during the Kirkuk City Council meeting to be held in February 18 in Hewler. The new governor will also be from the PUK. Turkish and Sunni Arab council members announced they have no intention to attend the meeting. Choosing Hewler for the council meeting means KDP points at Hewler for the solution to all problems for some people.
The reason the governorate issue hasn’t been resolved to date was the fact that the KDP also wanted this post. The PUK restated with every chance they got that the governorate rightfully belongs to them. Political observers and experts can’t hide their surprise that the KDP has given up the governorate.
Another reason the Kirkuk Governor issue hadn’t been resolved and the regional government couldn’t be formed was that Baghdad gave the Ministry of Justice, normally set for Kurds, was given to the PUK and the KDP objected.
The question is: Will giving the Kirkuk Governorate to the PUK lead to a step for a new government? Then who will get the Justice Ministry in Baghdad?
With the US acting as an intermediary, some issues between the KDP and YNK, and in parallel between the Bashur Regional Government and Baghdad, are headed to resolution in Kirkuk and disputed territories. Because the meetings are not transparent, the type of negotiations being made is not clear.
But the compromise facilitated by the US is also seen by some as preparations for a step against Iran.
The Iraqi President and Prime Minister have spoken against such claims, but arguments continue that there is such a plan at the base of the compromise.
Iran’s reflexes, the increase of their economic and political relationships with Iraq and Southern Kurdistan are read as precautions against a possible plot against the Tehran regime.
It’s difficult to gauge which way the developments will go. But it seems that as the conflict between the US and Iran gets hotter, the plan, its purpose and how sustainable it is will become clearer.