By Haydar Hadi
BAGHDAD (AA) - Baghdad is responsible for security in parts of Iraq “disputed” between Baghdad and Erbil, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday, going on to warn Kurdish Peshmerga forces against taking on federal government forces.
“The central government is solely authorized to provide security in disputed areas [of Iraq],” al-Abadi said at a press conference in Baghdad.
“I urge Peshmerga forces deployed in these areas to refrain from fighting federal government forces,” he added.
According to Iraq’s 2005 constitution, Kurdish Peshmerga forces are answerable to the central government in Baghdad. On the ground, however, they take their orders from northern Iraq’s Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
Al-Abadi’s assertions come two weeks after an illegitimate Sept. 25 referendum that saw Iraqis in KRG-controlled-held areas -- and in areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil -- vote on whether or not to declare independence from Iraq.
According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.
At Tuesday’s press conference, al-Abadi also said that any dialogue between Baghdad and the KRG would depend on the annulment of the poll results.
“We will not hold any talks with KRG officials until the referendum results are overturned,” he asserted.
The referendum had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors -- including the U.S., Turkey and Iran -- who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the already-volatile region.
In the two weeks since the referendum, Baghdad has taken several retaliatory measures against the KRG, including a ban on all international flights into the Kurdish region and the closure of foreign diplomatic missions based there.
On Monday, Iraq’s Council of Ministers announced that legal procedures had been initiated against all KRG employees involved in organizing last month’s poll.