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Kirkuk (Iraq)
Coordinates 35 ° 28 '  N , 44 ° 24'  E Coordinates: 35 ° 28 '  N , 44 ° 24'  E
Country IraqIraq Iraq
Governorate Kirkuk
Basic data
height 330  m
Residents 1,000,000 (2014)
prefix 50 (city), 964 (country)
Post Code 36001-36015
mayor Najmaddin Kareem

Kirkuk ( Arabic كركوك, DMG Kirkūk , Kurdish که‌رکووک Kerkûk , Turkish Kerkük ) is a university city in northern Iraq and the sixth largest in the country. It is the center of the Iraqi oil industry . The city of Kirkuk lies on a plain with a hill. The hill contains the oldest part of the city with the citadel. Kirkuk is divided into three parts by the Hassa River and the Citadel. Since the country was destabilized in 2003, the city has been one of the disputed areas of Northern Iraq .


The ancient name of the city was Arrapcha , it belonged to the Hanilgabat empire .

After the collapse of the Assyrian Empire , the area around Kirkuk was named by Ptolemy Kurkura , which could explain the name Baba Kurkur (also Baba Gurgur) - an open oil field in front of the city. The Seleucids renamed Kirkuk Karkha D-Bet Slokh . The name means citadel of the house of Seleukios and was Aramaic - the lingua franca of the time .

The area around Kirkuk was named by the Parthians and Sasanids Garmakan , which means warm land or hot land . At the same time, the Kurds call the area Garmian / Germiyan . Turkish tribes from Germiyan founded the Beylik Germiyan in Western Anatolia in the 14th century .

When the Arabs conquered the Middle East as part of the Islamic expansion in the 7th century , they named the city Kirkheni (Citadel). Other Arabic names were Bajermi or Jermakan , which is derived from the Iranian name Garmakan . The current form of Kirkuk is mentioned for the first time in the work Zafarnama by Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi († 1454) from the 15th century (preserved illuminated manuscript by Ibrahim Sultan, 1436). The zafar name is the biography of Timur who conquered Kirkuk.

Climate table

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Kirkuk
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 13.7 15.5 19.3 25.5 32.9 39.2 42.8 42.5 38.3 31.6 23.0 16.4 O 28.5
Min. Temperature (° C) 4.5 5.5 8.5 13.0 18.8 23.7 26.7 26.5 22.4 17.2 11.3 6.1 O 15.4
Precipitation ( mm ) 61 62 76 51 21st 0 0 0 0 4th 41 59 Σ 375
Humidity ( % ) 73 66 61 52 35 21st 19th 19th 21st 31 53 68 O 43.1
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


In 1912, an estimated 12,000 people lived in Kirkuk. In 1965, official population statistics indicated 184,000 inhabitants, including 71,000 Kurds, 55,000 Turkomans and 41,000 Arabs. However, there have been significant government efforts to settle Arabs instead of Kurds. The population of Kirkuk was 1,000,000 in 2014. The majority of the population consists of Kurds . Other notable and large ethnic groups in the city are Arabs and Turkmens . The Christian Assyrians are among the smaller minorities . Above all, the deportation of the Kurds under Saddam Hussein has completely changed the population structure of the city and is fueling the controversy of whether the city belongs to Kurdistan or Iraq to this day.

Arab immigration

Map with ethnic groups in Kirkuk and the surrounding area in 2014, at the time of the Kurdish occupation of the area and the strong Kurdish migration from the north (according to Mehrdad Izady ).

The first Arabs already settled in the region with the Arab conquest in the 7th century. The two most important Arab families were later the Tikriti and the Hadidi (الحديدي). The Tikriti, as their name suggests, immigrated from Tikrit to Kirkuk in the 17th century . Other Arab families who settled here during the Ottoman rule are the al-Ubaid (العبيد) and the al-Djiburi (الجبور). The Al-Ubaid were driven from their homeland northwest of Mosul by other Arab tribes.

Turkmen immigration

When Kirkuk was conquered by the Safavids in the 16th century , settlement with Turkmen tribes began. The Safavids tried to impose their Shiite denomination on the Sunni population.

From the Turkmen point of view, there were three periods of immigration. The first Turkmen came to Kirkuk as soldiers of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs. But these first immigrants were absorbed and integrated by the Arab and Kurdish population. The second wave of immigration came with the Seljuks when Tughrul Beg invaded what is now Iraq in 1055. The Seljuks held the city of Kirkuk for 63 years. During the Ottoman period, more and more Turkmens moved to Kirkuk.

The Iraqi historian Abdul-Razzak Al-Hassani (عبدالرزاق الحسني), however, believes that the Turkmens were part of Murad IV's armies of 1638, which were settled in Kirkuk to secure the area.

Kurdish or Iraqi identity of the city

Sulaymaniyaa-Kirkuk Road after the Iraqi army had fled and was secured by the Kurdish Peshmerga

In 2012, the then Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited the city and emphasized the Iraqi identity of the city , after him, due to the many ethnicities, and thus angered the Kurdish majority of the city, who have always wanted to be incorporated into Kurdistan . They see Kirkuk as their secret capital and recognize in it above all a purely Kurdish identity, which according to them has been changed by the Arabization of Saddam Hussein's government. During Hussein's reign, around 250,000 Kurds were expelled from Kirkuk and Arabs were settled. After the fall of Hussein in 2003, the Kurds demanded that the displaced Kurds can return to Kirkuk.

According to historian Dr. Kamal Mudhir Ahmed, the controversy over the town's identity only got bigger in the early 20th century when the oil-rich fields in the region were discovered. Before that, according to Dr. Kamal Mudhir Ahmed, no dispute about the Kurdish identity of the city, which for centuries also served as the capital of the Kurdish Baban Empire. He also mentions that the ethnic cleansing of the city, driven by the Baathists, was directed primarily against the Kurdish population of the city from the 1960s onwards, but also affected the Turkmen minority.


Around 2000 Christian Assyrian families live in Kirkuk. About half belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church . In 2013 the Archdiocese of Kirkuk was merged with the Diocese of Sulaimaniya to form the Archdiocese of Kirkuk-Sulaimaniya . Its archbishop has been Yousif Thomas Mirkis OP since 2014 .

Other Christians in Kirkuk are members of the Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic and Armenian Orthodox churches.



Old Kirkuk. Approx. 1950s

The history of Kirkuk goes back several millennia. Kirkuk was the capital of the Hurrian Empire of Arrapcha. The Nuzi archives, for example, provide particularly good information about the economy of Arrapcha.

The Kirkuk Citadel

Arrapcha was founded around 1250 BC. Conquered by Tukulti-Ninurta I. BC , but was able to regain its independence shortly afterwards. In the 10th and 11th centuries BC The city continued to develop under the Assyrians. The city was on the route of the Assyrian campaigns against Urartu and other northern countries. The campaign of Nabopolassar took place from 609 to 607 BC against Urartu via Arrapcha, Arbela , Nisibis , Mardin and the Tur Abdin .

The Assyrians were defeated by an alliance of Medes and Babylonians. The city of Arrapcha fell to the Medes and after them to the Achaemenids . In the Parthian and Sassanian times, Kirkuk was the capital of the Garmakan Empire.

middle Ages

In the 7th century AD, the area fell under Arab-Islamic rule. Up until the end of the 14th century, Kirkuk was administered from Daquq . In the late Middle Ages Kirkuk belonged to the Ottoman Vilayet Shahrizor , whose capital it was since the 16th century.. After the Arab, Seljuk, Mongolian, Persian and Ottoman conquests, Kirkuk was the capital of the autonomous Kurdish Baban principality for almost 200 years until the end of the 18th century .

Modern times

On July 14, 1959, during the celebrations to mark the first anniversary of the overthrow of the monarchy, clashes between ethnic groups resulted in many deaths among the population.

From 1975 the Baath government began to nationalize Kurdish and Turkmen possessions. Furthermore, government agencies were only given to Arabs.

In April 2003 the city was conquered by Allied troops and Kurdish fighters during the Iraq war . The Kurds were key players in the struggle for the liberation of Iraq when they formed the Northern Front and diplomacy occupied Mosul and Kirkuk. As a result, the security situation in Kirkuk, as in the rest of Iraq, deteriorated rapidly. This was particularly pronounced in Kirkuk, because Arab Sunnis, Kurds and Turkmens alike lay claim to the oil-rich city.

After the advance of IS , which led to the fall of Mosul on June 10, 2014 and the withdrawal of the Iraqi army from the region and from Kirkuk, the Kurdish armed forces took over the security of the city in mid-June. The fighting subsided in the following hot summer months, but on January 29, 2015, the IS fighters launched another offensive against Kirkuk. However, the major offensive from three directions only led to initial successes and was then repulsed by the Peshmerga as well as armed residents and US air support.

After that, especially in the southwest of the city, there were repeated battles between Kurdish troops and IS fighters. In March 2015, the Kurdish troops pushed the IS fighters back further and liberated several villages in front of the city. The oil industry was largely spared of this, even if the fighting often revolved around its direct control. Around 800 people were killed in the clashes by the end of 2015 and another 2,000 were injured. There are also clashes in the city between the Peshmerga and Shiite militias established by the central government in Baghdad. In response to the government troops' offensive on Mosul from October 17 (→ Battle of Mosul ), IS sleeper cells launched a series of attacks in and around Kirkuk on the morning of October 21. They stormed security stations and other buildings, where they were surrounded by police later in the day. In nearby Dibis , three suicide bombers stormed a power station, killing 12 Iraqi and 4 Iranian employees. Contrary to some earlier statements by official representatives of the province, the fighting dragged on for more than two days. Ultimately, the bodies of more than 50 IS fighters are said to have been found, while the losses to the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces and civilians amounted to more than 100. When asked how more than 100 fighters could get into the city, the local security council answered with the assumption that IS supporters from Mosul might have mixed with the refugees, many of whom live in camps in the Kirkuk area.

With the withdrawal of IS from the region, the disputes between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional government over Kirkuk came to a head. The Kurds' general aspirations for independence play just as important a role as the oil wealth of the Kirkuk region, where around 10% of Iraq's oil reserves are believed to be. The Kurdish government had already started unilaterally with the export of the raw material and passed Baghdad in the process. Since May 2016, a referendum has been openly debated in the city to decide whether it belongs to the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan.

After IS attacks in Kirkuk during the Battle of Mosul in October 2016, Arab residents were expelled from the city by Kurds. Amnesty International accused the Iraqi Kurds of having launched a campaign to drive Arab Iraqis from the areas conquered by IS. The Kurdish regional government held a controversial independence referendum on September 25, 2017 , which also included the disputed areas such as Kirkuk. The referendum led to considerable tension between Erbil and Baghdad, so that in October 2017 the Iraqi armed forces concentrated troops at Kirkuk, after the IS had been completely driven out of the Kirkuk governorate. On October 16, 2017, the Kurds withdrew from Kirkuk largely without a fight.

Referendum in Kirkuk

According to the Iraqi constitution, all displaced families should have returned by March 2007 for a new census in mid-2007. In November 2007, a referendum was to be held to decide whether the city would join the Kurdistan Autonomous Region or not. At the end of March 2007, the Iraqi parliament passed a decision requiring all Arabs who were resettled to Kirkuk after July 14, 1968 to leave the city. In addition to compensation of USD 15,000, they should also be guaranteed land in their homeland, where they lived before 1968. Since then, the Arab, Assyrian and Turkmen populations have been complaining about the systematic de-Arabization and expulsion of other ethnic groups from the city, with the aim of transforming the city into a Kurdish majority by the end of the referendum at the end of 2007. Turkey is trying to prevent this by all means, as they fear that the Kurds could proclaim a state with the city's oil wealth and therefore often threatened to intervene.

On December 20, 2007, the referendum was postponed by six months to mid-2008 at the proposal of the UN and the approval of the Kurdish regional government. The regional government gave technical and not political reasons as the reason. However, the referendum was not held. The ethnic composition becomes a political issue in every election. For the parliamentary elections in January 2010 , despite protests from the Arabs and Turkmens, the Kurds, who had been called in since 2004, were granted the right to vote. In return, the Arabs and Turkmens are to be given a fixed number of seats in Kirkuk.


The fire of Baba Gurgur. In Kirkuk there are geyser-like pillars of fire that are created naturally by the escape of natural gas.

In 1902 the search for oil began in Iraq. The first drilling took place in the Zagros Basin (northeast Iraq). However, the first oil discovery came about 20 years later. From the Baba Gurgur ( Father of Flames ) No. 1 a huge oil fountain shot into the sky on October 14, 1927. For nine days, 95,000 barrels (around 15 million liters) poured into the environment a day before the borehole could be closed. The Kirkuk oil field was discovered. By the end of 1930, 20 wells had been drilled and produced oil. In 1934 oil export began via pipelines to Tripoli ( Lebanon ) and Haifa . The largest oil field in Iraq is now 100 km long and 12 km wide and has an oil-bearing layer 610 m thick. The original amount of oil in the field is given as 16 billion barrels. It had about a fifth of the oil volume of the largest oil field in the world, Ghawar in Saudi Arabia , and is one of the so-called super giants. It is the center of northern Iraq's oil production . Today 10 to 12 billion barrels are still stored in the field.

Pipelines from the city run by Turkey to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean and were one of the two main export routes for Iraqi oil in the UN program Oil for Food . Kirkuk is also the market center of an area where sheep , grain and fruit are grown .


Since 2003 the city has had a university with 14 faculties and numerous subordinate departments.


The Kirkuk FC plays in the top division in Iraqi soccer, the Iraqi Super League .

sons and daughters of the town

See also

Web links

Commons : Kirkuk  - collection of images, videos and audio files
  • Details about Kirkuk:
Encyclopaedia of the Orient: Kerkûk
Encyclopaedia Iranica: Karkā ḏe Bēṯ Selōḵ
  • Information on the status of Kirkuk
(en) News on Kirkuk , Deutsche Welle
(de) Article on Kirkuk ,
(de) Article on Kirkuk , Die Presse

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Edward Balfour, Encyclopaedia Asiatica, p. 214, Cosmo Publications, 1976
  2. The Acts of Mar Mari the Apostle by Amir Harrak. P. 27.
  3. ^ The World's Greatest Story: The Epic of the Jewish People in Biblical Times by Joan Comay. P. 384.
  4. a b Iraq’s Policy of Ethnic Cleansing: Onslaught to change national / demographic characteristics of the Kirkuk Region by Nouri Talabany ( Memento of the original from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 418 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition, sv KIRKUK
  7. a b Archived copy ( memento of the original from January 8, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. ^ A hint of harmony, at last . In: The Economist . ( [accessed August 2, 2018]).
  11. a b Kirkuk: Peace is over in Little Iraq . In: ZEIT ONLINE . ( [accessed on August 2, 2018]).
  12. Ahmed, KM (2010), 'Judgment of History and Conscience: A documentary study of the Kurdish issue in Iraq' (Introduced and translated by Mufid Abdulla)
  14. Soldiers Help Preserve Archeological Sites By Sergeant Sean Kimmons (PDF; 147 kB)
  15. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History IES Edwards, John Boardman, John B. Bury, SA Cook., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 178-179.
  17. a b Sean Kane: Iraq's Disputed Territories. United State Institue of Peace, 2011, SS 22 , accessed on August 2, 2018 .
  18. ↑ Car bomb explodes in front of the church in Kirkuk. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . August 2, 2011, accessed August 2, 2011 .
  19. Iraq crisis: Kurds control Kirkuk. In: Spiegel Online . June 12, 2014, accessed June 9, 2018 .
  20. IS terrorist militia attacks Kirkuk
  21. Peshmerga conquer IS oil field
  22. Kurds attack terrorist militia near the oil town of Kirkuk
  25. ^ "Islamic State" carried out several attacks in Northern Iraq
  26. Attack on Kirkuk and chemical fire push troops back from Mosul frontline , at: The Guardian (October 22, 2016)
  27. Battle is on over Iraq's oil-rich Kirkuk region ; Kurdish Kirkuk factions to begin referendum talks with other groups ; Will Kirkuk finally break away from Iraq? “Unacceptable” says Baghdad ; This oil-rich province wants to break away from Iraq
  30. ^ : Kurds put fighters on standby
  31. Iraq's army starts military operation against Kurds in Kirkuk
  32. Background: Iraq and the Kurds. Retrieved October 17, 2017 .
  33. ^ Milliyet of April 1, 2007
  34. Iraq: Kirkuk Referendum Likely To Be Delayed , Radio Free Europe , accessed September 14, 2007
  35. Iraqi Parliament paves the way for election , article by Der Spiegel from November 8, 2009
  36. Archived copy ( memento of the original from September 10, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /