Iraq’s central government has deployed a fresh Federal Police unit to Kirkuk with a view to cementing its grip on the oil-rich province, an Iraqi lawmaker said Tuesday.
“Kirkuk requires reinforcements given recent threats by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to reassert its presence in disputed parts of Iraq,” MP Jassim Mohamed told Anadolu Agency.
Mohamed made the assertion only a few hours after the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF)’s Kirkuk headquarters came under rocket attack by unknown aggressors.
The ITF, which represents the country’s sizeable Turkmen community, holds two seats in Iraq’s 328-seat parliament and nine out of 41 seats in Kirkuk’s provincial council.
Mohamed accused the KDP of “attempting to destabilize Kirkuk with a view to giving the impression that the situation was better before federal forces assumed control of the area”.
Late last year, Iraqi federal forces seized control of areas “disputed” between Baghdad and northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (of which the KDP is a leading component), including Kirkuk.
The deployments came shortly after the KRG held an ill-fated referendum on regional independence on Sept. 25.
The illegitimate poll swiftly prompted Baghdad to impose a raft of sanctions on the Kurdish region, including a ban on international flights that remains in effect until today.
By Ali Jawad in Baghdad