ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday called on Kurdish Peshmerga Forces to work “side by side” with Iraqi Forces in disputed areas, especially in the Kurdistan Region’s province of Kirkuk.
“We are one country, with common interests, and federal authority must be applied according to the Constitution, both with regards the border and the disputed areas,” Abadi said at a press conference in Paris following his meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron.
“I call on Peshmerga Forces to work together, as we [Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga Forces] did in the battle for Mosul,” he said. “We have to continue to be united in the disputed areas.”
Abadi specifically called Peshmerga troops to fall under the command of the federal forces but cautioned it was aimed at “providing security for all citizens and for restoring stability to these areas.”
“We do not want any confrontation or clashes, but we must impose federal authority, and no one can violate the federal authority in these areas,” Abadi declared.
The Iraqi Prime Minister’s comments come as Baghdad continues to ramp up its measures against the Kurdistan Region in retaliation to the Sep. 25 referendum on independence, for which the ‘Yes’ vote won with an overwhelming majority, including the diverse and oil-rich region of Kirkuk.
On Tuesday, Abadi called for a “joint administration” of Kirkuk and other disputed areas, with Baghdad having the ultimate authority under such an arrangement.
“My call is for the Peshmerga to become a part of the Iraqi national forces, under the Iraqi Federal Government’s command, and to work with ours forces to implement Iraq’s authority in all these areas,” he said on Thursday in Paris, specifying that this would only apply to the disputed territories.
The Peshmerga is the armed forces of the Kurdistan Region and is not under the command or control of the Iraqi government. It has played a decisive role in fighting the Islamic State (IS) and staving off threats from its borders.
According to the Iraqi constitution, the Peshmerga is part of Iraq’s defense system, but the Iraqi government has not supplied the Peshmerga with weapons or military training and has not taken any responsibilities towards the Peshmerga, Erbil has previously stated.
Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga signed a deal last week regarding the military operation to retake the city of Hawija, which is being supported by the US-led coalition, allowing for Peshmerga forces to remain in areas they currently control.