‘Kirkuk’s stability is red line’: PUK President warns

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) President Bafel Talabani said they would not allow Kirkuk and its people to be the victim of the political rivalries.

Talabani’s press office revealed that he had received a top Iraqi security delegation in Sulaimani City on Monday.

The delegation was led by Iraq’s top national security adviser Qasim al-Araji, according to a statement released by the office.

It added that Talabani and the security delegation highlighted the recent unrest in Kirkuk City, including the unwanted incidents and increasing Kurdistan-Baghdad security and intelligence coordination.

Talabani expressed his concerns regarding the current state of Kirkuk, calling on all parties to act more responsibly with the events.

“Shedding the blood of the Kurdish youths is unacceptable,” Talabani said, according to the statement. “The perpetrators should be brought to justice as soon as possible,” he added.

PUK’s Talabani also warned that “Kirkuk’s stability is red line,” and stressed maintaining harmony and coexistence in the ethnically mixed Kirkuk.

“We would not allow the lives and fates of the Kirkuk people to be the victim of the political rivalries,” Talabani continued.

Four protesters were shot dead on Saturday in clashes between ethnic groups in Kirkuk that broke out after days of tensions. Police and medical sources said all four were Kurdish.

Amir Shwani, a spokesman for Kirkuk police, said in a statement to reporters a curfew had been lifted and vehicles were moving normally in the city on Sunday.

The dispute centres on a building in Kirkuk that was once the headquarters for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) but which the Iraqi army has used a base since 2017.

Kirkuk, an oil-rich province in northern Iraq along the fault lines between the Kurdish autonomous region and areas controlled by Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated central government, has been the focus of some of the country’s worst post-Islamic State violence.

Arab residents and minority groups, who say they suffered under Kurdish rule, have protested the KDP’s return to the city.

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