ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Military conflict between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq is unlikely, according to the Iraqi Ambassador to Russia, despite heightened tensions following the Sep. 25 independence referendum.
In an interview with Russian news outlet TASS, Iraq’s Ambassador to Russia, Haidar Mansour Hadi, ruled out the possibility of open conflict between the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
“It is unlikely,” he said, noting the Iraqi government has other means “to ensure the stability and unity of Iraq.”
“I think both sides know that such conflict will not be good for either one,” Hadi said.
He asserted that the high-level coordination between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) reduced the likelihood of clashes between the two allied groups.
Baghdad has escalated its punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region after Erbil followed through with a vote on whether to secede from Iraq.
While the Iraqi Parliament has given Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi the mandate to use “whichever” means to maintain the integrity of Iraq, including military action, Baghdad has focused on sanctions.
Hadi stressed that unresolved issues could be addressed through dialogue and within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution.
According to him, the points of contention between Erbil and Baghdad revolve around the administration of Kirkuk, some areas that have been liberated from the militant group, as well as the issue of oil export.
The Iraqi Ambassador stated the situation had not affected oil exports. “Iraqi governments exports [oil] – it is business as usual. There are no drops [in production],” the diplomat said.
“The Iraqi government has made steps to get control of all oil exports and also of the borders with other countries like Syria, Turkey, and Iran,” Hadi said. “This is the responsibility of the Federal Government; it needs to control them in coordination with the Kurdistan Region.”
“Unfortunately, in the past, the Federal Government was not involved in oil exports from the Region and export of goods through borders,” he added. “But, now the Prime Minister made it clear that the Federal Government will have a say in these areas, on these and other borders, airports. That’s also under the constitution.”
On Sep. 25, the people of the Kurdistan Region and the disputed territories participated in a referendum on independence, with 92.7 percent voting for secession from Iraq.
Since then, the Iraqi Federal Government and parliament have taken harsh measures against the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, including a flight ban, barring Kurdish lawmakers from the Iraqi Parliament, and halting financial transfer to Kurdish banks as punishment for the vote.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany