Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Kurdish parties opposed to Barzani report attacks on offices overnight

S Warnings issued as dust storm hits Kurdistan and Iraq Dust storm hits the capital of the Kurdistan Region Erbil
Melinda Barton | 30 October, 2017, 19:55

In a letter read out on his behalf during the regional government's parliamentary session on Sunday, Barzani said he would not contest the upcoming regional presidential election due on November 1.

Prime minister Haider al-Abadi said the central government is closely monitoring what he described as "attempts to create chaos and disorder" in Irbil and Dahuk, two cities in the Kurdish region.

Abadi called the independence referendum illegal. Recent weeks have seen tension skyrocket between the Iraqi military and Kurdish peshmerga forces, particularly around the disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk near the southern edge of KRG territory.

The region's air space was closed to global commercial flights, Turkey threatened the use of military force and Tehran and Ankara threatened to close border crossings vital to the land-locked region.

"The border restrictions between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan will be lifted in the coming days", the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Baqeri as saying on October 30. Within weeks, a backlash from the vote revealed Mr Barzani had miscalculated.

Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and the KRG since September 25, when Iraqis in KRG-held areas - and in several disputed areas, including Kirkuk - voted on whether or not to declare political independence.

"This is an assault on freedom of press and expression", replied Erbil-based Kurdistan 24's management in a letter to the International Federation of Journalists.

Iran has its own sizable Kurdish minority and has opposed independence for Iraqi Kurds.

While the Iraqi Kurds have mostly shown outward unity since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, they have a deep history of conflict between Mr Barzani's KDP and Talabani's Puk, which fought each other in a civil war in the 1990s. The PUK supported the vote half-heartedly.

Iraq's prime minister has called for calm in the self-ruled northern Kurdish region after rioting the previous night following the Kurdish regional president's decision to effectively step down.