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Zebari warns of 'abnormal movement' by Shiite militia near Peshmerga frontline

By Rudaw 11/10/2017
Former Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari speaking to Rudaw TV on October 11, 2017. Photo: Rudaw
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.”   


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Shkak | 12/10/2017
May God preserve and protect the Kurdish state.
FAUthman | 12/10/2017
These comments by Zebari are extremely important and having read them I totally rule out further deterioration in the KRG relationship with Baghdad Ankara and Tehran, esp. the latter two, and have resumed my optimistic outlook!
Neriman | 12/10/2017
Iraq, turkey and Iran had agreed to collaborate against the Kurdish referendum. Their first action was a threatening message and military manures on Kurdistan boarders to scare people of kurdistan, but when both America and Russia disagreed on invading kurdistan I believe there was a change of plan to put harsh embargo on kurdistan instead to make the people suffer and hopefully abandon the referendum. Iraq may felt that the embargo wouldn't work in the long run therefore it has to do something decisive especially the elections are close. I believe they will try to start a fight and make small trouble to scare the people of kurdistan. Thus obviously will not work again as the Kurds are ready for them and may go agains their plans as the Kurds will get more support from America.
Hum | 12/10/2017
Do not let your guard down, "withdrawing" some forces from the border doesn't mean Iran/Turkey might not suddenly launch an attack. They can withdraw forces 50 kilometers away and redeploy them in half a day. Infiltrate these countries deep and closely follow their troop movements. Another factor is that they might just use the Shia militias for an attack in Kurdistan so that 1. They don't get bogged down themselves 2. They don't draw the attention of the US, the Shia militias are after all a recognized Iraqi force.
James C. Baker | 12/10/2017
If the American's don't want this conflict out of hand they should warn the Iraqi forces that any move on any Kurdish positions will be met with a response by coalition air strikes. That's enough to deter any side from using force, it will force both sides to sit down and work it out. If they don't want to do that and want to see another war in Iraq than at least they can make sure that Iran and Turkey don't give the Shia militias air support intelligence and reconnaissance

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