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Iraqi Kurdish leader to devolve powers after thorny vote

30 October, 2017, 01:58 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • A protester beats on a gate at the US Consulate in Erbil as Kurds felt let down by the United States

"I am the same Masoud Barzani, I am a Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) and will continue to help my people in their struggle for independence", said Barzani, who has campaigned for Kurdish self-determination for almost four decades.

He was elected president by the Kurdish parliament in 2005, and won almost 70 per cent of the vote in Kurdistan's first direct presidential election in 2009.

Barzani's step came after the military and political defeat that touched the Region following the September 25 referendum on independence, opposed by Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran, in addition to the worldwide community.

The central government retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds had held since 2014 and regard as both their spiritual homeland and a key source of revenue for their would-be independent state, in a military offensive on October 16.

Speaking at a closed parliamentary session on Sunday, Barzani read a letter saying he will not seek to extend his term as president when after 1 November, effectively resigning from government. Iraqi government launched an offensive which led to Kurds losing to Baghdad large swathes of oilfields in the disputed province of Kirkuk.

The region lost almost half of the territory that had been comfortably under Kurdish control for years, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.




His resignation could help facilitate a reconciliation between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq's central government, whose retaliatory measures since the referendum have transformed the balance of power in the north.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday ordered a 24-hour suspension of military operations against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. His term of office was to expire in 2013 but was extended by parliament.

Hayman Hurami, the political adviser at the office of the Kurdish Region's President said that Barzani will remain a high reference in the Kurdistan Region.

Abadi also wants to take control of the border crossings between the Kurdish region and Turkey, Iran and Syria, including one through which an oil export pipeline crosses into Turkey, carrying Iraqi and Kurdish crude oil.

A coalition of United States (US)-led military forces said a ceasefire has been reached between the government in Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish minority after clashes emerged due to controversial vote on Kurdish independence last month.

Kurdish officials offered this week to "freeze" the results of the vote, but Mr al-Abadi rejected the offer on Thursday.

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