Iraqi VP urges Baghdad to accelerate start of dialogue with Kurdistan
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi on Friday called on his government to accelerate the beginning of negotiations to resolve the dispute between Erbil and Baghdad and address the situation in Kirkuk.
During a press conference in Najaf, Allawi urged the Iraqi government “to expedite the resolution of the dispute with the Kurdistan Region.”
The relationship between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government has considerably deteriorated following Kurdistan’s Sep. 25 independence referendum.
The historic vote received extensive support for secession from Iraq, but Baghdad refused to recognize the results and instead responded by imposing collective punitive measures against Kurdistan, including the use of military force in disputed areas such as Kirkuk.
On Oct. 16, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias attacked Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk Province, taking control of the disputed region.
The Kurdish forces had protected the area during the Islamic State’s (IS) 2014 blitzkrieg in the country which included the collapse of the Iraqi army.
The Iraqi Vice President warned that the province of Kirkuk would transform into a “hotbed,” adding that “the situation should be addressed through dialogue and cooperation.”
The KRG has shown its flexibility, offering to freeze the results of the referendum and begin a dialogue, but Baghdad demands a full annulment of the plebiscite as a pre-condition before any negotiations can begin.
Oil-rich Kirkuk, one of the most disputed territories between the KRG and the Iraqi government, is home to a mixture of Kurds, Turkmens, Christians, Sunni and Shia Arabs, and other ethnic groups.