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US must prevent Kurd-Iraq conflict under Iran influence: Ex-ambassador

By Rudaw 12/10/2017
Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. AP file photo
Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. AP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A former American ambassador to Iraq has called for the US to act in order to prevent possible conflict between Kurds and Iraqis, which he alleged was being stirred up under Iran’s influence. 

Responding on Twitter to news Wednesday night that Iraqi forces, including the Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, were preparing for a “major attack” on Kurdistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, former US ambassador to Iraq, said Iranian Quds commander Qassem Soleimani is in Iraq, pushing the Shiite forces to attack Kirkuk. 

“Active US engagement needed to prevent conflict,” he stated. 

Khalilzad served as US ambassador to Iraq from 2005 to 2007, after which he was named ambassador to the UN, serving until 2009.

Wednesday evening, the Kurdistan Region Security Council announced they had received “dangerous messages” that Iraqi forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi were preparing “major attacks” against Kurdistan. 

Kurdish politician Hoshiyar Zebari, the former Iraqi finance and foreign minister, confirmed to Rudaw that they had seen “abnormal movements” of the Hashd in the Hawija and Mosul areas towards Peshmerga-held territory. 

A Shabak activist group said Wednesday evening they had seen “large movements” of Hashd al-Shaabi forces in Mosul and its eastern suburb Gogjali “for unknown reasons.”

Rudaw cannot independently confirm that Qassem Soleimani is in Iraq, as Khalilzad alleged, but the Quds commander was spotted in Iraq several times during the war against ISIS.

The US is being challenged to check growing Iranian influence in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Drafts amending the law that requires US Donald Trump to certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal also include measures on Iranian activities throughout the region, according the Associated Press. 

Trump is due to make a speech on Iran this week. 

Following Kurdistan’s September 25 independence referendum, the Iraqi parliament called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to deploy forces to disputed areas, which include Kirkuk and areas of Nineveh province. 

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in a statement directed at Abadi, said they would hold him responsible for any clashes after he has made several comments warning the Peshmerga not to deter activities of Iraqi forces in disputed areas. 

Despite the unwavering stances taken publicly on all sides, Zebari told Rudaw on Wednesday that the Kurdish leadership are engaged in talks with several countries, including the US, Turkey, and indeed Baghdad.


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duroi | 12/10/2017
As long as the duo Tillerson and MacMaster are in charge, I am not optimistic of US change of policy. We need to increase the cost for Baghdad for any military confrontation. KRG needs to put the destruction of Baghdad on the table now. After the destruction of Baghdad, Kurdish forces from Mandali/Badreh can march or hover cruise southward and capture all oil rich areas south of Sirwan river and east of Tigris excluding Basrah, sitting on the other side of Tigris. With some luck and planning with allies, the military threat can even be turned into a golden opportunity to open the alFaw-OmolQasr gateway to Persian Gulf for land-locked Kurdistan, considering that Turkey is blocking Kurd access to Med Sea.
pre-Boomer Marine brat | 12/10/2017
The infamous "Chicken Ranch" in Pahrump, Nevada (USA), was once touted as the world's largest whorehouse. ... Judging by all the IRGC traffic into Baghdad, it apparently has been overtaken by Haider al-Abadi's Government.
Andy | 12/10/2017
Irag will be a disintegrated country Uneliable country where without Americans it become null and void It is right time for the American sources their resources to Kurds who are reliable secular Warrior . The investments America invested In Iraq will be waste. It is right time USA Recognize Kurdistan and back them millitarly and economically to protects other minorities In the region as Yazidis , without the pesmarga Fighters the race become extinct in Iraq
roger | 12/10/2017
duroi: Another instigator of war is not a good idea. Do you speak for all Kurds and the KRG ???
Seyed | 12/10/2017
I hope all kurdish parties. Get signal and be one and get ready for this sooner or later shia militia they will attack kurdistan. Even though peshmerga gonna defend kurdistan but these militia they will try to destroy kurdish city .they good at destroying like they did in mousol nobody talks about mousol because nothing left of it
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