Barzani Urges Anti-Baghdad Rallies amid Calls for Peaceful Resolution of Tensions
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – President of Iraqi Kurdistan Region urged the Kurdish diaspora to protests against the Iraqi central government despite the religious leaders’ call for peaceful resolution of dispute between the two sides.
In reaction to Iraqi federal government efforts to reassert authority in areas that have been disputed between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region north of the country, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani encouraged all Kurds across the globe to hold protest rallies.
He called the Iraqi central government's measures against Erbil after the region’s illegal referendum on September 25, a “collective punishment”.
Kurdistan has “committed no crime,” Barzani said in a published statement despite the fact that Baghdad has declared the referendum against Iraq’s constitution.
“Governments have, due to their interests, forgotten about the sacrifices made by the people of Kurdistan and the Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorists,” he stated.
He also addressed Kurds in the diaspora in Europe and the United States to “stage protests and engage in civil activities in a legal and peaceful manner to garner support for our nation.”
This week, Iraqi forces have taken control of the majority of territory in the disputed areas that had been under Peshmerga control. Iraqi forces on Friday took control of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, which was still in the hands of Kurds.
Meanwhile, many Iraqi politicians and religious leaders have called for peaceful resolution of dispute between Erbil and Baghdad.
Iraq’s Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Friday urged Kurdish leaders to preserve their unity and try to bypass the crisis in cooperation with the Iraqi central government.
The cleric voiced hope that the dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad lead to a fair solutions that satisfies all sides.
Sistani’s call was issued at the Friday prayer in the holy city of Karbala by one of his representatives.
Sistani called the presence of the Iraqi forces in Kirkuk a victory for all Iraqis.
He also warned against any retaliatory moves, and urged Kurdish leaders to cooperate with the federal government on the basis of Iraqi law.
The cleric stated that the country’s Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens had to move shoulder to shoulder towards resolving existing problems.