Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday said that his government would not use military power against the Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan over a recent independence vote.
Al-Abadi’s remark came a day after Iraqi Kurdistan warned of a major attack by the central government in Baghdad on the northern territory amid escalating tensions between both sides.
“We will not use our army against our people or wage a war against our Kurdish people,” al-Abadi said in a statement.
He, however, pledged to preserve the country’s unity and apply the constitution.
Baghdad had condemned Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum held on Sept. 25, saying it was unconstitutional.
The Iraqi federal government and Kurdistan had been at loggerheads over the vote in which an overwhelming majority of 92 per cent supported independence.
Afterwards, Baghdad imposed a ban on international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan’s airports, saying flights would resume if the central government assumed control of the territory’s airports.
The vote alarmed neighbouring Turkey, Iran and Syria, all of which were concerned that it could encourage Kurdish minorities to split.
The U.S and other countries also fear that the fallout from Iraqi Kurdistan’s vote could distract attention from ongoing campaigns against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Kurdistan’s military Peshmerga forces have played a key role in Iraq’s U.S-backed drive against the extremist militants.
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