Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Monday told reporters Kurdish officials are ready for dialogue with Iraq as soon as the central government’s military operation is over.
Iraqi forces and Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi’s ongoing attack on parts of the Kurdistan Region “has destabilized the areas and hindered dialogue,” PM Barzani said during a press conference.
“We welcome calls for a peaceful resolution to the crisis that has come from the international community, [influential Iranian Shia cleric] Ayatollah Sistani, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi,” he said, clarifying that a delegation would visit Baghdad after the military offensive stopped.
He added the delegation would visit Baghdad “to open a new page, to have serious meetings, and to resolve all the problems in the framework of the Iraqi Constitution in a peaceful way.”
His remarks came after chairing a government meeting to discuss the displacement of some 170,000 civilians after the offensive on Kirkuk and other disputed areas.
Earlier today, the Kurdistan Region’s Security Council (KRSC) expressed concern regarding the continued military build-up of Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi troops in disputed territories.
“Iraq has shown zero signs of de-escalating their military aggression against the people of the Kurdistan Region,” read a statement released by the office of KRSC Chancellor Masrour Barzani.
The crisis following a military attack in the aftermath of a democratic referendum has convinced Gorran, the second largest political party in Kurdistan, to ask for the dismantling of the regional government and the resignation of the President and Vice President.
However, PM Barzani encouraged patience and solidarity, adding the time to hold parties and individuals accountable will come in the near future, “but as the Region is dealing with a crisis, we need unity and respect.”
He reminded his audience that Kurds have been through more difficult times.
PM Barzani concluded his remarks by stating the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is open to dialogue with all Kurdish parties and is an inclusive government.
He said President Barzani never denied his term expired in 2013, but the main reason for him staying in office was to defeat the Islamic State (IS)—a battle nearing its end.
Iraqi PM Abadi, who recently visited Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, and is expected to travel to Turkey this week, said the “Kurdish referendum is dead.”
Emboldened by regional support, he slammed the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks on Sunday regarding Iranian militias in Iraq, hinting that Baghdad’s aggression toward the Kurds was unlikely to end.
“No one has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters,” Abadi’s office fired back to Tillerson.
The remarks came a day after the top American diplomat demanded Iranian militias “leave Iraq” during a trilateral meeting with the Iraqi PM and Saudi King Salman in Riyadh.
While the US has repeatedly expressed concerns Iran would take advantage of gains made against IS to expand its authority in the region, Erbil’s unease at US weapons and military equipment being used by Shia militias has not diminished.