Müftüoğlu’s comments were in response to the Kirkuk governor’s earlier move to officially hoist the Kurdish flag across the province last week. Governor Najmadin Karim has asked Kirkuk’s provincial council to hoist the Kurdish flag alongside the Iraqi flag at official offices during the Kurdish New Year celebrations (Newroz). Although patrolled by Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces, Kirkuk is part of a constitutional article that defines the province as a “disputed territory” where Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen have territorial claims. Hoisting Kurdish flags in Kirkuk by private citizens are common, but the official flag at government offices is the Iraqi national flag. In response, Ahmad Askari, member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council said: “The comments of the Turkish foreign minister are a clear meddling in Iraq and Kurdistan Region’s internal affairs. Raising the Kurdish flag is a domestic issue and has nothing to do with Turkey”. Askari wondered “Why is it okay to hoist the Kurdish flag in Ankara and Istanbul but not in Kirkuk? We haven’t thrown away the flag of Iraq and only insist on raising the Kurdish flag next to it”.
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