Former Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari speaking to Rudaw TV on October 11, 2017. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - A prominent Kurdish politician confirmed on Wednesday that there were “abnormal movements” by Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi groups after the liberation of Hawija and in Mosul region towards Peshmerga held territories.
In parts of his interview with Rudaw TV, Hoshiyar Zebari a senior Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) member also explained Turkey and Iran’s current "calm stances" on the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.
“We feel some dangers. There are some abnormal movements. According to knowledge with the Kurdish leadership, there are no plans for military attacks on the Kurdistan Region, but there are some maneuvers by the Hashd al-Shaabi getting closer to the Peshmerga frontline after Hawija was liberated,” said Zebari, adding “there are some other moves in Mosul, too.”
Commenting on a tweet earlier this evening made by the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) which warned of "major attacks" on Kurdistan by Iraqi forces, Zebari said “the Kurdistan Region Security Council has intelligence knowledge on the Iraqi forces movements on the Kurdistan Region borders.”
Zebari added the tweet was to inform the “whole world of such subject because the Iraqi parliament has authorized Haider al-Abadi as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces to preserve the integrity of Iraq.”
He added that the Kurdistan Region “sees its interests. On this regard, there have been preparations by the Peshmerga. We have said we are ready for talks after the referendum to resolve the problems peacefully. We are not resorting to arms and violence against the Iraqi forces and we will not take the initiative for any possibility.”
“If we are attacked,” Zebari said, “we will certainly respond.”
Concerning possible attacks by the Iraqi government to bring under its control oilfields in Kirkuk, Zebari said “it will not be easy to do so.”
“Perhaps, the Iraqi government might have many intentions, but it certainly will not be easy to do so. Because there are many agreements between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region on Kirkuk oil,” he said.
He warned “if any attempt is made to forcefully and without agreement control the oilfields, the Peshmerga forces and the Kurdistan Regional Government will certainly not be silent and today’s warning released by the KRSC falls within the same context.”
He hinted that Baghdad’s continued harsh measures against the Kurdistan Region in response to the referendum would pave the way “to strengthen our case of statehood.”
“The measures Baghdad has taken against us which include imposing sanctions, punishments, military threats, deteriorating the conditions of people, closing Kurdistan airports, working together with neighboring counties and the decisions the Iraqi parliament made are all evidence that life with Iraq is impossible.”
Iran's and Turkey's stance on referendum
The former Iraqi finance and foreign minister said Ankara and Tehran have leniency in their positions towards the Kurdistan Region. He also said there are continued talks with the neighboring countries.
“Up to date, there have been talks with the neighboring countries. If you want to know the facts, there are talks with Turkey, Baghdad, America and other countries.”
“But Turkey’s main complaint is that it came as a surprise to them saying you are our friends and they had to inform us in advance," Zebari said.
He went on to add “our relations with Turkey and Iran have continued, not necessarily face to face but through phone calls and other means. “
He believes Iran’s stance against the Kurdistan Region is not overly harsh on the referendum.
“The attendance of Mohammed Javad Zarifi, the foreign minister of Iran in the burial procession of Mam Jalal in Sulaimani was a message in itself,” he said.
He went to add that “practically, the borders have not been closed down, traffic is normal. Only oil derivatives have stopped which is one of the considerable measures. Otherwise, all the other things are normal.”
He also explained that in the High Political Council of Kurdistan’s meeting earlier in the day, it was discussed that that there were no threats by Iran and Turkey on the Kurdistan Region, militarily.
“Today we evaluated the post-ISIS phase on the ground and that of the world neighboring countries and Iraq. It turned out to us that there are no possibilities of incursion by Turkey and Iran. On the contrary, there is information that Iranian forces have withdrawn after their military exercise with Iraq on the border.”