Rudaw

Disputed territory agreement reached between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces: PM

Iraq’s Minister of Defense has reached an agreement with Erbil’s Ministry of Peshmerga regarding the security of the disputed areas, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told Rudaw during his weekly press conference on Tuesday evening.

“The Iraqi Government and the Ministry of Peshmerga have reached an agreement regarding the security of the disputed areas. They have decided to protect the Iraq-Syria border and the Iraq-Iran border covering a total of 500 kilometers,” Abdul-Mahdi announced.

“The agreement between the Iraqi government and the Ministry of Peshmerga is to provide security and bring stability back to the areas that are witnessing a security gap in the disputed areas,” he added.

The agreement focuses exclusively on matters of security and will not extend to the dilemma of output from Kirkuk’s oilfields, situated on disputed territory.

“The issues between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad regarding the disputed areas are very complicated and are not easily resolvable, since the issues have been around for decades – especially oil and Kirkuk.”

However, we are in close contact with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials in order to reach a suitable solution,” he added.

In the aftermath of the Kurdish independence referendum of September 2017, the Iraqi Army and Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, otherwise known as Hashd al-Shaabi) launched an offensive against Peshmerga forces in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other areas considered disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

The disputed areas, suffering from a resulting security vacuum that has allowed ISIS to thrive, have borne witness to multiple car bombs and the torching of thousands of dunams of land in Nineveh, Saladin and Kirkuk provinces. ISIS has claimed responsibility for much of the arson through its own press outlets.  Ambushes, kidnapping, extortion, and arson have also taken place in these areas.

”There is a gap of 40 kilometers in the disputed areas that ISIS remnants have been taking advantage of, issuing threats to the civilians of the areas,” Chief of Staff for the Ministry of Peshmerga Jabar Yawar told Rudaw English.

Yawar added that the federal police will be in charge of security within cities and towns; as such, the agreement between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga will only take effect outside of urban areas.

“Since February 4, 2019 the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Peshmerga have been in meetings regarding a deal that can bring security back to all the disputed areas including Kirkuk, Diyala, Makhmour and Tuz Khurmatu,” he added. Source