The Turkish state is influencing the political dynamics in Kirkuk, Iraqi Kurdistan, with the use of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Sunni groups, argued Şêrzad Samet, the Election Head for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Kirkuk, in an interview with Roj News on Thursday.
Samet noted that this manipulation aims to establish and maintain Turkey’s hegemony in the region, and suggested that the governance of Kirkuk should rightfully be in the hands of the Kurdish people and the PUK, criticising the KDP for not acting in the interests of the Kurdish community.
The election head highlighted the ongoing power struggle in the ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk. He noted that the Iraqi Army has been occupying houses in the city’s Newroz neighbourhood, intending to settle Arab families there. “This is a tactic to psychologically pressure the people,” he added. The local community has responded with a tent protest against this move.
Commenting on the broader political landscape in Iraq since the 2021 elections, Samet observed, “Previously, the KDP, Sunnis and the Sadr movement formed a united front, encouraged by [Turkish Foreign Minister] Hakan Fidan.” He suggested that these alliances are instrumental for Turkey’s ongoing dominance in Kirkuk. “These political parties are backed by the Turkish state,” he stated, “and their cooperation is shaping Kirkuk’s destiny”.
Finally, Samet addressed the Kurdish response to these developments. “The people of Kirkuk showed their will, on the condition of Kurdish parties entering the election with a united list. However, the KDP has consistently avoided engaging with Kirkuk’s citizens,” he noted. Samet stressed that the PUK is committed to creating a robust Kurdish coalition. “The right to select Kirkuk’s governor belongs to the Kurdish people and the PUK, and we will not compromise on this,” he affirmed.
Samet warned that any concession by the KDP in this regard would be detrimental: “If the KDP backtracks on Kirkuk and joins the anti-Kurdish front, they will be digging their own grave.”