'Army will remain neutral despite political dispute'

Iraqi Defense Minister

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – During an exclusive interview aired on Tuesday, the Iraqi Defense Minister said that army will remain neutral among the political disputes between Baghdad and Erbil.

Khalid al-Obeidi, Iraqi Defense Minister told Kurdistan24 in a broadcasted interview that the army corporation will distance itself from any political tensions, assuring that no armed clashes will erupt between Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces.



Obeidi said that “all military commanders and the Iraqi government, including me as Minister of Defense, are convinced that the liberation of Nineveh operations requires high-level coordination with Kurdistan and must have a role in the liberation operation.”

Obeidi revealed that the political leadership in Kurdistan has shown great willingness to cooperate in liberating Nineveh, giving the example of high-level coordination between the Peshmerga forces and Iraqi army’s 91st brigade in Makhmour.

The Peshmerga may play back-up role via artillery and demining engineering teams in certain frontlines or may be a major force in the other frontlines, Obeidi explained.

Obeidi, who is assigned by the PM Haider al-Abadi to lead the Mosul operation, added that PM Abadi as Commander in Chief of the armed forces will decide on the participation of Peshmerga forces, Iraqi army and or the Hashd al-Shaabi in the operation.



Obeidi said that the Mosul operation against Islamic State (IS) is not related to the US presidential elections stating that the time for starting the operation is exclusively decided by Iraqis themselves.

According to Obeidi the approximated 500,000 to one million people currently living in Mosul and surrounding areas might be displaced.

He warned that a humanitarian catastrophe might occur which requires immediate international support before the beginning of the operation.



Obeidi thinks that independence of Kurdistan is not an easy, quick process and it needs time and preparations. Even if the Kurdistan Region leadership decided on independence, several steps should be taken before declaring it.

In response to the question whether the Iraqi army will use force against the Kurdistan Region due to the dispute on independence or the disputed areas, Obeidi said, "it will not reach the level of armed conflict. We as the military avoid interference in the political tensions.”

He stated that independence is an internal matter of the Kurdistan Region, but the focus now should be on fighting IS which is a real threat to the whole world.


Editing by Ava Homa