Iraqi Kurdistan parliament chief calls on Barzani to resign after lightning Kirkuk takeover
The head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament has called on the Kurdish president to step down, as government forces took full control of oil fields in the disputed northern province of Kirkuk.
Yousif Mohamed made the remarks on Tuesday, demanding that Massud Barzani resign from his position as the head of the regional government, according to local media.
"You must admit that you have failed and leave our people to decide our own fate, which is not for you to determine, according to your wishes," Mohamed told Barzani.
"We are all prisoners to a political elite that is trying take control of the nation's wealth in order to expand its power," he added, accusing Barzani of "illegally" ruling the autonomous region for 12 years.
Iraqi forces said on Wednesday they had achieved their objectives in a lightning operation that saw them sweep through disputed Kurdish-held territory in a punishing riposte to an independence vote last month.
On Monday and Tuesday, federal troops and allied militia retook the northern province of Kirkuk and its lucrative oil fields, as well as formerly Kurdish-held areas of Nineveh and Diyala provinces - all outside the autonomous Kurdistan region.
The 48-hour operation saw Kurdish forces almost entirely confined to their longstanding three-province autonomous region in the north.
Barzani has said the evacuation of Kirkuk was forced by "certain people in a certain party," a swipe at his political opponents in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, known as the PUK. Barzani heads the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP.
The General Command of the peshmerga, nominally in Barzani's hands, went even further, accusing PUK officials of "a great and historic treason against Kurdistan."
Their accusations were grounded in reports that peshmerga divisions loyal to the PUK had abandoned their positions as the Iraqi government forces advanced, though the KDP-aligned divisions also withdrew, in Kirkuk and in other parts of the country.