Kurdistan referendum: Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani resigns as Iraqi protesters swarm parliament

Casey Dawson
October 31, 2017

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.

The United States also welcomes the recent decision from Iraqi Prime Minister Gaider al-Abadi to begin a new dialogue with the KRG.

"You should therefore meet at your earliest convenience to ensure there is no legal vacuum in the execution of the duties and powers of the president of the region", said Barzani in a letter he submitted to parliament before his address, according to a copy released online.

"Three million votes for Kurdistan independence created history and can not be erased", Mr Barzani said, bitterly accusing his political rivals of "treason" for giving up the contested oil-rich city of Kirkuk to central government troops in the fighting sparked by the 25 September vote.

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

Baqeri warned that if the Kurdish autonomous region seceded from Iraq "there would be bloodshed in Iraq and neighboring countries would be affected".

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Mr Abadi said on Monday the central government was closely monitoring the "attempts to create chaos and disorder" in Irbil and Dohuk.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is calling for calm and a respect for the law in the northern Kurdistan region, a day after its leader announced he was stepping down as president, Voice of America reports.

The region's airspace was closed to worldwide commercial flights, Turkey threatened the use of military force and both Tehran and Ankara threatened to close border crossings vital to the land-locked region.

At Baghdad's request, Tehran closed its borders with Iraq's Kurdish region and halted all flights to and from the region after the referendum. The development comes roughly six weeks after Iraqi Kurds voted on a controversial independence referendum that Mr. Barzani had championed.

While the Iraqi Kurds have mostly shown outward unity since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, they have a deep history of conflict between Mr Barzani's KDP and Talabani's Puk, which fought each other in a civil war in the 1990s. The PUK supported the vote half-heartedly.

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