KRG offers talks with Baghdad over airports, borders, banks
ISOLATED after holding an independence referendum, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is now seeking to hold talks with the Iraqi government in Baghdad concerning restrictions on airports, border posts and banks.
THE KURDISTAN Regional Government (KRG) offered to hold talks with Iraqi authorities on the status of airports, border posts and banks after restrictions were placed on them following an independence referendum.
The government in Baghdad, which declared the vote illegal, imposed a ban on direct international flights to Iraqi Kurdistan after last month's referendum. It also demanded that the KRG hand over control of its border posts and stopped selling dollars to four KRG-owned banks.
"To avoid this collective punishment, we invite [Iraqi Prime Minister] Haider alAbadi again, and we are ready for any form of dialogue and negotiations in conformity with the Iraqi constitution," the KRG said in a statement published overnight.
The KRG offered discussions "regarding the crossings, internal trade, providing services to the citizens, the banks and the airports."
The statement marked a change of tack from Iraqi Kurdish authorities, which on Wednesday accused Iraqi forces and Iranian-trained Iraqi paramilitaries of "preparing a major attack" on the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and near Mosul in northern Iraq.
As a measure against a possible operation of Iraqi military, KRG peshmerga forces yesterday blocked roads to the country's second-largest city Mosul in response to Iraqi troop movements, a senior Iraqi Kurdish military official told reporters.
"The two main roads connecting Irbil and Dohuk to Mosul were cut off on Thursday with sand embankments as a precautionary measure after we detected an increase in deployments and movements of Iraqi forces near the front line with the peshmerga," he said.
An Iraqi military spokesman denied any attack on Iraqi Kurdish forces was planned, saying government troops were preparing to oust Daesh terrorists from an area near the Syrian border.
However, the Iraqi military downed a drone belonging to KRG peshmerga forces in Nineveh province, an officer said yesterday.
"Military forces downed the drone near the village of al-Salamiyah in the Nimrud district southeast of Mosul," Army Captain Bassam Saad told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council issued arrest warrants on Wednesday for the chairman of the KRG referendum commission and two aides for "violating a valid [Iraqi] court ruling" banning the independence vote for being against the constitution.
Neighboring Iran and Turkey back Iraq's uncompromising stance and repeatedly expressed commitment to Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Kirkuk, a KRG-controlled multi-ethnic region, has emerged as a flashpoint in the crisis between Baghdad and Irbil, as it is claimed by both sides.
Iraqi forces and Shiite paramilitaries, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, are deployed south and west of Kirkuk, in areas previously under Daesh control.
The area around the border post of alQaim, in western Iraq, is the last Iraqi region still under the control of the terrorists who overran a third of the country in 2014.
The KRG, led by President Masoud Barzani, held a controversial independence referendum on Sept. 25, despite widespread criticism from regional powers, the Iraqi central government, the U.S., the U.K. and the EU. It passed with over 90 percent of the vote.
Leaders who opposed the KRG referendum claim that Iraq's territorial integrity must be protected and that focus should be honed on the fight against Daesh, arguing that an Iraqi Kurdistan would compromise the stability of a unified Iraq and bring further chaos and conflict to a region already reeling from instability, civil war and political turmoil. The only country to support the KRG vote has been Israel.