City (pop., 2003 est.: 750,000), northeastern Iraq. Located north of Baghdad in the Kurdistan region, it is situated in one of the first areas in the Middle East where oil was discovered. Karkūk is a trade and export centre as well as a centre of Iraq's petroleum industry, with oil pipeline connections to Tripoli and to Yumurtalinodotk on the Turkish coast. The city has traditionally had a Kurdish and Turkmen majority, but a large number of Arabs were resettled there in the late 20th century.
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It is located at 35.47°N, 44.41°E, in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, 250 kilometres (156 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad. The Kirkuk region lies among the Pir Magrun (Gudrun) to the north-east, the Zab River and the Tigris River to the west, the Hamrin Mountains to the south, and the Sirwan (Diyala) River to the south-east.
The present city of Kirkuk, which lies in the Kurdistan geographical region, stands on the site of the ancient Assyrian capital of Arrapha, which sits near the Khasa River on the ruins of a 5,000-year-old settlement (Kirkuk Citadel.) Arrapha reached great importance under the Assyrians in the 10th and 11th centuries BC. Because of the strategic geographical location of the city, Kirkuk was the battle ground for three empires, Assyria, Babylonia, and Media, who controlled the city at various times.
Kirkuk is the centre of the northern Iraqi petroleum industry. It is an historically and ethnically mixed city populated by, Kurds,Assyrians,Arabs and Turkmens.The population was estimated at 755,700 in 2003.
After the collapse of Assyria the region around Kirkuk was known as Kurkura, which may explain the origin of the Kurdish name Baba Gurgur ("father of flames") for the area . Under Greek reign it was known as Karkha D-Bet Slokh, which means 'Citadel of the House of Seleucid' in Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Fertile Crescent in that era.
The region around Kirkuk was known during the Parthian and Sassanid periods as Garmakan, which in Persian means the 'Land of Warmth' or the 'Hot Land'; this name is still used by the Kurds in the form Garmian with the same meaning.
From 7th century, when Muslim Arabs conquered the area, up to the medieval era, Arab writers used the name Kirkheni (citadel) to refer to the city. Some Arabs used the names Bajermi or Jermakan, (both Semitic variations of Aryan 'Garmakan').
A cuneiform script found in 1927 at the foot of Kirkuk Citadel stated that the city of Erekha of Babylonia was on the site of Kirkuk. Other sources consider Erekha to have been simply one part of the larger Arrapha metropolis.
Originally the city was founded by Hurrian-related Zagros-Taurus dwellers who were known as Karda, Qurtie or Guti by lowland-dwellers of Southern Mesopotamia. Under its ancient name Arraphkha, Kirkuk was capital of Kingdom of Gutium which is mentioned in cuneiform records about 2400 BC.
The small Hurrian kingdom of Arraphka which modern Kirkuk represents its capital was situated along the southeastern edge of the area under Aryan Mittanian domination. From 1500 to 1360 BC all kings of Assyria were vassals of kingdom of Mittani. Assyria's revolt against the Hurrian kingdom of Mittani probably led to fall of the kingdom in the 14th BC century and ultimately contributed to Mittani empires’s collapse. The city reached great prominence in the 10th and 11th centuries BC under Assyrian rule. However in 6th BC, Assyria was conquered by a union of Medes, remaining Hurrian-related tribes, and Babylonians. After Medes Achaemenids had the region under their dominion; In Parthian, and Sassanid eras Kirkuk was capital of a local kingdom called Garmakan, (Kurdish: Garmiyan).
The largest wave of Arab immigration took place under Baath rule with relocating of thousand Arab families from southern Iraq to the city,and displacing thousands of Kurdish families,in a process known as arabization or taarib.
Some analysts believe that poor reservoir-management practices during the Saddam Hussein years may have seriously, and even permanently, damaged Kirkuk's oil field. One example showed an estimated 1.5 billion barrels of excess fuel oil being reinjected. Other problems include refinery residue and gas-stripped oil. Fuel oil reinjection has increased oil viscosity at Kirkuk making it more difficult and expensive to get the oil out of the ground.
Overall, between April 2003 and late December 2004 there were an estimated 123 attacks on Iraqi energy infrastructures, including the country's 7,000 km-long pipeline system. In response to these attacks, which have cost Iraq billions of US dollars in lost oil-export revenues and repair costs, the US military set up the Task Force Shield to guard Iraq's energy infrastructure and the Kirkuk-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline in particular. In spite of the fact that little damage was done to Iraq's oil fields during the war itself, looting and sabotage after the war ended was highly destructive and accounted for perhaps eighty percent of the total damage.
The discovery of vast quantities of oil in the region after World War I provided the impetus for the annexation of the former Ottoman Wilayah of Mosul (of which the Kirkuk region was a part), to the Iraqi Kingdom, established in 1921. Since then and particularly from 1963 onwards, there have been continuous attempts to transform the ethnic make-up of the region.
Pipelines from Kirkuk run through Turkey to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea and were one of the two main routes for the export of Iraqi oil under the Oil-for-Food Programme following the Gulf War of 1991. This was in accordance with a United Nations mandate that at least 50% of the oil exports pass through Turkey. There were two parallel lines built in 1977 and 1987.
According to Human Rights Watch, from the 1991 Gulf War until 2003, the former Iraqi government systematically expelled an estimated 120,000 Kurds, Turkmens and some Assyrians from Kirkuk and other towns and villages in this oil-rich region. Most have settled in the Kurdish-controlled northern provinces. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government resettled Arab families in their place in an attempt to reduce the political power and presence of ethnic minorities, a process known as Arabization. The "Arabization" of Kirkuk and other oil-rich regions is not a recent phenomenon. Successive governments have sought at various times to reduce the ethnic minority populations residing there since the discovery of significant oil deposits in the 1920s. By the mid-1970s, the Ba'ath Party government that seized power in 1968 embarked on a concerted campaign to alter the demographic makeup of multi-ethnic Kirkuk. The campaign involved the massive relocation of tens of thousands of ethnic minority families from Kirkuk, Sinjar, Khanaqin, and other areas, transferring them to purpose-built resettlement camps. This policy was intensified after the failed Kurdish uprising in March 1991.(, , , , and ) Those expelled included individuals who had refused to sign so-called "nationality correction" forms, introduced by the authorities prior to the 1997 population census, requiring members of ethnic groups residing in these districts to relinquish their Kurdish or Turkmen identities and to register officially as Arabs. The Iraqi authorities also seized their property and assets; those who were expelled to areas controlled by Kurdish forces were stripped of all possessions and their ration cards were withdrawn.
Following the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, led by American and British military forces, which drove Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party from power, a caretaker administration was established until the creation of a democratically elected government.
Since April 2003, thousands of internally displaced Turkmens and others have returned to Kirkuk and other Arabized regions to reclaim their homes and lands which have since been occupied by Arabs from central and southern Iraq. These returnees had been forcibly expelled from their homes by the government of Saddam Hussein during the 1980s and 1990s.
Under the supervision of chief executive of Coalition Provisional Authority L. Paul Bremer, a convention was held in May 24, 2003 to select the first City Council in the history of this oil-rich, ethnically divided city. Each of the city's four major ethnic groups was invited to send a 39-member delegation from which they would be allowed to select six to sit on the City Council. Another six council members were selected from among 144 delegates to represent independents social groups such as teachers, lawyers, religious leaders and artists.
Kirkuk's 30 members council is made up of five blocs of six members each. Four of those blocs are formed along ethnic lines-], Arab, Assyrian and Turkmen- and the fifth is made up of independents. Turkmen and Arabs complained , however, that Kurds hold five of the seats which they don't deserve in the independent block. They are also frustrated that their only representative at the council's helm is an assistant mayor whom they consider pro-Kurdish. Abdul Rahman Mustafa (عبدالرحمن مصطفى ), a Baghdad-educated lawyer was elected mayor by 20 votes to 10. The appointment of an Arab, Ismail Ahmed Rajab Al Hadidi (اسماعيل احمد رجب الحديدي ), as deputy mayor went some way towards addressing Arab concerns.
Kirkuk is Iraq's biggest oil-producing city and thus a plum in the postwar redistricting. It still crackles with ethnic tension despite a more functional public service network than other larger Iraqi cities. But Saddam Hussein had focused his drive for Arabization of Kirkuk, ethnically engineering the Kurdish majority out of existence by expelling an estimated 250,000 Kurds from the area and giving or selling their homes to Arabs. Efforts to reverse that have brought hordes of armed young Kurds to the city at night to chase away the Arab population in a second wave of violence and ethnic-cleansing. Kurdish leaders have appealed to their constituents to be patient and let a legal process determine property rights.
On June 30th, 2005 through a secret direct voting process with a participation of the widest communities in the province and although of all the political legal security complexes of this process all over the country generally and in Kirkuk in particular, Kirkuk has witnessed the birth of its first elected Provincial Council. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq IECI has approved and announced the outcomes of this process, which led to fill the 41 seats of Kirkuk Provincial Council by the won lists as the followings:
367 List (Kirkuk Brotherhood List KBL): 26 seats 175 List (Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF): 8 seats
299 List (Iraqi Republic Gathering): 5 seats 178 List (Turkmen Islamic Coalition): 1 seat 289 List (Iraqi National Gathering): 1 seat
The new KPC has started its second turn on March 6th 2005. Its inaugural session was dedicated to have the introduction of its new members then followed by the oath ceremony that was supervised by Judge Thahir Hamza Salman, the Head of Kirkuk Appellate Court.
According to the Kurds, the conquerors of Kurdistan have tried to destroy the numerous Kurdish emirates one after the other. Apart from their historical claim for Kirkuk, the Kurds invoke Article 58 of the Administration for the state of Iraq for the transitional period, also known as Administrative Law of March 8, 2004 which is considered the interim constitution of Iraq by the now-dissolved Iraqi Governing Council. Article 58 states in part: The Iraqi Transitional Government shall act expeditious measures to remedy the injustice caused by the previous regime's practice in the demographic character of certain regions, including Kirkuk, by deporting and expelling them from their place of residence and forcing migration in and out of the region.
A referendum on whether Kirkuk province should become part of Iraqi Kurdistan was due to be held in November 2007 but has been delayed, possibly until May 2008. In December 2007, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unscheduled visit to Kirkuk before proceeding to Baghdad, where she called on Iraqi leaders to urgently implement a national reconciliation roadmap. Turkey has given assurances to the Iraqi Turkmen Front that should Kurds try to annex Kirkuk, or hurt the interests of Iraq's Turkmen it will prevent this by invading Northern Iraq including Kirkuk.
The Ottoman encyclopaedist Shamsaddin Sami, author of the Qamus al-A’lam (قاموس الأعلام) published in Istanbul in 1897, following describing the city states: Three quarters of the inhabitants of [[Kirkuk are Kurds and the rest are Turkmens, Arabs, and others]]. Seven hundred and sixty Jews and 460 Chaldeans also reside in the city. The result of 1957 census for the city has been reported as following: 178,000 Kurds, 48,000 Turkmens, 43,000 Arabs and 10,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christians living in the city. In 1980's, many non-Arab people who were forced out of the city during the Ba'th rule, have started to claim back their lands since the toppling of Hussain's regime, including Turkmens and Kurds. The city of Kirkuk was long known as a city where people of different ethnic groups lived together in peace, but this changed starting in the 1980s during the regime of Saddam Hussein. Kurds and Turkmens were forced from Kirkuk and outlying villages where they had been living since the time of the British occupation of Iraq, to be replaced with Arab oilfield workers in Saddam's Arabization plan of the Al-Anfal Campaign. Today Kurds are estimated to form the majority of the inhabitants, with a significant Arab minority, followed by Turkmens and Assyrian minorities.
For generations Kirkuk was Iraq's melting pot where the country's diverse ethnic and religious groups lived in relative peace. Today, Kirkuk's ethnic balance is threatened by Iraqi insurgency,and long-oppressed groups thirsting for justice and power in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. At present there is surprisingly little sectarian violence, while political leaders quarrel over who will control Kirkuk. Newly powerful Kurds, who hold the second greatest share of seats in the Iraqi National Assembly insist that Kirkuk be included in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in the north. However, Sunni Arabs and Turkmens want the city controlled by Iraq's central government in Baghdad, 150 miles south. This dispute virtually derailed the creation of Iraq's new government: Kurds refused to support the new government without a guarantee that Kirkuk would be part of Kurdistan Autonomous Region, and Shiites, who hold the majority of seats in the Iraqi National Assembly, refused to give in.
In 1948, the name Arrapha became the name of the residential area within the city of Kirkuk which was built by the North Oil Company as a settlement for its workers. This area is presently inhabited mostly by Assyrians.
Ancient architectural monuments of Kirkuk include the citadel, the qishla, the Prophet Daniel's Tomb, and Al Qaysareyah Market. The archaeological sites of Qal'at Jarmo and Yorgan Tepe are found at the outskirts of the modern city. In 1997, there were reports that the government of Saddam Hussein "demolished Kirkuk's historic citadel with its mosques and ancient church" (, photographs).
The architectural heritage of Kirkuk sustained serious damage during the World War I (when some pre-Muslim Christian monuments were destroyed) and, more recently, during the Iraq War. Simon Jenkins reported in June 2007 that "eighteen ancient shrines have been lost, ten in Kirkuk and the south in the past month alone".
Kirkuk: Iraq's northern tinderbox; 12,000 Turkish soldiers are poised to intervene if Kurds move to retake the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.(WORLD)
Jan 13, 2003; Byline: Scott Peterson Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor BARDA KAROMAN CAMP, NORTHERN IRAQ -- During the day, the...