Deploy troops to Kirkuk's oilfields, Iraqi parliament tells Abadi after Kurdish referendum

Deploy troops to Kirkuk's oilfields, Iraqi parliament tells Abadi after Kurdish referendum
3 min read
27 September, 2017
Iraq requested troops be sent to Kirkuk to take control of its oilfields on Wednesday, as a military delegation from Iraq's armed forces headed to Iran amid rising tensions.
The parliament requested troops be sent to control Kirkuk's oilfields [File Photo: Getty]
Iraq's parliament asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send troops to the Kurdish-held region of Kirkuk and take control of its oilfields on Wednesday, as reports confirmed a top-ranking military delegation from the country travelled to neighbouring Iran to coordinate military efforts.

"The government has to bring back the oilfields of Kirkuk under the control of the oil ministry," said the resolution voted by parliament in Baghdad.

It called on Abadi to "issue orders for the security forces to deploy in the disputed areas, including Kirkuk" where the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have maintained control since 2014.

Twelve other points were highlighted in the resolution, including legal action against "all officials responsible for the unilateral referendum, including Masoud Barzani, whoe legal term ended over two years ago," the statement said.

"All oilfields not under federal control will no longer be eligible for export with the aid of neighbouring countries.

"All consulates in the Kurdish region of Iraq will be asked to close their missions within the region," it adds.

The requests follows an Iraqi military statement announcing a senior ranking delegation from Iraq's armed forces headed to neighbouring Iran "to coordinate military efforts".

No further details about the aim of the visit were provided, however it is believed to be part of retaliatory measures taken by the government in Baghdad following the independence referendum held in Iraq's northern Kurdish region on Monday.

It comes after Iran vowed to stand with Iraq and Turkey against calls for Kurdish independence.

All three countries have significant Kurdish minorities, causing huge concern among the governments in Tehran, Ankara and Baghdad since the referendum was held.

"The Iraqi people won't stand silent. Iran and Turkey and other regional countries won't stand silent and will stand against this abhorrent deviation," Ali Akbar Velayati, top advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency as saying. 

"The Muslim nations will not allow the creation of a second Israel," he added, comparing a potential independent Kurdish state to Israel, created in 1948.

On Tuesday, state media also reported that an Iranian army commander confirmed that new missile systems had been installed along the Iran-Iraq border to "firmly respond to any invasion".

This latest action follows Tehran's cancelling of all flights between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran on Sunday.

Baghdad has also taken action following the election, with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi demanding that Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region surrender control of its airport by Friday.

Turkey, meanwhile, has threatened to sever the pipeline that exports oil out of the resource-rich Kurdish region of Iraq.

Claims of victory

In a televised address on Tuesday, Iraqi-Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani called on Iraq's federal government to engage in "serious dialogue ... instead of threatening" Iraqi-Kurdistan's government with sanctions

"We may face hardship but we will overcome," Barzani added, urging world powers  "to respect the will of millions of people" who partook in the referendum.

Early poll results indicate an overwhelming 'yes' victory of over 90 percent, according to Kurdish boradcaster Rudaw.

The final result is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

While the outcome of the referendum is non-binding, it is expected that Barxani will atemot to use a possible 'yes' victory to bolster his mandate to negotiate the future of Iraqi-Kurdistanwith Baghdad.

For now, however, Baghdad has ruled out talks on the matter.

Iran and Turkey oppose any move towards Kurdish secession and their armies have started joint drills near their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan in recent days. Iraq and Turkey have also held joint military drills.