ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Disputes between Erbil and Baghdad are political and using the military against Erbil is unconstitutional and will not resolve anything, a Kurdish official said on Sunday.
“We, as the Peshmerga Ministry of the Kurdistan Region, are fully confident that issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq can be resolved through dialogue. The use of the military does not address any issues; it only makes the situation more complicated. The use of force to resolve political differences is unconstitutional,” Jabar Yawar, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Peshmerga said in a press conference.
He stated that the disputes between Erbil and Baghdad are political, not military, claiming there no conflicts between the Peshmerga Ministry and Iraqi Defense Ministry.
“Peshmerga and Iraqi troops along with other forces have been fighting against the Islamic State (IS) hand in hand, and they continue to fight and protect the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq from any threats,” Yawar added.
The Kurdish official referred to Article 9 of the Iraqi Constitution which prevents the use of the military to resolve political disagreements. He also invoked Article 121, which recognizes the Peshmerga Forces as an official body of Iraq's national defense system.
“Still to this day, the Kurdistan Region is part of the federal country of Iraq. Its population and the Peshmerga are part of Iraq’s people. The use of military force against Iraqi citizens is forbidden according to Article 9 of the Iraqi Constitution,” he said.
He reiterated support for dialogue, stating most of the points of contention are related to Article 140, the Kurdistan Region's budget share and other outstanding issues that have gone a decade without any resolution.
Yawar noted that IS was nearing its end in Iraq but warned the extremist ideology and terrorist activities would persist, here and abroad, if efforts are not exerted to diminish its influence.
He described the October 16 as a crisis between Erbil and Baghdad and that Baghdad had given 48 hours for Peshmerga to prepare for the deployment of Iraqi forces to secure disputed territories. He asserted the given timeframe was insufficient to properly coordinate and help with the mobilization of Iraqi troops over a 1,050-kilometer area.
The Peshmerga official stated that before the October 16 attack, the KRG called for the implementation of the agreement signed before the Mosul operation with Baghdad, which was approved under the supervision of the US-led coalition, to avoid clashes but which the federal government has rejected.
“Unfortunately, since then [October 16], 60 Peshmerga have been martyred and over 150 wounded.”
Tensions remain despite Peshmerga and Iraqi forces delegations holding three meetings in a bid to resolve the crisis. The last meeting was held on Nov. 2.
“Iraqi forces and Peshmerga delegation each had seven separate points to discuss. Some of the demands were quite similar, but some were not.”
He added that no agreements so far have been signed, claiming the federal government wants exclusive control over all border gates within the Kurdistan Region, but that the Peshmerga are urging for a joint administration of the security in those areas.
Yawar stated that the Peshmerga Ministry is ready to continue its talks with the Iraqi Forces. “Political problems are not our business. The KRG can send a delegation to Baghdad to discuss the issues related to Article 140, the budget, and oil fields consistent with the Constitution of Iraq.”
He mentioned that along with the KRG Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa, and the Chief-of-staff to the Kurdistan Region's Presidency, Fuad Hussein, have met with consuls and foreign representatives in the Kurdistan Region to discuss the current situation. They also asked them to lay the ground for dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to prevent another war from erupting.
The Kurdish official noted that on Monday, Karim Shingali, acting Peshmerga Minister, would meet with the representatives of the US-led coalition in Erbil and request they play their role to prevent further clashes between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces.
Editing by Nadia Riva