Imposition of a status quo by force over disputed areas is unacceptable, says Haidar Al-Abadi.Iraq’s prime minister on Tuesday warned the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) against mobilizing their armed Peshmerga forces in the disputed northern province of Kirkuk.
Haidar Al-Abadi went on to call for joint administration between the Iraqi government and the KRG over the disputed areas in Kirkuk under the leadership of the federal government in Baghdad, without giving further details on how this would work.
The remarks came during Al-Abadi’s weekly press conference at the government headquarters in Baghdad following a Cabinet meeting.
Al-Abadi said: "I warn of the actions of the region’s military mobilization in Kirkuk, it is dangerous... The imposition of a status quo by force over the disputed areas is unacceptable."
The Kirkuk province along with parts of the provinces of Nineveh, Saladin (northern Iraq) and Diyala (eastern Iraq) are disputed between Baghdad and the KRG and inhabited by a mixture of ethnic Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen.
On Sept. 25, Iraqis in KRG-held areas -- and in several areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, including Kirkuk -- voted on whether or not to declare independence from Iraq.
Hours before it was to begin, the northern Iraqi administration mobilized additional Peshmerga forces to Kirkuk with a view to securing the illegal referendum.
According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.
The illegitimate referendum had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors, many of whom warned that it would distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the already-volatile region.