ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – All international borders crossings to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region should be under the direct control of the federal government, Iraq's head of state reiterated on Monday.
“All border crossings in and out of Iraq must be under the exclusive control of the federal state,” the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi said during an interview with British media outlet The Independent.
He mentioned that it would not satisfy him to have federal government officials at the border gates as a symbolic gesture, only exclusive control of the borders and international flights, including the independent visa process the Kurdistan Region enjoyed thus far.
Abadi also proposed that Baghdad would pay the salary of Kurdish Peshmerga forces should they fall under the command of the Federal Government of Iraq.
“I am prepared to pay those Peshmerga under the control of the federal state. If they want to have their small local force – it must not be that large – then they must pay for it,” he added.
He addressed the issue of Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias anew, claiming they were all Iraqi, and that the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was either “misquoted or misinformed” when he remarked Iranian militias should leave Iraq earlier this month.
“We got the international community on our side,” Abadi said, referring to the current attacks on the Shia militia and Iraqi Forces on Kirkuk on October 16. “We made it very simple: we said the unity of Iraq is very important for combating terrorism.”
On Sep. 25, the Kurdistan Region held a referendum on independence in which 93 percent voted in favor of secession from Iraq.
Since then, relations between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated and led to the use of military force by Baghdad against the people of Kurdistan as Abadi labeled the vote “unconstitutional and illegal.”
Kurds around the world have criticized the tacit support of the central government's actions against the Kurdistan Region through their silence. Kurdish officials long lamented Baghdad's failure to properly implement the Iraqi Constitution, which enshrines and protects Kurdish rights and the existence of the Kurdistan Region.
Independence has been a long-awaited dream for Kurds around the world. They have been labeled as the largest stateless nation without a state with a population of over 40 million.
Editing by G.H. Renaud