Iraq: Dialogue Between Baghdad, Kurds in Question

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi. On Thursday, he rejected an offer by regional officials to freeze the results of the Kurdistan referendum.
Haider Al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq speaking to the media following the Counter-ISIL Coalition Small Group Meeting in London, 22 January 2015. Photo: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The Iraqi government stated on Wednesday that the dialogue between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities on the deployment of federal forces along Iraqi Kurdistan’s borders has failed.

The federal Iraqi Joint Operations Command accused Erbil of delaying talks to strengthen their defenses “to impede the deployment of the federal forces.”

“The Prime Minister [Haider al-Abadi] gave them [Erbil] a couple of days in order to avoid bloodshed and to protect citizens, but the region’s leadership and their negotiating delegation devolved completely on the evening of Tuesday 10/31/2017 on the draft agreement that the federal team had been negotiating over; this has been an apparent ploy to waste time,” the Command stated.

“The federal government has orders to secure the region and its borders, to protect civilians, and to have strict instructions not to get engaged in fights,” it added.

The Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States issued a statement responding to the accusations. KRG authorities said the dialogue to determine the short-term plan for security in the disputed territories has been ongoing since October 27.

“The federal Iraqi delegation created the first draft of the agreement, which was sent to the KRG for review. With input from the KRG Prime Minister and Kurdistan Region Security Council, the draft was sent back with some amendments on October 31. It was understood that the original draft was intended to be a starting point for negotiations, and the KRG believed that its amendments were entirely reasonable and were to be negotiated with the Iraqi federal delegation,” the representation said.

Kurdish officials noted that the dialogue with Baghdad has seemingly collapsed.

“The KRG remains prepared to negotiate in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution. We call on the international community to bring the federal government back to negotiations and prevent an immediate and catastrophic escalation of violence,” the representation said.

Tensions between Baghdad and Erbil escalated after the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25.

In the aftermath of the vote, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered operations to retake territory that was under the Kurdish control. On October 24, the advances were temporary suspended.