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In Bid to Defuse Crisis, Kurdistan Offers to Freeze Referendum Results

In Bid to Defuse Crisis, Kurdistan Offers to Freeze Referendum Results

Wednesday, 25 October, 2017 - 05:30
An Iraqi soldier takes down Kurdish flags in wake of the successful operation to recapture Kirkuk. (AFP)

The Kurdistan Regional Government announced on Monday that it was prepared to freeze the results of last month’s contentious independence referendum in favor of easing the crisis that erupted with the Baghdad government.

It called in a statement for an immediate ceasefire and halt to all military operations in the region,

The Baghdad government launched last week an offensive to retake regions in the North that Kurds had seized during their three-year battle against ISIS. In a lightening operation, the Iraqi forces managed to push back the Kurds to pre-ISIS war regions.

Some 30 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and members of Iraqi government and paramilitary forces died in operations "to restore central power" in the disputed territories, including the wealthy province of Kirkuk.

By losing the huge oil fields there, Kurdistan has seen the possibility of an economically viable state disappear, experts say.

In its statement, the KRG called for an open dialogue between Irbil and Baghdad based on the country's constitution.

Iraq had called for the cancellation of the results of the independence vote as a precondition for any talks.

On Tuesday, Iraqi pro-government paramilitaries launched an offensive against Kurdish troops near the Turkish frontier, pushing towards a strategic border crossing and oil export pipeline hub that Baghdad says must come under its control.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has demanded central control of Iraq’s border crossings with Turkey, all of which are inside the Kurdish autonomous region itself.

The fighting between the central government and the Kurds is particularly tricky for the United States which is close allies of both sides, arming and training both the Kurds and the central government’s army to fight against ISIS.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Baghdad this week, but Abadi rebuffed his call for Iraq to reject the role of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces that fight alongside government troops and have taken a hard line on the Kurds.

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