Iraqi central government in Baghdad has set a deadline for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to leave and hand over the areas which had been under the control of the army before the ISIS attack.
Iraqi President Fuad Masum had called on the government on Thursday to set a new deadline to resolve the conflicts with Kurdish officials.
“According to the new 48-hour deadline which comes to an end on Saturday night, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces are required to hand over the areas which used to be under the control of the central government before the ISIS attack in 2014,” an informed source told the Tasnim News Agency.
“The central government of Baghdad has called on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s President, Masoud Barzani, to remove the Kurdish forces from the areas which used to be under the control of Iraqi army before ISIS attacks. The areas came under the control of Peshmerga forces under an agreement with the central government,” he said.
The source went on saying two days ago that Masum held talks with Barzani and conveyed the message of the central government. “He asked Barzani to remove the Peshmerga forces from the areas to prevent from any possible war.”
The areas include Kirkuk airport, K1 military base as well as oil wells in Kirkuk city.
According to the source, removal of Najmeddin Karim, the Kirkuk governor, from his post and handing over of about 5,000 ISIS members are among other demands of the central Baghdad government.
“As things stand, the mission of Masum has ended up in failure because during the talks Kurdistan Regional Government has raised its own demands without giving a direct response to the central government’s demands,” he noted.
KRG’s intentional delay in meeting the demands of Baghdad comes as Iraqi government forces stand on high alert in some areas in Kirkuk. “It seems the end of the deadline can pave the way for a war but as experience shows KRG forces will lose the battle,” the source concluded.
This comes as KRG Prime Minister, Nechriwan Barzani, has issued a statement calling on the international community to step in and prevent a possible war from happening in the region.
The statement issued on Friday called on the top Shiite Cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and all political sides in Iraq as well as international peace organizations, the UN and member states of the US-led coalition in Iraq to step into the fray and protect the region from the dangers of a war through appropriate measures.
The KRG prime minister also urged the Iraqi as well as foreign forces to avoid any move endangering the country, saying any war in Iraq will have dire consequences for the country and the whole region.
It is noteworthy that the opponents of the Kurds’ secession vote had earlier warned against a civil war in Iraq saying the independence will strengthen ISIS and pave the way for the division of Iraq.
In the latest development, the top commander of Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, Vesta Rasoul, has warned that his forces are completely ready to retaliate any attack by the Iraqi forces.