Iraq refuses talks with Kurds unless they commit to unity
The Iraqi government said on Thursday it would not hold talks with the Kurdish autonomous region on reopening its airports and providing dollars for its banks, unless the Kurds commit to “Iraq’s unity”, APA reports quoting Sputnik.
Iraq’s central government imposed a ban on direct international flights to the autonomous Kurdish region after the Kurds held a Sept 25 referendum on independence, which Baghdad says was illegal. It is calling for its neighbors to shut the landlocked region’s borders.
Among other measures to isolate the Kurdish region, Baghdad stopped selling dollars to four Kurdish-owned banks and called for a halt to its independent crude oil sales.
The Kurds have repeatedly called for negotiations following the referendum in which an overwhelming majority voted for independence.
“To avoid this collective punishment, we invite (Iraqi Prime Minister) Haider al-Abadi, again, ... (to) any form of dialogue and negotiations in conformity with the Iraqi Constitution,” the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement.
It offered discussions “regarding the crossings, internal trade, providing services to the citizens, the banks and the airports.”
But Baghdad has said the Kurds must disavow the referendum result as a pre-condition for any talks. Asked about the latest offer, an Iraqi government spokesman said there could be no talks until the Kurds gave a “commitment to Iraq’s unity”.
The KRG “must accept the sovereign authority of the federal government on (..) oil exports, security and border protection, including land and air entry points,” he told Reuters.
The Kurds, who have sought an independent state for generations, say their referendum was meant to be the start of a negotiation that would see them gain independence after agreement with the Iraqi government.
But Baghdad considered the vote illegal, especially as it was held not only in territory that forms part of the Kurdish autonomous region, but also in disputed neighboring parts of Iraq occupied by Kurdish troops.
Iraq has maintained its tough line toward the Kurds with support of neighbors Turkey and Iran, which strongly oppose the secessionist movement. Washington, long friendly with the Kurds, had also called on them before the referendum to cancel it.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Thursday Turkey would gradually close border crossings with northern Iraq in coordination with the central Iraqi government and Iran.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is expected to visit Baghdad on Sunday to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abadi.
On Wednesday, the Kurdish authorities accused Iraqi forces and Iranian-trained Iraqi paramilitaries of “preparing a major attack” on the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and the area near Mosul. Both are in parts of northern Iraq outside the Kurdish autonomous region but held by Kurdish forces since Islamic State fighters were driven out. [L8N1MM5J1]
Baghdad has denied it has plans for a military move against the Kurds.
Abadi said on Thursday he would not use the army against the Kurdish region, and a military spokesman denied any attack on Kurdish forces was planned, saying government troops were preparing to oust Islamic State militants from an area near the Syrian border.
“We won’t use our army against our people or to launch a war against our Kurdish citizens,” Abadi said in a statement.
Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council issued arrest warrants on Wednesday for the chairman of the Kurdish referendum commission and two aides for “violating a valid court ruling” banning the independence vote as against the Constitution.
Kirkuk, a Kurdish-held, multi-ethnic city and surrounding province with large oil reserves, has emerged as a flashpoint in the crisis as it is claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds.
Iraqi forces and Shi‘ite Muslim paramilitaries, known as Popular Mobilisation, are deployed south and west of Kirkuk, in areas previously under the control of
The Iraqi government spokesman said the KRG must acknowledge the authority of the federal government over Kirkuk as another pre-condition for talks.
The area around al-Qaim, where the Euphrates river crosses into Iraq from Syria, is the last part of Iraq still under the control of Islamic State fighters, who overran a third of the country in 2014.
On Thursday, the Iraqi military dropped leaflets on al-Qaim urging the militants to surrender or face death.
IS also holds areas on the Syrian side of the border, but is retreating there in the face of two sets of hostile forces - a U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led coalition and Syrian government troops with foreign Shi‘ite militias backed by Iran and Russia.
Islamic State’s cross-border “caliphate” effectively collapsed in July when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces captured Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, after a nine-month battle.
Related news releases
- 24.06.2018Russian military demines Syria's Al-Naseriyah, South Douma
- 24.06.2018Senior Iranian Commander killed in Syria
- 24.06.2018Landmark day for Saudi women as kingdom's controversial driving ban ends
- 23.06.2018Turkey neutralizes at least 11 PKK terrorists in ops
- 23.06.20186 killed in landslide in Myanmar's northernmost state
- 22.06.2018Turkish army neutralizes 87 PKK terrorists in a week
- 22.06.2018Saudi-led coalition faces tough battle for Yemen's Hodeidah port
- 21.06.2018Trump: North Korea blowing up test sites, 'total denuclearization...has already started'
- 21.06.2018Syria’s Idlib rocked by twin bombings; 5 killed
- 21.06.2018North Korea preparing to destroy ICBM test site
- 21.06.201810 killed in road accident in NW Pakistan
- 21.06.2018Turkish airstrikes cause serious losses to PKK in Iraq
- 20.06.2018More than 240 undocumented migrants held across Turkey
- 20.06.2018Iran says no plans to increase missile range, rejects talks with Trump
- 20.06.2018North Korea expected to begin transferring remains of U.S. troops soon: officials
- 20.06.2018North Korea, China discuss 'true peace', denuclearization: KCNA
- 20.06.2018Uzbekistan starts direct negotiations with Taliban
- 20.06.2018Afghan president offers year of ceasefire to Taliban
- 19.06.2018Iran rules out OPEC deal as Russia, Saudi push for oil output hike
- 19.06.2018Russia, Saudi push for big hike in oil output despite Iran opposition
- 19.06.2018MERS kills scores in Saudi Arabia
- 19.06.2018North Korea's Kim in China; U.S., South Korea suspend military drill
- 19.06.2018US, Turkey start patrols in Manbij
- 19.06.2018Jordan’s king, Israeli PM hold discussions in Amman
- 18.06.2018Six Iraqis killed in Daesh ambush near Mosul: Official
- 18.06.2018US airstrikes kill 22 Hashd al-Shaabi fighters in Iraq
- 18.06.2018Turkish soldiers enter outer districts of north Syria's Manbij
- 16.06.2018Turkey hits 'critical gathering' of PKK in north Iraq
- 16.06.2018Blast taints cease-fire in Afghanistan, 20 killed
- 15.06.2018Yemen gov’t forces take Al-Hudaydah’s southern entrance
- 14.06.2018Kashmiri journalist shot dead
- 14.06.2018Moon celebrates peace as Koreas hold military talks
- 13.06.2018Arab states launch biggest assault of Yemen war with attack on main port
- 13.06.2018Russian military seize arms cache in Syria’s Homs province
- 13.06.2018Iraq: Al-Sadr allies with Fatah to form majority group
- 12.06.2018Trump: North Korea sanctions will remain, but ‘war games’ to end
- 12.06.2018Trump and Kim sign document following Singapore meeting
- 12.06.2018Ex-NBA star Rodman bursts in tears after historic Trump, Kim handshake
- 12.06.2018Trump and Kim complete extended format talks - UPDATED-1
- 12.06.2018U.S. unveils de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions
- 13.10.2017Turkish military convoy enters Syria's Idlib
- 13.10.2017Small Quake Rattles North Korea Nuclear Testing Grounds, Not Manmade: South Korea
- 13.10.2017US president’s anti-Iran speech pile of delusional claims: Rouhani
- 12.10.2017Israel starts preparations to withdraw from UNESCO
- 11.10.2017Rouhani: Nuclear deal 'big test' for parties
- 11.10.2017US flies bombers over Korean peninsula with South Korean, Japanese fighter jets