The Turkmen community in Kirkuk will form a special security force to protect the Turkmen citizens of the disputed city.
Najat Hassan, representative of the Turkmen in Kirkuk, announced the new unit with 100-150 armed men Thursday.
“The decision to form the force was made after it became clear that the security forces in Kirkuk are unable to protect the Turkmen citizens in the city, especially after the assassination of the prominent Dr. Yıldırım Abbas and his brother,” Hassan said. “It was implemented at the request of the President of the Turkmen Front, Arshad Salhi.”
Jamal Taher, chief of the police in Kirkuk, criticized the move. “I do not support the formation of a committee like this, set up on the basis of nationalism in Kirkuk.”
He would prefer additional support for the police of Kirkuk, if the government agrees that additional security is necessary.
Taher claimed he has not officially been informed about the new force.
The oil-rich city of Kirkuk – 233 km northeast of Baghdad – is of multi-ethnic makeup. Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen all claim they are the rightful heirs to the rule of the city and the surrounding province. It has been hit hard by the violence that has engulfed Iraq since the 2003 U.S-led invasion. Unlike other regions, attacks in Kirkuk have not significantly decreased in recent years, with bombings and shootings an almost daily occurrence.
Observers believe that the file of the disputed areas between Baghdad and Erbil will be a challenge for Iraq after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country at the end of this year.