Iraqi Prime Minister Takes Election Campaign to Kurdish Capital

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

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday took his campaign for May 12 elections to the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region, seven months after its ill-fated independence referendum.

“Today we are all under the tent of Iraq, and whoever wants separation will be torn apart by hyenas,” he said on arrival at the airport in Arbil where he was greeted by his Iraqi Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani.

“Kurdish-Arab brotherhood is permanent and will persist. The heroes of the peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) and the Iraqi army confronted Daesh together and shared the suffering to achieve victory,” Abadi said, referring to their joint defeat last year of the Islamic State group.

“Today we absolutely need this unity,” said Abadi who has this week been touring northern and western Iraq.

The federal government imposed a battery of sanctions on Iraqi Kurdistan after the northern region voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 25 non-binding referendum that Baghdad rejected as illegal.