Iraq warns KRG against deploying peshmerga in Kirkuk, calls for joint administration

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 04.10.2017 19:32

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi warned the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Tuesday not to mobilize its armed peshmerga forces in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk and called for a joint administration in the governorate.

Abadi, however, did not elaborate on the further details on how the joint administration would work. The remarks came during the prime minister's weekly press conference at the government headquarters in Baghdad following a cabinet meeting.

"I warn of the actions of the region's military mobilization in Kirkuk, it is dangerous. ... The imposition of a status quo by force over the disputed areas is unacceptable," he said.

The Kirkuk governorate, along with parts of the governorates of Nineveh and Saladin in northern Iraq and Diyala in eastern Iraq, are disputed between Baghdad and the KRG. The governorates are populated by a mixture of ethnic Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens.

Abadi called for a joint administration in the multi-ethnic northern city of Kirkuk and other areas claimed by his both his government and the KRG, provided that Baghdad were to hold the top role in such an arrangement. This was seen as a further attempt to assert Baghdad's authority on the disputed areas.

Earlier, the federal parliament in Baghdad raised the threat of excluding Kurdish members who took part in the referendum on the basis that it was unconstitutional.

Iraqi parliament decided to collect the names of those who voted in the referendum as a step toward their impeachment by the Higher Federal Court, speaker Salim al-Jabouri told a news conference after the session, which was boycotted by most Kurdish deputies.

Jabouri said he is willing to open dialogue with the KRG to resolve disputes, but ruled out talks on independence. Kurdish peshmerga fighters took control of Kirkuk in 2014, when Iraqi forces collapsed and fled Daesh's advance across northern Iraq.

On Sept. 25, Iraqis in KRG-held areas and in several areas disputed between Baghdad and Irbil, including Kirkuk, voted to declare independence from Iraq. The KRG administration mobilized additional peshmerga forces in Kirkuk hours before the vote began to secure the referendum, which has been called illegal.

According to the results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence. The referendum faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors, many of whom warned that it would distract from Iraq's ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the already volatile region.

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