Conflict between Baghdad, Erbil over US Forces in Kirkuk

 Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
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Conflict between Baghdad, Erbil over US Forces in Kirkuk

 Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Iraqi forces denied, on Thursday, claims made by officials in Kurdistan, Iraq, regarding the arrival of US forces to the disputed Kirkuk. Erbil, however, insisted on the announcement.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement, Thursday, that some media outlets talked about the advance of US forces in Kirkuk, reporting sources from Kurdistan, Iraq. Yet, the command denied the news and affirmed that there is no increase of the coalition forces not in Kirkuk nor in the rest of Iraqi territories.

The statement, which was posted on Facebook, stressed that it is not the foreign forces mission to seize the territory, and they don’t even have the possibility to do so in terms of soldiers and equipment.

“Kirkuk security is an Iraqi national responsibility,” clarified the statement.

Kurdish counter-terrorism forces sources reported that US army forces are advancing to Kirkuk in order to form a joint operations chamber that is entitled to coordinate and cooperate with the Iraqi Army to ensure Kirkuk's security.

Jalal Sheikh Naji, officer at counter-terrorism forces in Sulaimaniyah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the purpose behind recruiting these forces is to reinforce intelligence and security cooperation among the US forces, Iraqi Army and counter-terrorism bodies in order to protect the security condition in Kirkuk.”

He added that there are suspicious movements in the region, requiring more security vigilance.

“The presence of US forces will solidify internal security in Kirkuk, and the region in general,” he continued.

Naji pointed out that as the US army spreads in the camp, a joint operations chamber will be formed to serve intelligence and security coordination that would be quite helpful in confronting terrorists in case they dare to return and threaten the region.



Iraq Says No Green Light to Turkish Operations in Kurdistan

Smoke billows from a Turkish strike on Iraq's Duhok. (Kurdish media)
Smoke billows from a Turkish strike on Iraq's Duhok. (Kurdish media)
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Iraq Says No Green Light to Turkish Operations in Kurdistan

Smoke billows from a Turkish strike on Iraq's Duhok. (Kurdish media)
Smoke billows from a Turkish strike on Iraq's Duhok. (Kurdish media)

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said on Friday his country hasn’t given Türkiye the green light to carry out operations in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

In televised remarks, he said the Baghdad government needs to hold more “security discussions with Turkish officials, even though it recognizes that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is also an Iraqi problem.”

He added that the Turkish army has been deployed in some Iraqi territories since 1991.

The deployment will be discussed during meetings with Turkish officials that will be held soon, he revealed.

Previous discussions with Türkiye did not yield an agreement over the security file, continued the FM. Türkiye is tying its deployment to the presence of the PKK.

Given that the group is present in Iraq, then it must also be dealt with in an “Iraqi way,” he went on to say.

The Turkish military’s incursion of 40 kms inside Iraqi territory had sparked widespread political and popular uproar.

Iraq’s national security council convened to address the issue.

Spokesman of the armed forces Yahya Rasool said the council tackled the Turkish violations and interference in the joint Iraqi-Turkish border regions.

He stressed Baghdad’s rejection of the incursion and undermining of Iraq’s territorial integrity.

Türkiye must respect the principles of good neighborliness and work diplomatically with the Iraqi government and coordinate with it over any security issue, he added.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani had dispatched a delegation led by the national security council head to Kurdistan to discuss general affairs and come up with a unified position over Iraq’s sovereignty.