WORLD Kurdish parties opposed to Barzani report attacks on offices overnight


Kurdish parties opposed to Barzani report attacks on offices overnight

Maher Chmaytelli | Reuters

03:09, October 31, 2017


The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) building is seen after it was burnt overnight, in the town of Zakho, Iraq October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Movement for Change and Gorran said in separate statements several of their offices in the Duhok region, north of the Kurdish capital Erbil, were looted or burnt overnight. No casualties were reported.

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq said it had ordered the local police forces, known as Asayish, to stop the attacks.

Barzani, 71, said on Sunday he would give up his position as president on Nov. 1 after an independence referendum he championed in northern Iraq backfired and triggered military and economic retaliation by the Iraqi government.

The veteran guerrilla leader has run Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region since 2005, presiding with a firm hand as the region prospered while the rest of Iraq struggled in civil war. But he has been tarnished in recent weeks by his decision to push the independence vote, and his downfall has exposed deep fractures among the Kurds.

Armed protesters supporting Barzani stormed parliament as it met on Sunday to approve his resignation. Opposition lawmakers who had been barricaded inside managed to leave later, according to their parties.

The PUK, which has been the main rival of Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) for decades, supported his decision to hold the independence referendum, but half-heartedly. The reformist Gorran party opposed the vote, arguing that the timing was poor.

In a televised speech announcing his plan to step down, Barzani said followers of his long-term rival, PUK founder Jalal Talabani who died in early October, had been guilty of “high treason” for handing over the oil city of Kirkuk to Iraqi forces without a fight two weeks ago.

Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga had held Kirkuk, one of Iraq’s main oil centers, since 2014 when they seized it after government troops fled in the face of an advance by Islamic State.

Although Kirkuk is outside the borders of the Kurdish autonomous region, Kurds consider it the heart of their homeland. This month, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi ordered his forces to recapture it and all other disputed territory in retaliation after Barzani staged the independence referendum, which Baghdad considers illegal.

After Saddam’s fall, Barzani ran the Kurdish autonomous region while his rival Talabani served as ceremonial president of all of Iraq in Baghdad from 2005-2014.

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