Baghdad suspends implementation of land contracts in disputed areas


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SULAIMANI — The federal Ministry of Justice said Wednesday (September 23) that it has decided to suspend implementation of legal decisions related to agricultural land in the disputed areas until the Council of Ministers can weigh in, due to the constitutional and political nature of the issue.

The disputed areas are a belt of territory stretching from Nineveh through Saladin and Kirkuk to Diyala that is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups and is claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad.

Decades of forced displacement caused by the policies of the former Ba’ath regime and several rounds of violent conflict have led to complex disagreements over land ownership, which almost always have an ethnic component.

Article 140 of Iraq’s 2005 Constitution is supposed to settle issues in the disputed areas, but has not been fully implemented.

In recent days, officials in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have released statements accusing the federal government of allowing renewed “Arabization” in Kirkuk, a reference to the Ba’athist policy that displaced Kurds and Turkmen in favor of Arab settlers during the 1980s.

The justice ministry said in a statement that it would “cancel all concluded agricultural contracts in light of the policies of demographic change in the disputed areas,…particularly in Kirkuk governorate, and return the situation to what it was before those contracts.”

Relatedly Minister of Defense Juma Enad met with members of the Council of Representatives about the issue, afterwards saying that the government is trying to resolve concerns raised by Kurdish farmers in Kirkuk.

(NRT Digital Media)