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Kurdish leader vows to take up arms defending Kirkuk

The President of the Kurdistan regional government Massoud Barzani said on Friday that his army is controlling Kirkuk and other areas disputed with Baghdad. This is final as article 140 regarding these areas “no longer exists.”

“We waited for 10 years for Baghdad to solve Article 140,” he said in a joint press conference with the British foreign minister William Hague.

Kurds have been trying for ten years to incorporate these areas into their autonomous region in the north, but successive Iraqi governments in Baghdad have objected to this move.

“Now it is accomplished because the Iraqi army pulled out and our Peshmerga forces had to step in,” he explained, “so now the problem is solved. There will be more no further conversations about it.”

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution stipulates carrying out a referendum over the disputed areas, especially Kirkuk, which is rich with oil and is the core of the crisis.

On June 12 Peshmerga forces filled the vacuum made by the Iraqi forces when they fled fearing attacks by Sunni rebels and ISIS groups.

Earlier on Thursday Barzani said that Kurds were ready to bring together all Peshmerga forces to protect Kirkuk. He said: “If necessary, I will take up arms myself to defend Kirkuk and its people.”

He reiterated that what he wanted for the protection of Kirkuk and its people had been achieved. Meanwhile, US secretary of state John Kerry urged Barzani on Tuesday not to seek his own state and instead help form a government in Baghdad.

The New York Times reported that Kerry told Barzani: “This moment requires statesmanship.”

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