nsucurrent.com February 20, 2018

Abadi Calls for Calm in Kurdistan as Chaos Follows Barzani Speech

31 October 2017, 12:40 | Colleen Roy

Dust storm hits the capital of the Kurdistan Region Erbil

S Warnings issued as dust storm hits Kurdistan and Iraq

In his first public appearance since September's referendum, Barzani addressed the region's parliament, saying he "refuse [d] to continue" in his post as president after his term expires on November 1, the date also set for the now-postponed presidential and legislative elections in the region.

The incident came shortly after the assembly voted to transfer presidential authority from KRG President Masoud Barzani to the Kurdish parliament and the KRG's Council of Justice.

We welcome the recent decision from Prime Minister Abadi to begin a new dialogue with the KRG, under the Iraqi constitution, and avoid further confrontations.

As MPs discussed the request for his powers to be dissolved dozens of his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) supporters stormed the building, attacking politicians from opposition parties and journalists until police arrived at the scene.

During his speech, Barzani said the Iraqi central government has used the Kurdish vote in September as "an excuse" to retake territory.

And the suspension of the presidency, said Zaid Ali, author of "The Struggle for Iraq's Future", has created an impossible task for Kurdish lawmakers. In a statement on Monday, the State Department praised Barzani as "a historic figure and courageous leader of his people, most recently in our common fight to destroy ISIS". This decision represents an act of statesmanship during a hard period.

The referendum, which garnered a 92.7% vote in favor of separation, was meant to advance the prospects of Kurdistan, the long-held dream of an independent Kurdish state on territories covering segments of northern Iraq.

James Jeffery is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former diplomat.

A Kurdish official on the Syrian side of the border said access for aid workers and journalists has not been affected.

Iran has its own sizable Kurdish minority and has opposed independence for Iraqi Kurds.

Tensions have been running high between Baghdad and the region of Kurdistan after the Kurds held a controversial referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas.

Kurdish leaders offered to freeze the referendum results and start dialogue with the central government in Baghdad, but Abadi rejected that offer.

Masoud Barzani has been president of the Kurdish Regional Government since 2005.

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