KRG responds to Sadrist politician's charge that Kurdistan is part of 'terrorist line' from Turkey to Iraq

The autonomous Kurdistan Region’s Council of Ministers building. (Photo: Archive)
The autonomous Kurdistan Region’s Council of Ministers building. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Wednesday refuted recent statements made by a controversial politician in the party of influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, claiming the existence of a "terrorist line" that extends from Turkey to its southern neighbor of Iraq.

"The former deputy in the Iraqi parliament, Hakim al-Zamili, made a statement in the media, during which he threw arbitrary accusations against the (Kurdistan) Region, claiming that a terrorist line extends from Turkey through Erbil and then to Kirkuk towards Diyala," read a statement released by the KRG’s Department of Media and Information. 

The KRG, it continued, "expresses its concern about such statements, which are not only unbeneficial but are also a reason for undermining confidence between the Iraqi parties."

"We remind all parties that the Kurdistan Region has always been on the first front line in confronting terrorism since 2014, and continues to do so," adding, "Kurdistan Peshmerga forces are still defending the homeland and confronting terrorists, and have sacrificed in order to protect the security and stability of Kurdistan and Iraq with thousands of martyrs and wounded heroes."

A former multi-term Iraqi lawmaker, Zamili served as Iraq's Deputy Health Minister from 2006 until 2007 when he was arrested by US and Iraqi forces for using his position to funnel money to Sadr's militia. Zamili was also accused of involvement in the kidnapping of a politician from another party who held the deputy minister position before him. He later chaired parliament's Security and Defense Committee.

The KRG statement argued that "such statements are merely an evasion of responsibility in front of the security failure in other parts of Iraq."

"It is better and for all parties, instead of exchanging accusations, to unite their efforts in the framework of ensuring security and stability and providing a decent life for citizens."

Regarding terrorist threats operating from areas spanning Turkey's border to Iraq's central provinces, Kurdistan Region officials have repeatedly warned that the threat of ISIS continues in territories disputed by Baghdad and Erbil, with the extremist group continuing to carry out attacks in the provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk, Salahuddin, and Nineveh, among others.

Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga have recently formed a number of joint cooperation centers to try to bring stability to such areas and say they plan to form additional joint brigades in the near future.

Read More: Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga to form joint brigades in disputed territories: Official

In retaliation for the Kurdistan Region's 2017 independence referendum, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), of which Sadr's militia is a part, pushed the Peshmerga out of Iraq's disputed territories. Since then, the areas have suffered from a lack of unified military strategy across large tracts of land ranging from Khanaqin in central Diyala province to Kirkuk and northward to multiple areas surrounding Mosul. 

Editing by John J. Catherine