Obstacles to Incorporation of Kirkuk into the Kurdish Regional Government (Iraq)

Document Type : Original Article


1 Full Professor of Political Geography, Tarbiat Modares, Tehran,Iran

2 M.A of Political Geography, Tarbiat Modares, Tehran, Iran


The province of Kirkuk is considered as one of the most important controversial regions between Kurdish people and the central government that has overshadowed all peaceful negotiations among Kurdish parties and central government of Iraq from the foundation of this country up to now. The fate of this province has been one of the controversial issues between The Kurds and Iraqi central government. Iraqi Kurds have ever considered Kirkuk as inseparable land of Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdish leaders have always called it “heart of Kurdistan” or “Qods of Kurdistan”. They have repeatedly claimed in their political position that they never compromise upon its fate. On the other hand, Iraqi central government does not regard this area as Kurdish habitats and so it has never accepted Kurdish requests claiming counting on Kirkuk as an incident annexation of Kurdistan. This research has assumed that Kirkuk’s geo-economic weight in the national and regional (international) scale is one of the barriers preventing the annexation of Kirkuk to Kurdistan region. This research with its geopolitical approach and with its descriptive-analytic method using library and field findings investigates the barriers preventing the joining of Kirkuk to Kurdistan regional government.
In countries with heterogeneous racial - ethnic, the relation between the ruling race with other races is of very important issues which are studied by geo-political geographers. The country of Iraq is one of the numerical countries which compose of various heterogeneous races and religions and it is the very direct manufacture and creature of Britain’s Middle-East related politics in twentieth century. Kurds make the second big races in Iraq who have been engaged in struggle with Iraqi Regime from the foundation of this country until 1991 to obtain their political rights. In 1992, the first Kurdish regional government was established in a part of Kurdistan of Iraq which had been modified earlier as a safe area by the Western collation forces under the leadership of the United States. The area in which the Kurdish regional government was formed included three states of Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dahuk. The areas which the Kurds claim as being parts of Kurdistan are Kirkuk and a part of Mosul, Diyala, and Salah Al-Din. Kirkuk is the most controversial area between the Kurds and central government which has influenced all peaceful negotiations between Kurd parties and Iraqi central government. In scrutinizing the annexation of Kirkuk to Kurdistan, a very important question is raised: what is the most principal obstacle against the addendum of Kirkuk to Kurdish regional government? For getting the response to this question the null hypothesis of the research has been reviewed as follow: “It seems that geo-economic weight of Kirkuk, in national and international scale, is the most important obstacle in joining Kirkuk to Kurdistan region”.
The research is descriptive- analytic in terms of nature and method. Data gathering procedure is based on library and field finding. Data analysis will be done using qualitative and quantitative analysis methods, and conclusion will be done using the two methods.
Result and Discussion
The study and analysis of findings of the research lead to the following results, which are summarized as follows:
The controversial problem of the fate of Kirkuk and the controversial areas between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan regional government had been rooted historical from the beginning of the government of Iraq in 1923. Kurdish people that is the inhabitants of the province of Mosul, Ottoman or Southern Kurdistan, continuously and without interruption in line with political demands with their ruling regimes are fighting battles on Iraq's sovereignty as well as the issue of Kirkuk is indeed the most important topics of negotiations between the Iraqi central government and the movement of Kurdish people. As mentioned earlier, determining the scope of administrative-political problem of Kurdistan Regional Government was the main reason for the failure of talks between Iraqi Kurds and the ruling leader of Baathist, Hassan al-Bakr and Mustafa Barzani in March 1970, which was not included the province of Kirkuk that caused the failure of negotiations in 1974, and the central government of Iraq was again at war with the Kurds in that country, and the main focus of negotiations between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Jalal Talabani, government central Iraq in 1984, and negotiations between the front of Kurdistan (consisting  Kurdish political parties) with the Iraqi central government in 1991 to determine the extent of Kurdistan, has been  especially the fate of Kirkuk province and the other controversial  areas.
After oversetting of Ba'ath regime of Iraq in 2003 by the allies, led by the United States and returning Iraqi oppositionists groups and  formation of the interimGoverning Council and transitional government ,one of the most serious subjects  between the Kurdistan Regional Government and political parties in Iraq (Sunni and Shiite), the peaceful settlement of the question was the fate of Kirkuk and Other  controversial  areas  which it is reflected in Article (58) of the interim government Act at  transitional stage, as well as Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution can be find. As noted earlier, the leaders of political parties of Kurdistan, the Kirkuk province, historically and geographically consider as an integral part of Kurdistan and though focusing on this issue, don’t deny the existence of a genuine minorities such as the Turkmen, Assyrians, Kaldany and Arabs in this area .they are demanding for a peaceful resolution of the Kirkuk-determination within the framework of Article 140 of the Constitution in federal Iraq.
In response to the main question it should be noted that according to investigations carried out in the findings, it is possible to achieve the following results:
In historical study of the issue of Kirkuk and with regard to the provisions of negotiations between the Kurdish political movement and the governments on Iraq, the most reason disagreement of the Iraqi central government to juncture Kirkuk to Kurdistan, is the geopolitical weight and the geo-economic position of this region in Iraq. As being an important part of Iraq's oil reserves in the province of Kirkuk, the position relationship between the center and north, as well as the high potential agricultural and animal husbandry of this area cause to increase the geopolitical weight in the region compared to other regions of Iraq. Therefore, from the viewpoint of political rulers in Baghdad, the joining of Kirkuk to Kurdistan, Iraq is not only the central government's economic tightening will also provide suitable conditions for Kurdish independence and the territorial integrity of Iraq to be hazarded.
In this study, by librarian resources and the Internet, as well as in the field of environment study was conducted, the results show that the most important obstacle to annexation of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government, It is the weight of geopolitical and geo-economical of Kirkuk.
The data analysis using SPSS software:
The main hypothesis: It seems that the position of geo-economical of Kirkuk in scale of national and regional is one of the serious obstacles to annexation Kirkuk to Kurdistan. In order to prove the hypothesis of the study with regard to the obstacles in the field of (Kirkuk), by Delphi method, Results obtained are used faculty member looks out the survey questionnaire returned by the 25 individuals questioned the respondents, a total of 19 people have been considered the choices of too many and too much about the role of the hypothesis in lack of annexation of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan region.
The main hypothesis
The chi-square: 20.600
DOF: 3
The significant level: 0.000
Investigating the hypothesis of the chi-square test (chi-square) was used. The results indicate that the chi-square value to influence national and regional geo-economic position of the annexation of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government (in federal Iraq) is 20.60 and Since this amount is larger than the critical value and significance level calculated sig = 0/000 smaller than alpha (a = 0/05) so H0 is rejected and H1 hypothesis is confirmed. That is the geo-economic position of Kirkuk at the national and regional level in joining of Kirkuk to Kurdistan region is one of the serious obstacles. Considering the above, the main hypothesis of this study is proved.
The fate of Kirkuk and other controversial areas can be of the most serious problems between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional government after the downfall of Iraqi Baath regime. From Kurdish point of view, the province of Kirkuk is an impartible part of Kurdistan. All negotiations between Iraqi central government and Kurdish movement in Kurdistan, Iraq, have been   under or around this key issue affecting all circumstances between the Kurds and The central governments. All negotiations between Kurds and other previous Kingdom or Baath Regimes have been unsuccessful because of lack of understanding on the problem of Kirkuk’s final fate. The failure to solve Kirkuk’s problem in a peaceful way could create an explosive dangerous crisis between the Kurds and Iraqi central government which involves not only Iraq but also neighboring countries directly or indirectly. So, the importance of Kirkuk’s problem and inquiry in this regard could be of very fundamental and basic issues concerning geo-politic studies.
The Kurdistan of Iraq, or in other words, Kurdish territory, includes Erbil, Sulaimaniyah, Dahuk and Kurdish settlers of the province of Mosul, Diyala, Salahuddin. From 1991, three provinces of Erbil, Dahuk and Solaimaniyah have been located under Kurdish government and in reality central government does not practically have any power in these areas.They are governed by Kurdish parties. After overthrowing Baath regime in Iraq, and at the same time with American military operations in the region, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces with international collation forces made Kirkuk free from Saddam’s power and the majority of Kurds deported from their own home by Saddam came back to Kirkuk once again. After formation the first government in Iraq after Saddam, the earliest and the most important Kurdish requests  has been the interpolation of Kirkuk and other  under dispute areas of Kurdistan with Iraqi central government which with the efforts of  Kurdish parties  this  law  was  passed in the drafting of Iraqi  constitution in the interim constitution by the  legal principle  named  the law 58 and also in the main constitution of Iraq named 140 .This issue was approved in continual and existing constitution of Iraq .This was a legal way towards solving the fate of Kirkuk and other  under disputed areas.
It is a long term period of 12 years form collapse of Saddam regime in 2003, and according to the Article number 140 of the Iraqi main constitution, although the fate of Kirkuk and other under dispute areas would have been supposed to be clarified by the end of 2007, the reality is that this problem has not still been solved and evidences show some barriers and some obstacles have been brought about by some groups related to central government against the implementation of this law.
Paying attention to data analysis of findings in this research, in the present  situation in Iraq , and according to the religious conflicts and also the extreme racial and religious convergence instead of national convergence,  as well as problem making by different groups from Iraq in the implementation of the Article number 140 of basic constitution of Iraq, and regarding regional interference especially Turkey’s clear interference in the problem of Kirkuk  and also the formation of Turkmen majority in Kirkuk in the frame of “Iraqi Turkmens Front” and more than this, the lack of  adherence to Iraqi  constitution  by central government, particularly lack of effort to do the article 140 of the constitution, which  clearly states the  peaceful way to solve the problem of Kirkuk and other under dispute areas, the annexation of Kirkuk to Kurdistan seems  out of expectation.


Volume 11, Issue 38
July 2015
Pages 35-59
  • Receive Date: 25 April 2014
  • Revise Date: 20 July 2014
  • Accept Date: 06 September 2014
  • First Publish Date: 22 June 2015