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Iraqi VP Allawi warns of ‘civil war’ over Kirkuk if referendum talks fail

By Rudaw 10/10/2017
Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi. AP photo
Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi. AP photo

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Iraq’s Vice President Ayad Allawi has warned of the ignition of a possible “civil war” over the oil rich city of Kirkuk if Baghdad and Erbil do not reach a resolution over their soaring tensions which emerged after the Kurdistan Region held a referendum for independence which included the ethnically diverse Kurdish administrated areas.

Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Allawi urged President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, Baghdad and Shiite militia groups to resolve their disagreements over Kirkuk, defined as Kurdistani by the Region and disputed by Baghdad.

Allawi, warned that any attempt by the Hashd al-Shaabi’s Asaib al-Haq to march towards Kirkuk city would “damage all possibilities for unifying Iraq” and open the door to “violent conflict.”

“The government claims they control the Popular Mobilization Forces. If they do they should restrain them, rather than go into a kind of civil war. And there should be a restraint on Masoud Barzani and the Peshmerga not to take aggressive measures to control these lands,” said Allawi.

The head of the Asaib al-Haq militia Qais Khazali warned worshippers in a sermon Sunday that Iraq’s Kurds were planning to claim much of north Iraq, including Kirkuk, as an independent state.

He said it would be tantamount to a “foreign occupation,” according to remarks reported by the Afaq TV channel, which is close to the state-sanctioned militia.

Despite mounting pressures from Baghdad, neighboring and world countries, the Kurdistan Region held a referendum on independence from Iraq which included Kirkuk. 

The Kurdish authorities have on several occasions explained that holding the referendum in the disputed areas was not to draw borders but for the people to express their opinion.

The Iraqi government has passed a number of punitive measures, including a ban on international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region; a measure the Kurdistan government has called “collective punishment.” It has also officially demanded Kurdistan’s neighbors, both Turkey and Iran, to close their land borders with the Kurdistan Region and help bring Kurdish oil exports under the control of federal authorities.

The Iraqi government opposed Kurdistan’s popular vote that took place on September 25 and has called for the vote to be annulled, a measure Erbil has rejected.

Turkey and Iran have also threatened punitive measures against the Region.

Allawi in his interview with the AP also warned against opening the door to foreign interference.

“Kirkuk has become a flashpoint,” said Allawi. “Iraqis should be left alone to discuss their own problems.”

Earlier this week the Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani called on Baghdad to resolve its internal outstanding issues directly with Erbil, not Ankara or Tehran

Allawi was in Erbil over the weekend to attend the funeral of Jalal Talabani the former Iraqi president and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) where he met in Sulaimani with Barzani and along with Osama al-Nujaifi also a vice president backing dialogue 

Following their meeting with Barzani, Allawi told Rudaw that the punitive measures taken by Iraq against the Kurdistan Region should be stopped, that “the Kurdish nation should not be punished and dialogue should be pursued.”

Both Allawi and Nujaifi reaffirmed to Rudaw that the solution to the problems between the two governments should be “Iraqi,” instead of coming from outside the country.

But shortly afterwards, the Iraqi government said that it was not necessarily committed to the outcome of ongoing talks between the Kurdish leadership and two of the Iraqi vice presidents that called to cancel the punitive measures taken against Erbil and for talks between the two sides to begin without any pre-conditions.


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Kurdish State | 10/10/2017
Kirkuk and the other so-called "disputed areas" are Kurdish territories taken by dictator Saddam during his genocidal war on Kurds .No return to genocide .
Harman | 10/10/2017
We'd rather die than live under the yoke of these Persian bastards. History teaches that one can not live freedom without martyrdom. Every centimeter of our country's Kurdistan is soaked with the blood of our martyrs, our peshmargas. And now bowing for the threat of Mongolian nomads and Persian bastards will mean eternal humiliation for our people. We'd rather die than live as slaves of these barbarians
Muraz Adzhoev | 10/10/2017
There’s absolutely nothing concerning Kirkuk and all other inalienable areas of Southern Kurdistan to be discussed with Baghdad and no way especially with the so called PMF or the Hashd al-Shaabi, Asaib al-Haq Shi’ite militia groups. Never. And there are absolutely no preconditions and “possibilities to unify” deadly failed Iraqi arab islamic federation with democratic, social, secular federative Southern Kurdistan. It is absolute impossible and unreasonable to unite something obviosely incompatible. Certainly that is too much doubtfully reasonable to be done even within a confederative union between newly established Iraqi Shiite-Sunni federation and sovereignly independent Southern Kurdistan federation. Anyway Baghdad first has to recognize state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Southern Kurdistan to start negotiations concerning a confederation.
duroi | 10/10/2017
There is always the option of removing al-Ebadi from power by the Iraqi president's request and the Iraqi president taking charge. PM Ebadi is more of a puppet in Baghdad reacting to other puppets themselves in the hand of Ayatollahs in Iran. Kurds should be negotiating with the master puppeteers, and remind them of their slogans "Karbala, we are coming" and offer them in the next dialogue to take Karbala now by a Karbala peace treaty between Iran and Iraq or shut up and stop chanting empty slogans. If the Shiites in Iran are hesitant to live with Shiite Arabs in a country, why do they expect the Sunni Kurds stay within Iraq with them?
truth | 11/10/2017
baghdad is disputed area. over 2 million kurds already live there. and baghdads name is kurdish, theres no such thing as baghdad in arabic.

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