PUK’s Backroom Deal Approves Rakan al-Jabouri as Kirkuk Governor
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PUK’s Backroom Deal Approves Rakan al-Jabouri as Kirkuk Governor

ERBIL — Despite continuous measures to limit the role of Kurds in the local administration of Kirkuk, and while Kurdish villages are being Arabizes through a suspicious plot, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) seems to be moving unilaterally to approve Rakan al-Jabouri, the current acting governor of Kirkuk appointed by Baghdad, to remain in his position as the official governor.

Kirkuk, an oil-rich province disputed between Iraq and Kurdistan Region, has been under the control of the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed militias of Hashd al-Shaabi since October 2017. Baghdad took over the province after an alleged secret deal with the PUK back then. However, the PUK blames other Kurdish political parties for the current crisis faced by the Kurdish population of Kirkuk.

Last week, a new document was leaked by Kurdish media outlets showing that the PUK has unilaterally agreed with the Arab and some Turkmen factions in Kirkuk to keep Rakan al-Jabouri in his position as the governor of Kirkuk.

Al-Jabouri has been widely criticized since his appointment as the acting governor for putting pressure on the indigenous Kurds to force them out of their homeland, and limit the role of Kurds in the administration of Kirkuk.

According to the information obtained by BasNews, the deal comes at a time while PUK officials, MPs and local representatives are themselves prevented from visiting various neighborhoods in Kirkuk, and they indeed have no role in governing the province where the majority are Kurds.

A day after signing the deal, PUK representation office in Kirkuk released a statement in which it overlooked the anti-Kurd policies by the Baghdad-appointed governor, and blamed the 2017’s Kurdistan Independence Referendum and those who supported the vote, for the current crisis in Kirkuk.

Jwan Hassan, a member of Kirkuk Provincial Council, told BasNews that they see the PUK’s deal as invalid because the signator does not represent the political front of Kurds.

“We will absolutely not accept an extension to Rakan al-Jabouri’s rule,” she told BasNews.

“Since 16th October [2017], Rakan al-Jabouri has begun a massive and obvious campaign of Arabization in the Kurdish areas. He even distorted the history and demography of the province when he said ‘Palkana’ is an Arab village occupied by Kurds.”

Palkana is a village on the outskirt of Dibis district in northwest of Kirkuk. The village was last week stormed by hundreds of Arab men who attempted to forcefully occupy Kurdish homes. They have threatened the Kurdish farmers to share their agricultural products with them or their farms will be burned.

BasNews has learned that the signator of the secret deal is from the PUK who has made the deal on behalf of the “brotherhood list” while the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and other members from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), Christian factions and independent groups are not aware.

The Brotherhood List is a political front to unify Kurds in Kirkuk. KDP is the largest member with 11 seats at the provincial council. PUK has 8 seats, KIU owns 3, and 3 other seats are for the Christians.