Kurdistan never intended to engage in war with Iraq, foreign minister says

Falah Mustafa Bakir
Falah Mustafa Bakir

Falah Mustafa Bakir, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s foreign relations department, answers a reporter’s question during a Newsmaker interview with The Associated Press in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.

:: The ‭Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) never intended to engage in a war with the Iraqi army, Kurdish foreign minister Falah Mustafa Bakir told broadcaster CNN in an interview.

There is a need for dialogue between KRG and Iraq so as to reach a common understanding, Bakir said, adding that the dispute was not about oil or the national flag but about the future of two nations.

Turkey said Wednesday that Iraq’s retaking of the northern city of Kirkuk from Kurdish forces earlier this week has rectified the Kurds’ “mistake” in holding a non-binding referendum on independence last month.

Turkey has close ties to the leadership of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, but had urged them not to hold the vote. Iraq’s central government and neighboring Iran were also deeply opposed to the referendum, in which more than 90 percent voted for independence.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders “miscalculated and didn’t listen to our recommendations,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a news conference in Ankara with his Portuguese counterpart.

“They thought they would make further gains – they didn’t. They thought they would unite the Kurds. On the contrary it has unfortunately divided Kurds in Iraq. There is huge chaos and confusion.”

The referendum has put Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in a delicate position as he now faces questions over whether the vote was worth the consequences – losing the oil-rich Kirkuk region and other territories to federal authorities.

Kurdish officials said Wednesday that elections for Barzani’s post and the Kurdish parliament have been postponed. The regional electoral commission, citing the developments in Kirkuk, said the Iraqi Kurdish parliament would pick a new date. It also said there were not enough candidates to proceed with the polls, which were originally slated for Nov. 1.

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