Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish Peshmerga forces should be expected to return to the positions they held prior to the Oct. 17 Mosul operations to liberate the city from ISIS, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview.
"There's an agreement [that existed] before we started the offensive to liberate Mosul between the KRG, the Kurdish Regional Government, and the Iraqi federal government that we work together, they help liberate the Iraqi security forces in liberating Mosul,” Abadi told France 24 in an interview. “On this basis, there is an agreement and cooperation for Iraqi security forces to go through the KRG and they launch their offensive from the KRG area into Mosul.”
Abadi added that he expects Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to respect that agreement.
"I think President Barzani has said publicly that he would respect this agreement, that they will go back to the original line, where they have started before the 17th of October. And to run these areas, or the other areas that they call 'disputed areas,' we have to run them together. We agree we start… in Sinjar and other areas to run between Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga together to provide security for the population.”
The disputed territories in both Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces, claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad, are a sticking point in relations between the two governments.
Kurdish authorities have said they have extended their territories by as much as 40 percent since 2014. In mid-November, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani said that an agreement was in place between his government, and the governments of Iraq and the United States that the Kurdish forces would not withdraw from lands they reclaimed from ISIS before the start of the Mosul operation.
For territory taken from ISIS after the start of the Mosul operation on October 17, Barzani said the Peshmerga would help locals to defend their own lands.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution outlines the steps that should be taken to resolve the status of disputed areas – including a referendum to determine who should exercise control in these regions.
Abadi was asked in the interview if he expected violence between the KRG and the government of Iraq.
"No, we have to move away from this,” he said. “This we have to put in our back. No fighting between Arabs and Kurds, no fighting between Shiite and Sunni. We decided that we should work together to save God everyone to provide security. If we work together, we will provide security, we will provide services to the people and we are serving the people, then.”