KRP Chief of Staff "Kurdish Guard Troops Not Moving Into New Areas"

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In response to recent false reports, Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein of the Kurdistan Region Presidency today clarified the Kurdish position on recent events in Diyala, in eastern Iraq.

KRP Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein

It is not the policy of the Kurdistan Region to unilaterally annex any territory. Kurdish Guard troops have been in predominantly Kurdish areas of Diyala since they coordinated with American Special Forces to liberate the area from Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. They are there to fight terrorism and protect the population, nothing more.

In response to recent false reports, Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein of the Kurdistan Region Presidency today clarified the Kurdish position on recent events in Diyala, in eastern Iraq. Mr. Hussein unequivocally stated that, "It is not the policy of the Kurdistan Region to unilaterally annex any territory. Kurdish Guard troops have been in predominantly Kurdish areas of Diyala since they coordinated with American Special Forces to liberate the area from Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. They are there to fight terrorism and protect the population, nothing more."

He went on to say, "any resolution to this dispute must take place through the constitutionally established mechanisms of Article 140 (in the 2005 Iraqi Constitution). Gone are the days of an Iraq governed by force, irresponsive to the desires and needs of its people. We know that, we are committed to that, and we will see the so-called 'disputed areas' given their just and legal say at the polls. The borders of the Kurdistan Region will only be set when Article 140 of the Constitution has been fully implemented. That is how a democracy works - by rule of law, not rule of fist."

Hussein also expressed surprise at comments issued from an American Major General on the matter, explaining that last year the central government and coalition forces requested more Kurdish troops be sent to the area in question to root out terrorism.

Kurdish Guard troops and Kurdish units in the Iraq Army have been critical in the recent security gains in Iraq, with the 34th Brigade (Kurdistan Region forces) in particular playing a critical role in stabilizing the Diyala Province. As Mr. Hussein points out, "While the great service of these Kurdish troops to local communities in Baghdad is recognized and appreciated publicly and locally, the very same services rendered to the communities in Diyala are seen as inflammatory? This is a nonsensical position. We are in it for the good of all Iraq's people. That is why these troops are in Diyala - to fight terrorism and protect civilians. Their presence has nothing to do with the political outcome, which must be determined by the people concerned and in the interests of those most affected according to the Iraqi Constitution. We have nothing to fear from such an electoral process. We must ask, why do others seem so afraid of allowing the Iraqi people to exercise their democratic rights? Are we or are we not a democracy?"

"The sacrifices the Kurdish people and the Kurdistan Region guards have made for the new Iraq should not be forgotten. When the city of Mosul was on the verge of being overtaken by terrorists in November 2004, they (coalition forces and the central government) asked for our help and we responded without question. Our success in these endeavours has come at a heavy cost for the people of our region and has been fundamental to the security gains that have saved American lives. We don't take these sacrifices lightly and we will not allow them to be in vain. The new Iraq will be based on the rule of law and democratic principles."

Many refer to areas such as Khanaqin, which is overwhelmingly Kurdish, in the Diyala province, and Kirkuk in Tamim province as 'disputed territories' in reference to the still unresolved matter of how they will be incorporated into the new federal structure of Iraq. Most citizens in these areas would like to see them join the Kurdistan Regional Government, an option promised to them by Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution which guarantees the Iraqi people electoral power to determine the final status of their communities within the new administration. However referring to these areas as 'disputed' is historically misleading, as Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani pointed out last week that even under Saddam Hussein areas like Khanaqin were not in fact disputed, but were to be incorporated into the Kurdistan Region once a final deal was brokered over Kirkuk.

The last electoral results in the areas of Diyala referred to in these statements reflect a strong political affiliation with the Kurdish Alliance List, which is the governing coalition in charge of running the Kurdistan Regional Government. In Khanaqin alone, 99% of the electorate in the most recent polls held in 2005 voted for Kurdish political parties. This data can be used to surmise the sympathies of the local population.

For interviews or comments related to this press release, please contact:
Karim Zibari
Tel: 00964 750 4985500
Fax: 0044 207 900 2888
Email: diwan(at)krp.org
http://www.krp.org

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Karim Zibari
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