Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says that he doubted the Kurdish Peshmerga consisted of hundreds of thousands and that the payroll was larger than the fighting force. File photo: AFP/Safin Hamed
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region –Kurdish Peshmerga forces must either come under Iraqi control or downsized to a small force paid by Erbil, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in interview on Monday.
Abadi said that Iraq’s federal authorities will impose exclusive control over all international entry points to and from the Kurdistan Region, including airports.
He said he doubted the Kurdish Peshmerga consisted of hundreds of thousands and that the payroll was larger than the fighting force.
“I am prepared to pay those Peshmerga under the control of the federal state. If they want to have their local small force – it must not be that large – then they must pay for it,” PM Abadi told the British Independent.
However, Safin Dizayee, the spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government said it has not yet been "officially" informed by the Iraqi government about paying the salaries of employees and the Peshmerga.
"We will officially respond whenever this is officially declared," he told Rudaw. "We haven’t yet been informed of this officially.”
Abadi said he wanted the Kurdish expenditures audited by the federal government, unlike the current arrangement that allows the Kurdistan Region to handle its own budget with little or no Baghdad oversight.
“All border crossings in and out of Iraq must be under the exclusive control of the federal state,” said PM Abadi whose forces took the oil-rich Kirkuk province from the Kurdish Peshmerga on October 16.
Kurdish and Iraqi security officials have held a series of talks to seek a possible truce in all areas and end the possibility of war over more territories held by the Kurds and demanded by Baghdad.
Turkey and Iran who share long borders the Kurdistan Region opposed the Kurdish independence vote that triggered the military confrontation and have cooperated with the Iraqi authorities in their punitive measures against Erbil.
The Turkish media reported on Tuesday that Turkish and Iraqi forces will be deployed to the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing following an official ceremony. Samal Abdulrahman, head of the Kurdish controlled land gate, told Rudaw that as of now no such deployment has taken place. He added that no contacts have been made in this regard.
PM Abadi said that the Turkish government now admit that “They made a mistake,” when they worked directly with Erbil in the past.
Chief of staff for Iran’s Supreme Leader, Mohamadi Gulpaigani, had stated that the fall of Kirkuk was based on instructions from Ayatollah Khamenei that were carried out by the commander of the Quds Force in order to spoil an American-Israeli plan to create an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, dubbing it a second Israel in the Middle East.
PM Abadi denied that Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, had played any role.
“He definitely didn’t have any military role on the ground in the crisis [over Kirkuk],” PM Abadi said. “I can assure you that he had zero impact on what happened in Kirkuk.”
Abadi told the Independent that the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces should not to play any role in the 2018 elections.
Last updated at 10:13 p.m. with KRG spokesperson statement.