Iraqi Kurdistan send more troops into
standoff with Iraq Arab-led army
Peshmerga's heavy weapons
arrived in west Kirkuk
An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stands on a tank,
flying the Kurdish flag, stationed 20 kilometres
north of Kirkuk on November 24, 2012. Security
sources said Sunday that a big Peshmerga forces with
their heavy weapons arrived in Dibis area, west of
Kirkuk. The force moved from Erbil Saturday night
and stationed in Dibis area this morning. Photo: AFP
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November 25, 2012
Kurdistan region 'Iraq',— Iraq's Kurdistan region
has sent reinforcements to a disputed area where its
troops are involved in a standoff with the Iraqi
army, a senior Kurdish military official said,
despite calls on both sides for dialogue to calm the
The second military buildup this year illustrates
how far relations between Baghdad's central
government, led by Shi'ite Muslim Arabs, and ethnic
Kurds have deteriorated, testing Iraq's federal
cohesion nearly a year after U.S. troops left.
Baghdad and Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region
earlier this week began sending troops to an area
over which they both claim jurisdiction, raising
tensions in a long-running feud over land and oil
More Kurdish troops and tanks were mobilised on
Saturday and headed towards the disputed areas, the
deputy minister for Kurdish military affairs said
late on Saturday, adding that they would hold their
positions unless Iraqi forces made a move.
"If they overstep the line, we will strike them,"
Anwar Haji Osman said.
The Iraqi army and Kurdish troops have previously
come close to confrontation only to pull back at the
last moment, flexing their muscles but lacking any
real appetite for a fight.
Iraq's speaker of parliament, who visited Kurdish
President Massoud Barzani on Friday, said
"significant progress" had been made towards
defusing the standoff and that a meeting between
military leaders from both sides would be held on
Monday in the Defence Ministry in Baghdad.
Washington intervened to end a similar standoff in
August and is again in contact with Iraqi and
Kurdish officials to ease tension mounting over the
formation of a new command centre for Iraqi forces
to operate in the disputed areas.
Kurds say the Dijla Operations Command is a threat
to them and an attempt by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
to seize control over the oil rich territories along
the internal border that demarcates the Kurdish
region from the rest of Iraq.
Maliki says the Dijla Operations Command is
necessary to keep order in one of the most volatile
parts of the country.
Barzani on Saturday turned down an invitation from
Shi'ite cleric and lawmaker Moqtada al-Sadr to meet
with Maliki to discuss the situation.
In a statement posted on the Kurdistan regional
government's website, Barzani's spokesman said he
had refused because the matter was not personal,www.ekurd.net
but rather a result of Maliki's "constant
non-commitment to the constitution".
The latest flare-up began one week ago when Iraqi
troops went after a fuel smuggler who had taken
refuge in the office of a Kurdish political party in
Tuz Khurmato, 170 km (106 miles) north of the
capital, sparking a clash with Kurdish Peshmerga
fighters in which one passerby was killed.
Maliki has sparred more aggressively with Barzani
since the withdrawal last year of U.S. troops who
had served as a buffer between the federal Baghdad
government and Kurdistan.
The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the most disputed areas by the
regional government and the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
The Kurds are seeking to integrate the province into the semi-autonomous
Kurdistan Region clamming it to be historically a Kurdish city, it lies just
south border of the Kurdistan autonomous region, the population is a mix of
majority Kurds and minority of Arabs, Christians and Turkmen, lies 250 km
northeast of Baghdad.
Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional
attachment to Kirkuk, which they call "the Kurdish
Jerusalem." Kurds see it as the rightful and
perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to
the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city
and other disputed areas through having back its
Kurdish inhabitants and repatriating the Arabs
relocated in the city during the former regime’s
time to their original provinces in central and
The article also calls for conducting a census to be
followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants
decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed
to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having
it as an independent province.
The former regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
had forced over 250,000 Kurdish residents to give up
their homes to Arabs in the 1970s, to "Arabize" the
city and the region's oil industry.
The last ethnic-breakdown census in Iraq was
conducted in 1957, well before Saddam began his
program to move Arabs to Kirkuk. That count showed
178,000 Kurds, 48,000 Turkomen, 43,000 Arabs and
10,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christians living in the
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