Barzani calls on Iraqi PM to investigate Khurmatu violations, Arabization in Kirkuk

Barzani calls on Iraqi PM to investigate Khurmatu violations, Arabization in Kirkuk

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Thursday called on his Iraqi counterpart to investigate abuses against Kurds in Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.

During a weekly press conference in Erbil, Prime Minister Barzani challenged Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi to address the ongoing violations against the Kurdish population in Tuz Khurmatu.

“Abadi claims that he is preoccupied with the people of the Kurdistan Region’s best interests, and I ask him, if you really are keen on that, why don’t you investigate what is happening in Tuz Khurmatu?” the KRG Prime Minister stated.

The security situation in Tuz Khurmatu drastically deteriorated since the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias took control of the city, which is home to a mix of Kurds, Turkmen, and Arab minorities.

The militias have been launching mortar attacks on several Kurdish villages east and north of Khurmatu since the start of December. 

Prime Minister Barzani also expressed concerns regarding reports of the forced displacement of Kurds in Kirkuk as well as an Arabization process reminiscent of practices by the former Iraqi dictatorship.

“We are concerned about the resumption of the Arabization campaign of Kurdish areas in Kirkuk,” he said. “This policy will lead to instability in the region.”

On Wednesday, a Kurdish Member of Parliament in Baghdad said Iraqi authorities had overseen the newly-implemented process of Arabization in Kurdish-populated villages, with some villagers reportedly given a 72-hour deadline to leave their homes.

The former Ba’ath regime under Saddam Hussein’s rule had implemented Arabization campaigns in Kirkuk Province and other Kurdish-populated areas in Nineveh, Salahadin, and Diyala.

The campaigns were meant to change the demography of the areas by forcibly displacing the Kurdish residents and replacing them with Arabs from central and southern Iraq.