UN urges Iraqi Kurds to drop ref­er­en­dum

Iraqi forces cap­ture area on Syria bor­der from Daesh — mil­i­tary

Gulf News - - Middle East -

The United Na­tions has urged Iraqi Kur­dish leader Mas­sud Barzani to drop plans for an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum and en­ter talks with Bagh­dad aimed at reach­ing a deal within three years.

Jan Ku­bis, the top UN en­voy in Iraq, of­fered in­ter­na­tional back­ing for im­me­di­ate ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the coun­try’s fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the au­ton­o­mous Kur­dish re­gion.

In a doc­u­ment seen by AFP, he pro­posed “struc­tured, sus­tained, in­ten­sive and re­sult-ori­ented part­ner­ship ne­go­ti­a­tions on how to re­solve all the prob­lems and out­stand­ing is­sues” be­tween Bagh­dad and Ar­bil.

The Kur­dish Re­gional Gov­ern­ment is em­broiled in long­stand­ing dis­putes with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment over oil ex­ports, bud­get pay­ments and con­trol of eth­ni­cally di­vided ar­eas.

Iraqi Kur­dish law­mak­ers yes­ter­day ap­proved hold­ing the ref­er­en­dum in the face of fierce op­po­si­tion both from Bagh­dad and the Kurds’ in­ter­na­tional back­ers.

Ku­bis called for talks, over­seen by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, that would aim to reach a deal defin­ing “prin­ci­ples and ar­range­ments” for fu­ture re­la­tions be­tween Bagh­dad and the KRG.

In re­turn, Barzani’s ad­min­is­tra­tion would agree to post­pone the ref­er­en­dum at least un­til the end of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“Here is this of­fer, if they ac­cept this al­ter­na­tive, there will be ne­go­ti­a­tions,” Ku­bis told AFP.

He said he hoped to hear from Barzani “in the next two or three days”. “I hope they will con­sider the op­tions and I am wait­ing for their an­swer,” he said.

Mean­while, Iraqi armed forces yes­ter­day dis­lodged Daesh from a nat­u­ral gas-rich bor­der area with Syria, ac­cord­ing to the mil­i­tary.

Ira­nian-backed forces fight­ing with Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar Al As­sad’s army si­mul­ta­ne­ously an­nounced the start of an of­fen­sive to reach the same bor­der area from the op­po­site side.

An Iraqi mil­i­tary state­ment said Akashat, a desert re­gion lo­cated south of the Euphrates river, was cap­tured in an of­fen­sive which had been an­nounced ear­lier in the day.

The at­tack on Akashat is meant to pave the way for the re­cap­ture of ur­ban cen­tres in the Euphrates val­ley, in­clud­ing the bor­der post of Al Qaim, it said.

Ira­nian-backed Shi­ite para­mil­i­tary forces known as Popular Mo­bil­i­sa­tion and Sunni tribal fight­ers known as Tribal Mo­bil­i­sa­tion took part in the of­fen­sive, it added.

The Iraqi air force dropped thou­sands of leaflets overnight on Akashat as well as on Al Qaim and the towns of Ana and Rawa, along­side the Euphrates, telling the mil­i­tants to sur­ren­der or face death, the state­ment said.

AFP

Snipers be­long­ing to the Imam Ali Divi­sion, one of the groups fight­ing within the Hashed Al Shaabi (Popular Mo­bil­i­sa­tion) paramil­i­taries, dur­ing a mil­i­tary pa­rade in Na­jaf yes­ter­day.

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