‘Barzani and governor ready to take down flag in Kirkuk’ claims Iraqi PM

Kurdistan Region and Iraqi flags in Kirkuk (© Mariwan Ibrahim/AFP)

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has claimed that the Kurdistan Regional Government’s de-facto President Masoud Barzani and Kirkuk Governor Najmiddin Karim are ready to take down the region’s flag from government buildings.

In an interview to Arabic Al-Mayadeen channel on Monday, the top minister said, “Raising the flag was based on a decision from the Kirkuk Provincial Council, and a decision from the governor. I talked to the governor, the president of the [Kurdistan] Region, and I also talked to others, all of them said that this issue was imposed on us in a certain way. They told me so, and that they are ready to withdraw from this subject, and that they need a certain formula to withdraw [the decision].”

Abadi did not clarify who had “imposed” the decision on the Kurdish officials, but said he had proposed a mechanism for withdrawing the decision to hoist the flag, Rudaw reported.

“I have no objection to raising the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk on national events such as the Kurdish New Year of Newroz,” Abadi said.

Kirkuk is one of several “disputed areas” between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is the most influential party in the majority Kurdish city and commentators have said PUK officials are the ones “imposing” the hoisting of the flag.

Ankara and Tehran have also voiced opposition to the raising of the flag as well as the Turkmen and Arab residents of Kirkuk.

The city’s provincial council decided on Tuesday to hold a referendum on officially joining the Kurdistan Regional Government.