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Turkish Troops Enforce Baghdad's Violation of Kirkuk Referendum

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The Daily Star in Lebanon reports: "Turkish MPs are expected to vote soon on extending by one year the government's mandate for cross-border military strikes in northern Iraq, where Ankara estimates about 2,000 PKK militants have taken refuge." News stories omit mention of continued Turkish military buildup on the Iraqi border. 250,000 Turkish troops remain stationed there and the presumed continuation by a rubber stamp of the Turkish Parliament remains a source of potential conflict. 

In this context, there's appeared a flurry of articles on the Kirkuk Referendum. In each of the articles there have been a specific references to Turkmen in Kirkuk and references to Arab opposition to the Kirkuk Referendum. One article by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis  puts it this way: "Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution has been legally expired. Because the constitution was particular about carrying it out in December 2007. There is no legal way to amend it or delay it." President Barzani responds to such assertions in his own words: "How has it expired? This is an article in the constitution. If the validity of this article has expired it means that the validity of the whole constitution has expired. This is illogical." 

Dr. Megalommatis  proposes a list of demands addressed to the European Union in an Open letter that sounds  more like an ultimatum, for the Kurdish Regional Government: "Therefore, in order to avoid ethnic conflict and miseries of war in the North, we demand the Kurdish administration to:1- Stop claiming Kerkuk and other Turkmen towns in Kerkuk province, Salahaddin and Diyale provinces as part of Kurdistan. 2- Remove all its armed militias present in the form of army and police forces from the non-Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq and replace them with local forces. 3- Remove all its Kurdish administration personnel from non-Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq and replace them with local administration personnel. 4- Allow all non-Kurdish ethnicities of the North to establish its own self ruling governments (i.e. the Turkmen government, the Chaldo-Assyrian government and the Northern Arab government) beside the Kurdistan Regional Government. 5- Establish an equal partnership between the three major ethnicities, the Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs with a contingent for the Chaldo-Assyrians and form of The Federation of Northern Iraq which will be a federation of the four local governments (Kurdish, Turkmen, Arab and Chaldo-Assyrian) and still be part of the Federal Iraq. That will be much more acceptable to everybody instead of forcibly including them into Kurdistan."

Article 5 of the Iraqi Constitution states unequivocally: "The law is sovereign. The people are the source of authorities and its legitimacy, which the people shall exercise in a direct general secret ballot and through their constitutional institutions."

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Article 140 reads: "First: The executive authority shall undertake the necessary steps to complete the implementation of the requirements of all subparagraphs of Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law. Second: The responsibility placed upon the executive branch of the Iraqi Transitional Government stipulated in Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law shall extend and continue to the executive authority elected in accordance with this Constitution, provided that it accomplishes completely (normalization and census and concludes with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citizens), by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007."

In a September interview KRG President Masoud Barzani continued to uphold the constitutionality of the Kirkuk Referendum: "Indeed, this is a question that puzzles us. We do not wish for anything outside the constitution and we do not want anything more than what the constitution gives us... The constitution was agreed upon by the majority of the Iraqi people and it sets rights and duties. We in the Kurdistan district are accurately committed to the articles of the constitution. We are not asking for more than what the constitution gives us. This includes Article140 (pertaining to the issue of Kirkuk and the disputed regions). Commitment to the constitution is the guarantee for safeguarding the unity of Iraq." 

Kurdish Globe sees the delays in the Kirkuk referendum for what they are. "Baghdad wants to slip the Kirkuk rug from under the feet of the Kurds. Kurds should be warned; after all they have had enough time and suffering to read the writing on the wall." As long as the Turkish troops remain stationed on the border and as long as the government in Baghdad refuses to implement Article 140 the future remains uncertain and the Kurdish people should not take anything for granted. 

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I am a Green Party member who lives in San Francisco. I have been active in water planning in the Middle Rio Grande region of New Mexico. I write political articles on the need for third parties, the contemporary failures of public education, the (more...)

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