Military vehicles carrying soldiers and special forces, and riot police arrived in Kirkuk amid reports that a Kurdish protest was being planned in the Iraqi city.
A senior officer said the security forces have received orders from top officials to prevent any unlicensed protest.
The pro-Iran Coordination Framework and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have agreed for leader of the Sovereignty coalition, Khamis Khanjar, and others to play a mediator role to defuse tensions in Kirkuk, said informed sources.
Khanjar arrived in the city on Thursday to attend a meeting of the local security committee and pave the way for dialogue and an end to the protest movement that may undermine stability.
Khanjar had also received a statement from the KDP that underlines that it was not involved in any of the protests.
The mediations have so far managed to restore calm, but the roots of the problem remain.
Supporters of the KDP believe that the restored calm is a “blow to their presence in Kirkuk” as their Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) rival prepares to consolidate its power in the city given its growing rapprochement with Shiite factions.
The PUK and Shiite factions appear to be siding together against their “common enemy”, KDP leader Masoud Barzani. However, settling scores in such an ethnically diverse city such as Kirkuk would be “playing with fire”, said a local government official.
Kirkuk was supposed to be subject to article 140 of the constitution that would call for a census and referendum over its fate. However, after the Iraqi federal forces seized control of the city in 2016, the Shiite factions believe that the application of the article was no longer necessary.
As it stands, the Coordination Framework and KDP have agreed to allow Khanjar to play the role of mediator.
The Framework is not seeking a decisive solution to the situation in Kirkuk, but they want to secure calm long enough for local elections to be held, tentatively at the end of the year.
The informed sources said the political contacts between the various parties have eased the tensions, but they are unable to decisively resolve the dispute.
Source : Asharaq Al-Awsat