Kirkuk governor Najmiddin Karim refuses to lower Kurdish flag despite court ruling

August 18, 2017 10:30 pm

, the governor of Iraq’s northern province of Kirkuk

The governor of Iraq’s northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk has declined to lower the flag of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) fluttering over public places in the face of a court ruling to replace the flag with the national Iraqi one.
“There is no constitutional article banning the raising of the flag as long as the Iraqi one is raised,” Najmiddin Karim said in statement, English-language online newspaper Iraqi reported.
“The Baghdad government has abandoned Kirkuk, and does not provide any services to its citizens. It does not view the province as part of Iraq,” Karim alleged in the statement.
“I am confident that the referendum will end successfully, and that the majority of Kurdistan people will vote for independence,” he added.
The statement came after an administrative court in Kirkuk ruled on Thursday to lower the Kurdish flag, reversing a controversial decision by Karim late March to raise it alongside the Iraqi one above government institutions.
Karim is a staunch supporter of a plan by Iraq’s Kurdistan region to hold an independence referendum late next month.

In this file photo, newly graduated anti-riot police officers hold the Iraqi flag, front, and Kurdish flag, back, during a commencement ceremony in the city of Sulaimaniyah, Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the state-run TRT Haber television news network on Wednesday that the vote will lead to “civil war” in Iraq.
Hoshyar Zebari, a close adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani, told Reuters on August 12 that Kurdish authorities were determined to hold the referendum on September 25 irrespective of all objections.
Zebari’s remarks came only two days after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked Barzani in a phone call to delay the referendum.
“On the issue of the postponement of the referendum, the president (Barzani) stated that the people of the Kurdistan region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future,” a statement issued on Friday by the KRG presidency read after Tillerson’s call.
In June, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described as untimely the decision by Barzani to hold the referendum.
“We have a constitution that we’ve voted on, we have a federal parliament and a federal government…The referendum at this time is not opportune,” Abadi said on June 13.
Iran has also expressed opposition to the “unilateral” scheme, underlining the importance of maintaining the integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan region is part of the majority Arab state.
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