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Warrant issued for Kurdish VP

Kosrat Rasul Ali, vice president of Iraqi Kurdistan. (AFP file)
BAGHDAD: A Baghdad court issued an arrest warrant for the vice president of Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdish region on Thursday for saying that Iraqi forces had “occupied” the disputed province of Kirkuk this week.
However, the warrant against Kosrat Rasul is unlikely to be executed, as the central government in Baghdad has no enforceable authority in the Kurdish-administered north.
The court accused Rasul of “insulting” Iraq’s armed forces, which is forbidden by Iraqi law.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman for Iraq’s armed forces, said the military would redeploy to all areas it controlled before the rise of Daesh.
On Thursday, tensions ran high along the main road between the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, and Kirkuk. Kurdish forces on Wednesday took up positions about 5 km beyond their initial lines, regrouping to defend the town of Altun Kupri. Iraqi forces established their own positions about 1.6 km away.
Altun Kupri likes just outside the boundary of the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous zone. Kurdish forces moved into the town in 2014.
The pullout this week from the city of Kirkuk and other towns and villages they held is likely to deprive the Kurdish regional government of a substantial revenue stream.
The Kirkuk oil field surrounding the city was estimated in 2007 to hold almost 9 billion barrels of oil. Iraq’s Oil Ministry said it has asked British Petroleum to develop plans to expand production at the field “as quickly as possible.”
Rasool, the Iraqi military spokesman, said Thursday the military had no plans to capture the nearby Khurmala oilfield, which is located inside the Kurdish region. Its reserves are estimated at 2.8 billion barrels.

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