Baghdad-Kurdistan talks stall over military command

Updated 30 November 2012
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Baghdad-Kurdistan talks stall over military command

ARBIL, Iraq: Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region said yesterday that talks on reducing tensions with the federal government have stalled over the contentious issue of a newly-established northern military command.
Talks between federal and Kurdish security officials reached an impasse over Baghdad’s refusal to scrap the Tigris Operations Command, which was “the basic requirement emphasized by the leadership of Kurdistan for normalizing the situation,” a statement on the Kurdistan government’s website said.
The establishment of the federal Tigris Operations Command, which covers disputed territory in north Iraq, has drawn an angry response from Kurdish leaders who want to incorporate much of the area into their region.
Federal and Kurdish security officials held talks this week on reducing high tensions between the two sides in the country’s north, which has seen military reinforcements sent to disputed areas.
An Iraqi military spokesman said in a statement on Monday that the two sides agreed to continue with talks and on activating coordinating committees between their forces, and to work to calm the situation and look for mechanisms to withdraw military units mobilized during the increased tensions.
The spokesman, Col. Dhia Al-Wakil, then said on Tuesday that a draft accord was to be finalized on Wednesday and presented to a committee for approval.
But the two sides ultimately disagreed on the details, according to top Kurdish security official Jabbar Yawar, who said the federal government originally approved 12 out of 14 of Kurdistan’s demands, but later only agreed to three.
Fuad Hussein, Kurdistan president Massud Barzani’s chief of staff, said in the statement on Friday that the best option for the region is now intensifying contacts on the crisis with the National Alliance, a grouping of mainly-Shiite Iraqi parties.
The dispute over territory in north Iraq is the biggest threat to the country’s long-term stability, diplomats and officials say. Ties between the two sides are also marred by disputes over oil and power-sharing.


Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

Updated 24 April 2018
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Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

BAGHDAD: Daesh has threatened to attack Iraqi polling stations and voters during parliamentary elections next month.

In a message posted to the Telegram messaging app on Sunday, Daesh spokesman Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir called on Sunni Iraqis to boycott the May 12 polls, the first since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory over Daesh in December.

Extremist groups in Iraq have targeted every election since the 2003 US-led invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein and paved the way for Shiites to dominate every government since.

Under a system of checks and balances designed to avoid a return to dictatorship, the winner of the May 12 elections will have to form alliances with other Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lists to secure a majority.

An incumbent prime minister, his ousted predecessor and a paramilitary chief instrumental in defeating Daesh are the three favorites vying for Iraq’s premiership.

Two of the favorites topping the lists were among the architects of victory against Daesh, which in 2014 seized a third of Iraq’s territory in a lightning offensive.

The incumbent prime minister, 66 year-old Abadi, took over the reins from Nuri Al-Maliki in September 2014 at the high watermark of the security crisis.

The fightback which allowed Abadi to declare Iraq’s victory over Daesh in December, has silenced critics of his lack of military experience.

An engineering graduate and holder of a doctorate from the University of Manchester in Britain, Abadi is from the same Dawa party as his predecessor Maliki.

As the official head of Iraq’s military, Abadi has bolstered morale by drafting in foreign trainers, who have helped professionalize tens of thousands of soldiers.

Under his watch and backed by a US-led international coalition, the army has banished Daesh from all its urban strongholds in Iraq. 

The Iraqi military has also pushed back the Kurds in the north’s oil-rich Kirkuk province, bolstering Abadi’s status as frontrunner going into the election.

“He has a popular base which transcends confessional and ethnic lines. He offers a narrative as a statesman and he is not tarnished by corruption,” said Iraqi political scientist Essam Al-Fili.

Haddad said: “Abadi remains the single strongest contender but not strong enough to win anything close to a majority.”

His main contender is Hadi Al-Ameri — a leader of Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating Daesh.

During Maliki’s 2010-2014 term as premier, Ameri was a lawmaker and then transport minister, but he was blocked in a bid to head the Interior Ministry by an American veto.