Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi prime minister and commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, has called on Kurdish Peshmerga forces to operate under his command.
According to Iraq’s 2005 constitution, the Peshmerga are answerable to Iraq’s Defense Ministry. In reality, however, they remain entirely controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) led by KRG President Masoud Barzani.
At a Thursday press conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron (and broadcast on Iraqi state television), al-Abadi urged the Peshmerga “to work alongside Iraqi forces in disputed areas [of Iraq] to help maintain stability and security there”.
Stressing that Baghdad did not want to clash with Erbil (the KRG’s administrative capital), the prime minister called on Kurdish Peshmerga forces to put themselves “under the command of [Iraqi] federal forces”.
“Baghdad doesn’t want to see any armed confrontations with Kurdish forces following last week’s referendum,” al-Abadi asserted.
On Sept. 25, Iraqis in KRG-held areas -- and in several areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil -- voted on whether or not to declare independence from Iraq.
According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.
The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, many of whom had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
At Thursday’s press conference, the French president, too, emphasized the need to resolve the region’s problems -- especially those arising from last week’s referendum -- through dialogue.
“We want Iraq to engage in national reconciliation with a view to maintaining its unity and stability,” Macron said, stressing his country’s support for Iraq’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Dialogue is the only solution to the crisis caused by the referendum,” he added.