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Erbil Sends Forces to Outskirts Of Kirkuk, Enraging Baghdad

Baghdad considers the Iraqi Kurdistan Region's deployment of peshmerga to the outskirts of Kirkuk to be escalatory and provocative, writes Abdel Hamid Zebari.
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier sits atop an armored vehicle during a deployment of Kurdish Peshmerga troops on the outskirts of Kirkuk, some 250km (155 miles) north of Baghdad December 3, 2012. Iraq's Kurdish region has sent reinforcements to a disputed area where its troops are involved in a standoff with the Iraqi army, a senior Kurdish military official said, despite calls on both sides for dialogue to calm the situation. Picture taken December 3, 2012. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CI
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Kurdish peshmerga forces were deployed to the outskirts of Kirkuk to fill the security vacuum there and to thwart a sectarian war, which some believe to be just around the corner. According to the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, the move was coordinated with the governor of Kirkuk. Iraqi military forces, however, believe that the oil wells located in the area are the reason behind this move and consider it a breach of security agreements between Erbil and Baghdad.

In that regard, the Ministry of Peshmerga in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that it was merely filling the gap left by the Iraqi army in the disputed area out of fear that armed groups might infiltrate the region. The ministry reiterated that its aim was to protect all citizens and groups, regardless of political or religious affiliation.

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