Tensions Increase Between Baghdad and Kurdistan Region

As Iraqi leaders met to avert a worsening crisis, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki banned Kurdistan Region officials from traveling abroad without permission, while government troops and Kurdish Peshmerga forces continued to deploy in disputed areas, Zaydan al-Rabii reports.

al-monitor Kurdish Peshmerga troops gather on the outskirts of Kirkuk, some 250km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, Nov. 24, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Azad Lashkari.

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security, peshmerga, massoud barzani, kurdistan, kirkuk, krg, iraqi central government, iraq

Nov 26, 2012

Although a Kurdish military delegation is arriving in Baghdad on Monday [Nov. 26] to meet officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, news indicates that additional Kurdish soldiers and armored vehicles are moving towards disputed areas.

In a move that reflects the deterioration in relations between the two parties, Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani insisted on his demands to cancel the Tigris operations and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a decision banning him from leaving Iraq without permission.

In Erbil yesterday [Nov. 25], Secretary General of the Iraqi Islamic Party Ayad Al- Samarrai met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who called for quick action to ease the situation so that a solution for the current crisis could be found. For his part, Samarrai described the situation in Iraq as critical and delicate.

On the other hand, Maliki issued a decision banning Kurdish officials, including Barzani, from international travel without consent from the government.

At the security level in the disputed areas, Maliki confirmed that the government "suggested reverting to the 2009 agreement to manage security issues in mixed areas by establishing joint checkpoints between the army and Peshmerga forces under the supervision of the central government.”

Barzani agreed to return to the 2009 agreement. However, Kurdish sources confirmed that Barzani is discussing the possibility of withdrawing confidence from Maliki with Talabani.

Barzani told reporters yesterday [Nov. 25] that he refuses to consider the current crisis as a personal dispute between him and Maliki and explained that the dispute is linked to the manner of governing and non-compliance with the constitution and conventions. He also reiterated his refusal to form the Tigris operations command, which he described as unconstitutional, and added that there is no compromise over this position and that the Kurds are not against arming the Iraqi army.

For its part, the Ministry of Peshmerga demanded that the Iraqi army withdraw from the cities and leave security issues to the police, stressing that the protection of cities should be entrusted to the ministry of the interior, as per the constitution.

Moreover, Kurdish forces also mobilized additional soldiers and heavy weapons towards the disputed areas. Deputy Minister for Kurdish Military Affairs Anwar Haji Othman said that these forces will hold on to their positions, unless the Iraqi forces make a move, adding, “If the Iraqi forces cross the line, they will be attacked.”

These developments come at a time when Kurdish military delegation are preparing to hold talks with officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in Baghdad today [Nov. 26], as a part of mediation led by parliament speaker Osama Najafi.

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