Arab factions in Iraq’s Kirkuk province are calling on Baghdad to suspend the provincial council over an agreement between the region’s two main Kurdish parties.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Arab Council in Kirkuk, lawmakers of the Arab coalition in parliament and the Arab members of Kirkuk's provincial council also called on the federal armed forces to impose the law at all administrative borders in response to the “unilateral northern agreement”.
Earlier in the day, the two main political parties in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region signed a “comprehensive” agreement on provincial administration. They agreed to negotiate with the federal government in Baghdad for the return of the Peshmerga to Kirkuk, after which they would discuss the appointment of a new governor.
The deal, the details of which remain vague, was signed in Erbil by Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Kosrat Rasul Ali of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
“We have signed a comprehensive agreement and are now in the process of forming a committee to follow up on its implementation,” said PUK spokesman Latif Sheikh Omar at a joint press conference after the signing.
KDP spokesman Mahmoud Mohamed said the purpose of the agreement was to “get the Kurdish house in order and respond to the will of the region’s people”.
“This agreement will facilitate the formation of the region’s next government along with several parliamentary committees.
"We call on the Arab and Turkmen masses to prepare and unite for the stage of defending their freedom and gains achieved by the blood of the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for Iraqi Kirkuk," the two parties said in a joint statement.
Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province has long been the subject of dispute between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish region.
In late 2017, federal forces moved into several parts of Iraq disputed between Baghdad and the Kurdish region, including Kirkuk.
The deployments followed an illegitimate referendum on Kurdish regional independence that had been widely condemned by many states in the region.
Ties between the Iraqi federal government and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) have been improving in recent months, however, leading to the resumption of security coordination between them.
Kirkuk province is home to a mix of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen.
Following Erbil's illegal referendum on secession in October 2017, federal forces imposed control over the province, which had been under the control of northern Peshmerga forces.
By Hussein al-Amir in Baghdad