ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Peshmerga commander spoke to Kurdistan 24 on Friday about worsening security in the province of Kirkuk and plans for a future delegation to Baghdad of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
“After the retreat of the Peshmerga forces from Kirkuk Province, instances of explosions, terrorist attacks have been on the rise and incidents of security failures have contributed to an increase in the risks to the lives of the people of the region,” said Kamal Kirkuki, a Peshmerga commander, KDP official, and former speaker of the Kurdistan Region's parliament.
Faced with the Oct. 16 military attack by Iraqi forces and Shia militias that followed the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum, Peshmerga forces withdrew from Kirkuk and other disputed territories they had been protecting from Islamic State (IS) attacks since 2014. In the months since the takeover, security in many of the disputed territories has deteriorated considerably.
Kurds, who make up the majority of the population in ethnically-diverse Kirkuk, have demanded the return of Peshmerga to the province to restore the security there.
On Wednesday, the US-led Coalition’s Deputy Commanding General for Transition Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt told Kurdistan 24 that the Peshmerga “have that spirit of a fighter” and spoke of a continuing relationship with Kurdish forces in a post-IS era.
Kirkuki also spoke of Iraqi politics, specifically, the role of the KDP in current negotiations in Baghdad.
"To form the next government and for talks of alliances, a delegation of the KDP will visit Baghdad after the Eid al-Fitr celebrations.”
He continued, “The KDP supports a government that reflects the values of true inclusivity and one where the rights of the Kurdish peoples are guaranteed,” reaffirming the previously-stated position of his party.
“No government will be successful without the Kurds.”
On Thursday, Kirkuki told Kurdistan 24 that "international efforts" were currently aimed at reopening the road linking the Kurdistan Region's capital of Erbil with Kirkuk, closed for nearly nine months.
“The Americans and British agree with us on the need to open the road between Erbil and Kirkuk. We have no objection to that, but the ball is in Baghdad’s court.”
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Bushman Sadiq)