Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, right, salutes security forces and volunteer fighters at a camp in Habaniyah, Iraq. AP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – In a series of controversial remarks on Tuesday Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that though they had plans to return to the pre-2014 borders with the Kurdistan Region his forces did in fact reach what once marked the line between the autonomous Kurdish region and Iraq up to 2003, claiming that all territories were retaken without a fight.
Abadi’s remarks made at a weekly press briefing that there had been no clashes with the Kurdish forces contrasted the reality that saw several days of heavy fighting on multiple fronts between both sides particularly south of Kirkuk, Pirde and Zummar area.
“We do not seek confrontation with the Kurdistan regional government,” Abadi said in a series of tweets later in the day. “We applied federal authority in disputed areas peacefully and border crossings must come under federal jurisdiction. I call on the KRG to cooperate with these measures to improve transparency and accountability.”
Thousands of civilians fled Tuz Khurmatu, Kirkuk and other areas as a result of Iraqi army and Shiite militia advances in mid-October and dozens lost their lives trying to flee.
"We will continue this way and we will not withdraw from our demands," the Iraqi premier said at the press briefing. "We achieved more than what was expected and the Iraqi parliament's decree was to return to 2014 [borderlines]."
Abadi said in a separate tweet following speaking to reporters: “As mandated by the constitution, we are committed to maintaining Iraq’s unity, applying federal jurisdiction in all areas, providing security and ensuring stability for the benefit of all of our citizens, especially those in the Kurdistan region.”
His government has so far ignored calls from Erbil for dialogue on all disputes based on the Iraqi constitution.
KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Monday that his government continues to call for dialogue and urged Baghdad to engage in talks for the sake of lasting stability and an end to the current deadlock.
“We repeat our call that we must solve all the problems through the constitution and dialogue,” PM Barzani told reporters.
To Iraqi leaders, PM Barzani said, “We should ask ourselves: Do we want lasting stability in Iraq or do we want these crises to continue? If we want stability then we must forget this mentality of strong versus weak.”