The Iraqi prime minister has agreed to a proposal to allow a joint Baghdad-Erbil military command to police the disputed areas.
Iraqi Trade Minister Khairollah Babakir (a Kurd) said that Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki agreed to the proposal during a cabinet meeting Tuesday, 20 November, to form a joint Iraq-Kurdistan Region security command in the disputed areas as a measure to avoid further tensions, PUK affiliated Xendan website reported.
The proposal can be considered a breakthrough amid heightened tensions between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the federal Iraqi Army in the disputed areas following clashes between the two on 16 November, in which one person was killed and several others wounded in the disputed town of Tuz Khurmatu, 240km north of Baghdad
The two forces have been put on high alert since.
The incident followed the formation of the Tigris Operations Command on the prime minister’s direct orders to take over full responsibility for security in the said areas, and the decision prompted widespread condemnation from Kurdish leaders.
The minister added that the premier “highly criticized” Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani during the meeting, “mainly because the Kurdistan Regional Government has signed oil contracts [with foreign firms] without referring to Baghdad and its president [Barzani] signed protocols with foreign countries”.
Personal relations between Al-Maliki and Barzani have reached an all time low in recent months over several issues, including the KRG’s bid to control its oil resources away from the centre.
Lack of progress in this regard promoted Barzani earlier this year to lead an effort to bring down the prime minister in a motion of no confidence; but to no avail.