Journalist Aziz Köylüoğlu believes that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is involved in a “staged fight” in Kirkuk (Kerkük), Iraq. Speaking to Esra Solin Dal from Mezopotamya Agency on Thursday, Köylüoğlu indicated that if the current chaos continues, the scheduled local elections on 18 December 2023 might not take place, which would benefit the KDP due to its low voter support.
Köylüoğlu highlighted that the tensions partially ended after Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan’s visits to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. He stated that the situation is not independent of the upcoming local elections in Iraq. If the Kurds win at least eight of the 16 seats in these elections, they will gain the majority, thereby transferring the governorship of Kirkuk to the Kurds.
The journalist accused the KDP of inciting the conflict, stating, “This is the KDP’s own provocation. The KDP played a big game and created chaos.” He added that the harsh intervention aims to create the illusion of a conflict with the Kurds and to prevent the elections. “If chaos continues in the city, there will be no elections. This benefits the KDP because they have little support there,” he said.
Köylüoğlu’s claims corroborates a recent analysis by Roj News published on Sunday. The analysis suggests that the KDP, in cooperation with the Turkish government, aims to manipulate the loyalty of Kirkuk residents, sow discord among Kurdish political parties, and create conditions that would justify cancelling the upcoming elections. This strategy is reportedly designed to prevent a governorship by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which currently holds more votes than any other Kurdish party in Kirkuk.
The Roj News analysis also states that the KDP has formed an alliance with Sunni Arabs and Turkmen, undermining the united Kurdish electoral list in Kirkuk. By instigating the blocking of the Erbil (Hewlêr)-Kirkuk road and asking Turkey to send anti-Kurdish Sunni Arabs and Turkmen to Kirkuk’s Joint Operations Command building, the KDP aims to absolve itself of the responsibility of supporting a PUK candidate. This move would also serve to mask their alleged cooperation with Turkey.