Author(s): Sinem CELIK, Cabir CELIK

Kirkuk is an important city that has been home to different nations for thousands of years. Kirkuk, where communities have struggled mercilessly to possess it, has become a place where many ethnic groups have lived together over time. As of today, Kurds, Arabians, Turkmens and a small number of Chaldean Christians live in the city. This diversity of ethnic structure has led to the emergence of undesirable problems in the city from past to present. Oil conflict has been added to these problems since the beginning of the 20th century, when it was discovered that the city had rich oil reserves. When the historical process is analyzed, both in ethnic- based problems and in the sharing of oil wells, power struggle is seen among the Arab and Kurds. Having the central administration as much as the US occupation of Iraq, the Arabs are superior to Kirkuk in comparison to the Kurds, who have long been trying to achieve autonomy in northern Iraq. The Kurds, supported by the United States after the occupation of Iraq, have become a big authority in the city. However, Kirkuk, which is among the controversial regions according to the constitution of Iraq, and whose situation should be clarified with a referendum, continued to be a problem between the Kurds and the central government after 2003. When the policies and actions of the Kurds towards Kirkuk are evaluated in general, it is clear that they are strongly insistent on taking the city under the control. Accordingly, the authorities of the KRG consistently mention Kirkuk issue in their explanations. In these explanations, the KRG executives clearly express that Kirkuk is the red line of their demands for an independent state. This study, attempted to explain the main reasons for the insistence on the Kirkuk issue, which was at the forefront of controversial places in which the Kurds put something to vote in the independence referendum. For this purpose, firstly, the Northern Iraqi Kurds have been examined in the light of historical documents and population censuses which claim that they are the essential elements of the city. Then, it is mentioned that Kirkuk oil is important for the Kurds, who want to establish an independent state in northern Iraq, and the political and military steps taken by Kurds in order to possess the city and this oil reserves have been discussed in detail. At the conclusion part, new risks that will reveal from the military intervention of the central government against Kirkuk after the independence referendum and with the presence of Hashd al-Shaabi organization that supports this organization in the city has been mentioned. When the policies of Kurds up to today towards the Kirkuk issue, which has gained a new dimension after the independence referendum, are evaluated in general terms, it is understood that the Kurds have not given up on seeing Kirkuk as the red line of independent state demands. However, the recent developments show that the insistence on the Kirkuk issue has caused the city, which the Kurds actually controlled, to lose completely. On the other hand, nowadays it is not easy to say that Kirkuk's dream is ending for the northern Iraqi Kurds.


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