ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish bloc in the Iraqi parliament said on Thursday that recent statements of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on a key national issue are attempts at disrupting the current “positive political atmosphere” in the country.
During a meeting with a lawmaker from the Iraqi Turkmen Front party on Wednesday, Abadi, who failed to secure re-election to a second term in the last national election, said he rejected any political “deals” that aim to normalize the situation Kirkuk Province.
The comments are a likely reference to the prospect of an agreement to bring back Kurdish Peshmerga forces that secured the province before October 2017.
Abadi’s words are “aimed at destabilizing the positive political atmosphere in Iraq,” a statement by Baghdad lawmakers from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said.
Kirkuk, home to Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians, is the epicenter of contention between Erbil and Baghdad and the most prominent of the territories disputed by the two.
Article 140 was introduced into the Iraqi constitution to allow its 2005 ratification by kicking controversial decisions on the disputed territories down the road, but over a decade has passed since the 2007 deadline for the article's implementation.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kurds living in disputed territories believe the matter was settled after a majority, including in Kirkuk, voted that they favored secession from Iraq in Kurdistan’s bid for independence in September 2017.
Shortly after, on Oct. 16, Iraqi security forces along with Hashd al-Shaabi militias overran the contested areas and forced Kurdish Peshmerga to retreat. Baghdad then installed Rakan Saeed al-Jabouri as governor of Kirkuk, ousting Najmaldin Karim, a Kurd who enjoyed enormous support among various ethnic and religious groups.
These actions came when Abadi, leader of the al-Nasr or Victory coalition, was Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
The Kurdish lawmakers' statement pointed out that Baghdad and Erbil’s current increased level of cooperation is “the result of President Barzani’s visit and meetings with leaders and political parties in Baghdad.” In November, Masoud Barzani, the leader of the KDP, visited Baghdad and Najaf to meet with senior Iraqi leaders about a variety of topics.
The KDP statement stressed the importance of the presence of "joint and local forces" in Kirkuk that are capable of protecting all populations who live in the province.
The statement also claimed that the atmosphere was now ripe to put an end to “the militarization” of the disputed province, for which they blamed the “wrong policies” of Abadi’s government that “violated” the Iraqi constitution.
Editing by John J. Catherine