Iraqi PM Abadi says Turkey surprised about Kurdish-Iraqi cooperation in anti-ISIS Mosul operation

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Kurdistan Region's President Masoud Barzani (R) and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi attend a joint news conference in Erbil. File photo: Reuters

ARA News

Erbil – The high-level of cooperation between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the anti-ISIS battle for Mosul has exceeded the expectations of regional and international powers. Even Turkey was surprised by this cooperation, Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday.

The Iraqi PM also said that he believes that the Kurdish president Masoud Barzani is committed to previous agreements to withdraw Kurdish Peshmerga forces from areas liberated as part of the Mosul operation launched in mid October.

“According to the agreement between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdish regional government, the Peshmerga should withdraw from areas which they have advanced after the start of the operation of liberating Mosul,” Iraqi PM Abadi told the AP in Baghdad. Thus, this does not include areas that were liberated or secured by Peshmerga forces before 17 October, such as Sinjar, Kirkuk, and other areas.

The Kurdistan presidency said that the Arab media has misinterpreted the speech of the Kurdish president Barzani in Bashiqa on 16 November regarding the Peshmerga withdrawal from Kurdish liberated areas.

“This is an agreement and I think Mr. Massoud Barzani has said in public he will abide by this. There is no reason for me to believe they don’t. They said to my face, they said that in the agreement, they said that in public,” Abadi said.

“I can see some Kurdish politicians are saying otherwise. But they are not responsible people and they are not controlling events on the ground. I think this is some of the political competition between different parties in Kurdistan. Kurdistan is now split between different political parties and I think there are a lot of problems in that region. It is not my job to take advantage of these differences,” the Iraqi Prime Minister said.

“My job is to unify all Iraqis toward one Iraq. If you look carefully at the map of Iraq, Iraq has been or is at the moment much more united than any time since 2003 or in 1990 when Saddam attacked and occupied Kuwait. Iraqis are now more united than before. They see Iraq as one. They have more faith now in one Iraq, a unified Iraq. I hope this will continue, especially after the liberation of Mosul,” he stated.

Moreover, the Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi said he is not worried German or Canadian support for Kurds could be used against Iraq if there is no satisfactory settlement. The Canadian media was worried that the training by Canadian forces could be misused by Kurds against the Iraqi army in the future in a war for an independent state.

“Well, of course, if there is no satisfactory settlement. That is why we are moving toward a satisfactory settlement between the Kurdish regional government and the federal government. That is why we are working together,” Abadi said. “All this support has been done by the consent of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government accepted this. All this training that is provided by the Canadians, the Germans and the Americans and by the British to the Kurdish region is done by the acceptance of the Iraqi government.”

“But in actual fact, I consider the support of the Peshmerga as the same support for the Iraqi security forces because the Peshmerga has become part of the federal Iraqi security arrangement. In supporting the Peshmerga, they will be more capable of securing their own areas, of combating terrorism in the area,” the Iraqi PM concluded.

According to the Iraqi Prime Minister in the past the Kurds were afraid that arming the Iraqi army could be used against the Kurds and vice versa. The Kurdish president Masoud Barzani was afraid in 2012 that the former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki could use F-16s against the Kurdistan region. Therefore, he argued in the town of Bashiqa two weeks ago that the Peshmergas will continue to be trained to face future threats.

“If we work together, I think we will be strengthening each other and that’s why we agreed for the Peshmerga … this was quite a challenge, nobody thought it would happen,” Abadi said.

“Even the Turks were taken by surprise that the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army are fighting together and they are cooperating together. This has used a lot of our energy, a lot of our own cooperation to make this possible and happening on the ground. We are moving in the right direction. I know that some others are used to differences and are trying to push us apart. I hope they will not be successful. We have to stay on track,” he concluded.

During his victory speech in Bashiqa city, Kurdish President Barzani stressed that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will punish those jihadists who were involved in the kidnapping and enslavement of Yezidi women. “We will continue to pursue every individual who played a part in harming our women. Wherever they may be, they will pay.”

Iraq’s leading Kurdish politician also declared that the Islamic State’s confederates and supporters would not be tolerated in Bashiqa or other disputed territories. “We will not allow ISIS collaborators to return to areas liberated by Peshmerga. They have become partners with ISIS. Territories liberated in the Mosul offensive will be left to locals to defend,” Barzani said.

“Our goal is to deliver peace and stability to liberated areas. We will not differentiate between groups. We will not abandon you,” Barzani added.

The President of Iraqi Kurdistan said that the Kurdish Peshmerga will continue to be mobilized, trained and armed since it’s unclear what threats may emerge in the future. “After the removal of the Baath regime [in 2003] we were faced with Ansar al-Sunna and al-Qaeda. Now we have defeated ISIS,” he stated.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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