Heavy exchanges of fire are (20 Oct 2017 morning CET) taking place in the north of Kirkuk between the Kurdish Peshmergas and the Iraqi forces. By 12:30 (Iraqi time), Altun Kupri (north of Kirkuk) would have fallen to Iraqi forces, including the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), Iraqi Shiite militia backed by the Iranian Quds.
Peshmergas had taken position North of Kirkuk on 19 October, following not only the capture by Iraqi forces of territory such as Kirkuk, that the Kurds had freed from the Islamic State – territory which population had voted during the Kurdish referendum – but also exactions on the Kurdish population at the hand notably of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) Iraqi Shiite militia backed by Iranian Quds.
On 18 Oct Iraqi President Abadi had ordered the Hashd al-Shaabi to withdraw, which they did. Nonetheless, on 19 October, in the city of Khanaqin, one person was killed and three were wounded after a peacefull demonstration denouncing Iraqis forces exactions.
At the political level the situation seems to be also confused. Prime Minister Abadi offered the Kurds to start negotiations (always with conditions), while an Iraqi court issued a warrant to arrest the Kurdish Vice President Rasul, for having strongly denounced the exactions. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in response both welcomed the offer to restart negotiations by the Iraqi government on 19 Oct evening and condemn the warrant against its Vice President.
Meanwhile, Kurdish internecine struggles between various factions within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and between the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), some factions within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and a new party the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ), are ongoing. Each blames some others for the situation.
As a result, it is likely that the Kurdish current political power tends to have lost a lot of legitimacy. Considering the last three years of fighting against the Islamic State, this legitimacy is more likely to be currently invested in the Peshmergas and their command.
It would seem that the host of power struggles taking place currently around the Iraqi Kurdistan, its borders, its oil resources and its political status – i.e. Kurdish infighting at political level and possible pitting politicians against the military; Kurds versus Iraqi political authorities; Iranian and Turkish interests and involvements; American actions against Iran; as well as Russian attempts probably at stabilising the region, while also asserting its influence and protecting its oil and gas interests in Kurdistan, without forgetting Israel interest to strategically stop Iran to continue developing the geographical scope of its influence in Iraq and Syria – has gotten out of hand, opening the way for a forceful solution involving military actions. The latter may range from heavy clashes to more sustained operations.
There is a high uncertainty on the ability of each actor to stabilise a very highly tense and fluid situation, while their willingness to do so varies according to interests. The fog of war seems to rise again on the region.
20 Oct 2017
19 Oct 2017
- Kurdistan deploys Peshmerga to Kirkuk, prepared to defeat ‘invaders’ (Rudaw)
- One killed, three wounded in protest in Khanaqin (Rudaw)
The Council of Ministers welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s call for negotiations in order to address the issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi Federal Government, within the framework of the federal constitution, and based on partnership and consensus.
18 Oct 2017
The two leaders discussed Russian-Israeli cooperation in the context of the agreements they reached in Sochi on August 23. They also spoke about the Syrian settlement, the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as the results of a recent referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Rosneft and Kurdistan Regional Government announce the entry of Rosneft into an infrastructure project in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region
The mutually beneficial partnership of Rosneft and Kurdistan commenced last winter: in February 2017, at the IP Week Conference in London (UK), the Parties signed an agreement on cooperation in exploration, production, infrastructure, logistics and trading of hydrocarbons. Pursuant to the agreement, the parties signed a contract for the purchase and sale of oil to Rosneft from 2017 to 2019.
Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft and Iraqi Kurdistan authorities have signed an agreement for operation of an oil export pipeline in the Kurdish Autonomous Region, Rosneft said on Friday.
ERBIL/BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) – About 100,000 Kurds have fled Kirkuk for fear of sectarian reprisals since Iraqi government forces took over the city after a Kurdish independence referendum condemned by Baghdad, regional Kurdish officials said on Thursday.