MİDDLE EAST

Iraq’s advances ‘beginning of the end’ for Barzani

Iraqi forces captured Kirkuk within three hours despite the presence of 14,000 Peshmerga and approximately 1,400 PKK terrorists, causing KRG leader Masoud Barzani’s ‘Great Kurdistan’ dreams to become a nightmare

Editor / Internet Yeni Şafak

Masoud Barzani’s so-called “Great Kurdistan” venture, initiated by trusting in the U.S. and Israel, appears to have drawn to a close. Barzani did not heed the warning of the people he shared land with and is doomed to an ending of disappointment just like his father Mustafa Barzani.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader ignored the warnings of Iraq, Iran and Turkey and held an illegitimate referendum on Sept. 25 in an attempt to bring to life a puppet state of the U.S. and Israel.

Barzani's independent state initiative collapsed with the operation by the Iraqi army and allied fighters from Hashd al-Shaabi launched on Oct. 16.

Iraqi forces capture Kirkuk in three hours

Iraqi forces and Hashd al-Shaabi captured Kirkuk with minimal clashes within three hours despite the presence of 14,000 Peshmerga and approximately 1,400 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists.

A curfew was declared and entry and exit points were closed. A statue depicting a Peshmerga fighter in Iraq’s Kirkuk was set on fire by Iraqi forces on Tuesday. The statue is expected to be demolished soon.

Turkmens and Arabs are demanding to return to the pre-2005 situation in Kirkuk and to create a structure that fairly represents all ethnicities with a centralized management model. Kirkuk’s 2005 population of 840,000 was raised to 1,600,000 by Kurds strategically positioned in the city to alter its demographics.

Beginning of the end

Barzani’s forces, which have tried to change the ethnic structure of the Turkmen city Kirkuk since 2003, were forced to retreat from the city they occupied under the guise of combatting Daesh in 2014.

The Peshmerga left an area of 30,000 square kilometers within 11 hours without serious conflict. The Kurdish opposition wing called for Barzani’s resignation.

Iraqi forces established full control in Kirkuk’s city center as well as other parts of northern Iraq, signaling the beginning of the end for Barzani, whose own Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) also reacted to.

Complete isolation

Politicians in Erbil who spoke to Yeni Şafak daily said Barzani, who would be completely isolated as a result of his losses, will be cut off from both northern Iraq and the KRG administration with the steps to be taken by Iran and Turkey.

The sources pointed out that there were large groups complaining of the “feudal system” in the region. Though Barzani may have triggered a certain level of excitement in the streets with the “Great Kurdistan” slogan, the reality of the situation was quick to set in.

“After this, Tehran and Ankara will not just let Erbil be,” said the sources.

Referendum belongs to the past

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the retaking of Kirkuk on Monday, as well as all disputed areas claimed by both the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government and the central authorities in Baghdad.

Abadi ordered his troops to raise their flag over all Kurdish-held territory outside the autonomous region itself. They achieved a swift victory in Kirkuk, reaching the center of the city in less than a day.

“The KRG referendum is now in the past,” Abadi said. “The Iraqi flag belongs to all Iraqi citizens; it should be hoisted all over the country.”

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