Kur­dish move in dis­puted Kirkuk province ‘dan­ger­ous’

New deploy­ments of Kur­dish forces in the dis­puted Kirkuk province in north Iraq are a “dan­ger­ous devel­op­ment” and an attempt to reach its oil fields, a top Iraqi gen­eral said on Saturday.

“They want to reach (Kirkuk’s) oil wells and fields,” Staff Gen­eral Ali Ghaidan Majeed, the com­man­der of Iraqi ground forces, told AFP, adding that the move breached an agree­ment whereby Kur­dish pesh­merga forces and Iraqi sol­diers would main­tain joint checkpoints.

 

Kur­dish secu­rity forces were deployed near the dis­puted north­ern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a Kur­dish offi­cial said on Sat­ur­day, a move allegedly aimed at com­bat­ing mil­i­tants in the area.

In the past week, a wave of vio­lence has killed more than 200 peo­ple country-​wide, includ­ing dozens in Kirkuk province.

“After con­sul­ta­tions with the gov­er­nor of Kirkuk, there has been a deci­sion for pesh­merga (secu­rity) forces to fill the vac­u­ums in gen­eral, and espe­cially around the city of Kirkuk,” Jab­bar Yawar, sec­re­tary gen­eral of Iraqi Kurdistan’s pesh­merga min­istry, said in a statement.

“The intel­li­gence ser­vice of the pesh­merga has infor­ma­tion that ter­ror­ist groups have plans to launch ter­ror­ist attacks in these regions,” Yawar said. “Our only goal is to pre­serve the life of citizens.”

But the Iraqi army ascribed dif­fer­ent motives to the deployment.

“After the lat­est move­ments of the pesh­merga forces, the army is on alert,” a high-​ranking army offi­cer told AFP. “The army sees the move of the pesh­merga as a (polit­i­cal) maneu­ver and not to fill any vacuum.”

Kirkuk province and its epony­mous cap­i­tal, home to Kurds, Arabs and Turk­men, fall within the ter­ri­tory the autonomous Kur­dis­tan region wants to incor­po­rate over strong objec­tions from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in Baghdad.

Diplo­mats and offi­cials say the ter­ri­to­r­ial dis­pute between Bagh­dad and Kur­dis­tan — a three-​province region with its own gov­ern­ment, secu­rity forces, bor­ders and flag but which still receives a por­tion of the fed­eral bud­get — is a major threat to Iraq’s long-​term stability.

In addi­tion to ter­ri­tory, the two sides are at odds over other issues includ­ing oil deals Kur­dis­tan has made with­out Baghdad’s approval, and power-​sharing.

Source: AFP

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