US condemns violence in Iraq’s Kirkuk, urge parties to look to Constitution

The US on Tuesday condemned violence in Kirkuk after protests broke out in the northern Iraqi city during the weekend. 

“We’re closely monitoring the tensions in Kirkuk, and we condemn the violence that took place and express our condolences to the families of those killed,” State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“The US calls on all parties to resolve any disputes through dialogue and through the activation of article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution,” added Patel.

Article 140 calls for settling the situation in disputed regions between Baghdad and Erbil and giving the population the right to choose to remain under the federal government or join the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. It also calls for a popular referendum to determine if Kirkuk should fall within Iraq’s Kurdish region.

Due to deep-seated political sensitivities, however, Article 140 has yet to be implemented.

Protests erupted Monday in Kirkuk after four demonstrators were shot dead and 15 were wounded during the weekend.

Protests broke out in late August following a government decision to hand over the Kirkuk Operations Command headquarters to the KDP, which argued that the building was previously used by them and should be given back to the party.

Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) were deployed to bases evacuated by the Iraqi army in Kirkuk following the emergence of the Daesh/ISIS terror group in 2014.

In 2017, Iraqi government forces entered Kirkuk, ending the Peshmerga presence in the city.