Politically this process had been underway since before the security crisis. In April 2014, Iraqi Kurdish politicians took the majority of seats in the 12-seat cabinet of the provincial council and Kirkuk’s governor is also Kurdish.
Any of Iraq’s provinces can become a region if they follow the steps outlined in the Iraqi Constitution, which involve agreements between provincial council members as well as among voters.
Interestingly enough, the Kurdish governor of the province, Najmuddin Karim, likes the idea of an independent Kirkuk. His enthusiasm is shared by some of the other Kurdish politicians and a number of the Turkmen.
“Kirkuk should be separated from Baghdad so that we can see more economic developments and better security,” Karim told NIQASH. “If Kirkuk remains with Baghdad our future is unclear.”
In terms of a timeline, Karim, who is a member of one of Iraqi Kurdistan’s leading political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, says that Kirkuk should be independent first. After this, the local people can decide what should happen or possibly Iraqi Kurdistan’s political leadership will decide it belongs to them.
Karim’s opinion is actually the opposite of what most of his colleagues in the PUK want, as well as what most of the members of Iraqi Kurdistan’s other major party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP, want. They oppose the idea of an independent Kirkuk region.