In an unprecedented move, Iraqi resistance group Harakat Hezbollah Nujaba has threatened to target Israeli positions and US military bases in the country’s northern Kurdistan region.
In a statement on Monday, Akram al-Kaabi, the founder and secretary-general of the movement, said Israeli and American installations in an area controlled by Masoud Barzani-led Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) could be a target.
"By hosting the US military bases and the positions of the (Israeli) spy agency Mossad, leaders of the Iraqi Kurdistan region have not only compromised the security of the northern Iraqi people but have also turned the area, infested with spies and occupying forces, into a legitimate target for Iraqi resistance groups," the statement read.
Sabereen News, the media conglomerate affiliated with the resistance factions in Iraq, published the statement, reporting that Nujaba's foreign relations unit has threatened Barzani, the veteran Kurdish politician who has been at the helm of KDP since 1979.
A caricature accompanying the statement showed the smiling face of Barzani, with two crows marked as Israel and the US sitting on his head, while he invites other evil crows to his sphere of influence.
It also depicted the commander of the Nujaba resistance movement ordering his forces to smash the nests of crows perched atop the Kurdish leader’s head.
KDP has not yet reacted to the statement issued by Nujaba.
Last December, Iraqi lawmaker Ali al-Fatlawi said it would be legitimate for the country’s anti-terror resistance groups, which are part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, to force US-led military forces to withdraw from the Arab country.
He said the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq was non-negotiable, especially as former Iraqi premier Adel Abdul-Mahdi had asked for it and the parliament also passed a resolution calling for the full withdrawal of the occupying forces.
After Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in mid-March launched a strike on Mossad’s secret facility in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, al-Kaabi said the fact that the region “provides Mossad agents with refuge” made it legitimate for any party to target the “Zionist spies.”
The Erbil operation targeted the “lair of the Zionists” who have “taken refuge with a famous family to carry out their mercenary operations,” he said, referring to the Barzani family, which has dominated Iraqi Kurdistan's politics for decades.
Angry protesters took to the streets and torched a KDP office in Baghdad in March following a tweet by a former KDP parliamentary candidate, Naif Jardo Ahmed al-Gargari, insulting Iraq's cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Kurdish forces seize oil wells
On Saturday, Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company said Peshmerga forces from the regional Kurdish government had occupied some oil wells in northern Kirkuk.
The forces, it said, arrived with a technical team from the Kurdish region and took over some of the oil wells in the Bai Hassan oilfield, which is operated by the North Oil Company.
Kirkuk’s oilfields had been under Kurdish control since 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of Daesh. Iraqi forces took back control of the fields in 2017 following a referendum on Kurdish secession.
The US and the Europeans have long struggled not to alienate Baghdad through shoring up the local government in Kurdistan. Israel, however, has openly supported the Iraqi Kurdistan's bid for secession.
The Kurdistan Regional Government has long vied for control of Kirkuk’s oil which can reportedly hit 1 million barrels per day with further development. In the past, there have been numerous reports about the Kurdistan region clandestinely transferring oil to Israel.
The latest move comes as the West is straining for new energy sources amid the raging war in Ukraine which has resulted in a surge in global oil prices, and the rising cost of fuel.
On Thursday, the United States said it has allowed some foreign investment in energy-rich northern areas of neighboring Syria under control of SDF Kurdish militants.
The license authorized purchases of oil products such as gasoline in the area, except for transactions involving the Syrian government or those designated under US sanctions.
Former US president Donald Trump admitted on more than one occasion that American forces were in Syria for its oil.