The president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, says the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) supports a decision made by the central government in Baghdad concerning the withdrawal of US military forces from the country.
Speaking in a meeting with Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Erbil on Saturday, Barzani highlighted that the KRG throws its weight behind any decision taken by Baghdad, and that Kurdish officials back the resolution passed by Iraqi lawmakers that calls for the expulsion of foreign forces.
اقليم كردستان: أي قرار تتخذه الحكومة الاتحادية هو قرارناhttps://t.co/uA5yK4WJXo— AlsumariaTV-السومرية (@alsumariatv) January 11, 2020
The Iraqi MPs approved the resolution after the United States assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the second-in-command of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in an airstrike near Baghdad International Airport.
Abdul-Mahdi and Barzani also discussed the latest developments in Iraq, tensions between the United States and Iran, and the ongoing anti-government protests in the Arab country.
“Iraq should not be turned into a field for regional and international conflicts,” said a statement by the Kurdistan Region president’s office.
“The importance of the continuation of international aid and support for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in the fight against terrorism, threats of terror resurgence, and Daesh terrorist activities in Iraq, especially areas located between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces, were also discussed in the meeting,” the statement added.
Abdul-Mahdi said there is “a good opportunity” to resolve issues between the Baghdad government and the KRG with “determination and serious will.”
Late on Thursday, the Iraqi caretaker prime minister called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the withdrawal of US troops from the country.
According to a statement released by the Iraqi premier’s office, Abdul-Mahdi “requested that delegates be sent to Iraq to set the mechanisms to implement the parliament's decision for the secure withdrawal of (foreign) forces from Iraq” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The prime minister said Iraq rejects violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military's violation of Iraqi airspace in the airstrike that assassinated Soleimani last week.
Abdul-Mahdi asked Pompeo to “send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism to carry out the parliament’s resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq,” the statement said.
“The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements,” the statement added.
The US State Department bluntly rejected the request on Friday.
On January 5, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.
Later in the day, Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said the parliamentary resolution to end the presence of foreign troops in the country had not gone far enough, calling on local and foreign resistance groups to unite.
"I consider this a weak response, insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation," Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in parliament, was quoted by Reuters as saying in a letter to parliament.
The cleric said a security agreement with the United States should be canceled immediately, the US embassy should be closed down, US troops must be expelled in a humiliating manner, and communication with the US government should be criminalized.