Chancellor Masrour Barzani (R) meets with Deputy Commanding General of CJTF-OIR Major General Walter Piatt, June 4, 2018. Photo: Kurdistan Region Security Council
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – US and Kurdish officials agree the Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) must urgently reach a settlement and rebuild trust following the October events to focus on eliminating ISIS in Kirkuk and the disputed areas, according to a statement from the Kurdistan Region Security Council.
On Monday, Masrour Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, and Major General Walter Piatt, the Deputy Commanding General of the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS, met to discuss security and political developments in Iraq.
They discussed ongoing ISIS activities in Mosul, Salahaddin, Anbar and Kirkuk in particular, as well as the next phase in the anti-ISIS campaign, including in Syria.
“On that, Chancellor Barzani said that Kirkuk was safer under Peshmerga control and urged Major General Piatt to use the road map outlined in Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution as a guiding principle,” the statement said.
Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution calls for the normalization of areas it refers to as disputed, to be followed by a referendum on whether or not those regions want to be part of the Kurdistan Region.
According to the constitution, the article should have been implemented by the end of 2007, yet so far no referendum has been conducted regarding this issue.
“He also raised the importance of aligning political and security efforts to rebuild Peshmerga-ISF trust and achieve a settlement. During the meeting, both officials also expressed concern that ISIL has used Peshmerga-ISF security gaps to increase terrorist activities,” the statement added.
The ISF took over Kirkuk and other disputed territories on October 16, 2017, amid a Peshmerga withdrawal in the aftermath of the Kurdish independence referendum.
Since then, the ISF, federal police, and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi forces have taken the city’s security into their own hands.
Since October 16, however, the security situation in Kikruk has deteriorated. Reports of killings, explosions, kidnappings, and nighttime shootings have risen.
Prior to the Iraqi government's declaration of a victory over ISIS, Kurdish security officials warned of an ISIS resurgence or evolution that would necessitate a Peshmerga return.