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We don’t want armed conflict with Kurds—Al Abadi

Macron offers to mediate between Baghdad and Kurds seeking independence after controversial referendum

Image Credit: AP
Emmanuel Macron (left) welcomes Haider Al Abadi at the Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday for talks on the international fight against Daesh and rebuilding Iraq’s economy.
Gulf News

Paris: Iraq’s prime minister said on Thursday he did not want an armed clash with Kurdish Iraqi authorities and urged Peshmerga forces in disputed areas to work with Iraqi security forces under the control of the central government.

“We do not want an armed confrontation, we don’t want clashes, but the federal authority must prevail and nobody can infringe on the federal authority,” Haider Al Abadi said in a statement alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I call on the Peshmerga to remain an integral part of the Iraqi forces under the authority of the federal authorities, to guarantee the security of citizens so that we can rebuild these zones,” he said, referring areas taken back from Islamic State militants.

Meanwhile, Macron offered Thursday for France to mediate between the Iraqi government and Kurds seeking independence after a controversial referendum.

Macron made the offer after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi in Paris in wide-ranging talks about French support for the fight against Daesh and rebuilding Iraqi’s economy.

Macron said France and others are worried about the situation of the Kurds after last month’s referendum, and said France supports the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq. He insisted on the importance of “national reconciliation and inclusive governance” that includes Kurds, “with whom France maintains close ties.”

Macron said dialogue “is the only path” and “France is ready . to contribute actively to mediation.”

Tensions have escalated between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish region.

The Shiite-dominated legislature rejected the Sept. 25 referendum in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and areas the Kurds captured battling Daesh since 2014. The Kurds voted by more than 90 per cent in support of independence.

Parliament has asked for harsh measures in response to the vote, including sending federal troops to retake the contested oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is held by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad. Lawmakers also dismissed the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province’s Kurdish governor who supported the referendum.