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Iraq’s Kurds weigh fall out from US, Iran conflict 

Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil, Iraq on 27 January 2019 [Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency]
Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil, Iraq on 27 January 2019 [Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency]

With the risk of being caught in the cross fire of the conflict between US and Iran, Iraq’s Kurds are appealing to both parties to keep the region out of the conflict.

Leaders of the Kurdish community met today to discuss the fallout from the latest escalation in conflict which saw Iran launch a series of rockets at US air bases in Iraq.

Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, Parliament Speaker Rewaz Fayiq released a joint statement expressing “deep concerns” over the rapid increase in the tensions.

The three leaders stressed that there is no solution to the dispute through military actions.

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“The Kurdistan Region urges de-escalation, dialogue and diplomatic means to resolve the tensions,” the statement continued. “It also asks all the parties to keep the Kurdistan Region out of the conflicts.”

The Kurdish top officials also stressed the international and US-led coalition’s support for the Kurdistan Region is essential to continue the war on terror.

Iraq’s Kurds, along with the other main minority group, Sunnis, have watched the escalation in violence with greater trepidation. Both harbour strong grievances against the Shia-led government in Baghdad which was imposed by the US following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Leaders of both communities abstained from voting on Sunday’s resolution calling for the expulsion of American troops from Iraq. Some 5,000 US troops remain in the country, most in an advisory role. Their presence is viewed by many as a security umbrella against sectarian tensions.

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Some Kurds, however, see the possible expulsion of American soldiers as a chance to advance their long-cherished dream for an independent state.

According to Al-Monitor, sources familiar with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s thinking say that allowing the US to redeploy troops expelled by Baghdad to the Kurdish region was a possibility. However, the only condition under which they might consider agreeing to a continued US military presence would be in exchange for recognition of their independent state and written guarantees that the US would protect the KRG from attack.

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