Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Iraq Issues Warrants for Kurdish Officials Involved in Independence Vote

Barzani complained to the United States Coalition should be notified Iraq Issues Warrants for Kurdish Officials Involved in Independence Vote
Melinda Barton | 13 October, 2017, 19:19

Iraq's prime minister on Tuesday warned the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) against mobilizing their armed Peshmerga forces in the disputed northern province of Kirkuk, Anadolu Agency reports.

Some residents queued at petrol stations with jerry cans to fill up, while other civilians have begun taking up arms.

"They will resist an Iraqi offensive at any cost", he said, before calling for global intervention with the federal government in Baghdad to prevent the situation deteriorating.

Iraq's government has taken a series of measures to isolate the region since the Kurds' Sept. 25 referendum on independence, including banning global flights from going there and pushing for a halt to its crude oil sales.

KRG authorities have repeatedly called for negotiations since the referendum, in which an overwhelming majority voted for independence.

The Peshmerga took control of Kirkuk when Iraqi defenses crumbled in the face of the advancing Islamic State group in 2014.

The Peshmerga, as the Kurdish force is known, withdrew from positions in the areas of Taza and Bashir, about 10 km south of Kirkuk, overnight, they said. "Some Kurds describe Kirkuk as their Jerusalem, and they are saying that they are not going to give up this city".

"We will not allow anyone to attack (Kirkuk)", Arass Faqih, another civilian holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle, told AFP.

Since then, the Iraqi army and the peshmerga have been key allies of the US-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State group.

Iraqi army reinforcements drive down a road, linking Hawija to Kirkuk, near the village of Khabbaz on October 7, 2017.

The peshmerga's Kirkuk commander, Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa, said his forces had withdrawn from areas they had entered during their fight against IS in the west of the province last week.

Some troops were busy daubing paint on cement blocks which had been stamped with the Kurdish flags.

"Baghdad would do better to find another way to resolve the problems than send troops", he said.

The Kirkuk province along with parts of the provinces of Nineveh, Saladin (northern Iraq) and Diyala (eastern Iraq) are disputed between Baghdad and the KRG and inhabited by a mixture of ethnic Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen.