Lawmakers Upbeat on Baghdad-Erbil Negotiations

Lawmakers Upbeat on Baghdad-Erbil NegotiationsLawmakers Upbeat on Baghdad-Erbil Negotiations

Lawmakers have expressed favorable views on the reports suggesting that negotiations between the Iraqi federal government and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region are in prospect, saying such talks would be "beneficial" to both sides.

In a recent talk with ICANA, Shahbaz Hassanpour said that "Iran has always supported an integrated Iraq and would take both sides' interests into account to prevent them from suffering any [possible] harm."

Last Thursday, Iraqi media quoted an informed source from the National Iraqi Alliance as saying that Baghdad and Erbil have agreed to form a committee to reach a solution for the crisis arisen from the latter holding an illegal independence referendum last September, which resulted in an overwhelming yes in favor of secession.

"The two parties will form a committee of seven members; five of them from Baghdad and two Kurdish. It will review all the disputes between both sides," Iraqi News quoted the source as saying.

The remarks came amid conflicting news that Erbil—the seat of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government—approved handing over the border crossings and airports to the federal government, which are demands that the government had set as preconditions for negotiations since the eruption of the crisis.

Hassanpour noted that "since its inception, The Islamic Republic of Iran has always been with Kurds and cooperated with them as far as possible."

  Valuable Entity

He said Iran considers Iraqi Kurdistan "a valuable entity" for the region because of its brave people.

Echoing that view, lawmaker Kamal Dehqani, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said the decision by the Iraqi government to hold talks with Erbil would be supported by neighboring countries.

"Holding talks are supported as they are good for peace and prosperity of Iraq," he said.

Pointing to the opposition of Iraq's neighboring countries, including Iran and Turkey, regarding the banned referendum, Dehqani said their stances were only "rational and legal" because a referendum that is held without the consent of the federal government would be internationally condemned.

"[Iraq's neighboring countries] have always said that if [Iraqi] Kurds have any problems with the federal government, they must solve it in the framework of the constitution."

He criticized the mistake of "a group within the Iraqi Kurdistan who stirred up nationalist sensations," adding that it could lead to a major crisis, putting regional security in danger, an apparent reference to the military confrontation between Baghdad and Kurdish forces.

The referendum set off a chain of events, culminating in a military confrontation between Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, and Baghdad.

The Kurds consider the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk and parts of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahudin provinces as the "disputed areas" which they want to be incorporated into their Kurdish region, a move fiercely opposed by the Arabs and Turkmen living there and by Baghdad.

The ethnically mixed Kirkuk Province, located in the south of the Kurdish region, is rich in oil resources and has an estimated population of 1, 25 million. It had been controlled by the Peshmerga since 2014. In October 2017, the Iraqi security forces took control of several cities, including Kirkuk, from Kurdish forces in a lightning assault.


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