Iraqi Kurd leader warns Baghdad of 'unexpected' response

The head of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, accused Iraq's federal government of oppressing Kurdish identity by cutting federal funding for civil servants

Iraqi Kurd leader warns Baghdad of 'unexpected' response

World Bulletin / News Desk

Massoud Barzani, head of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), criticized Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, on Thursday over disputes over crude oil exports and federal budget allocations.

"We do not want to threaten anyone, but if Iraqi government keeps on acting as they do, they will receive a response that they never expect," said Barzani, during a ceremony for victims of the 1993 Enfal operation, where former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's forces executed thousands of Kurds.

Iraq's federal government blocked the sale of Kurdish crude oil, which is transferred to Turkey via pipelines, claiming that independent sale of Iraqi oil is against Iraq's constitution. Tensions increased after federal government cut the funding of civil servants working for the Kurdish regional government from the federal budget.

"A prime minister and commander-in-chief [Nouri al-Maliki] must act responsibly and honestly," said Barzani. "Democracy, federalism and respect for diversity is not going forward but back, there is no reason to live together in Iraq anymore."

Barzani stressed that his concerns are not simply about oil or budgets but about the protection of the Kurdish identity.

"We won't negotiate [on funding] with Baghdad anymore", said Barzani. "Kurdish people will not accept to be governed by oppression and tyranny. We want Iraq to be governed collectively."

Kurdish authorities to upgrade Halabja

Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government is to grant governorate status to Halabja, the Kurdish town attacked with chemical weapons by former ruler Saddam Hussein in 1988.

KRG head, Massoud Barzani, gave the order on Thursday ahead of the central government.

"Kurdistan should rapidly prepare a draft to upgrade Halabja to governorate status," said Barzani.

Halabja, which has 300,000 inhabitants, has recently seen demonstrations calling for governorate status.

The chemical attack took place on March 16, 1988 and killed an estimated 5,000 people.

Last Mod: 07 Mart 2014, 09:31
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