Iraqi Kurdish and Turkmen leaders on Friday met in Baghdad to discuss regional issues. including the future of Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province.
The meeting was attended by Masoud Barzani. former president of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). and Arshad Salihi. leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front.
Following the closed-door meeting. Salihi told Anadolu Agency that attendees had discussed proposals to redeploy Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk for the first time since late 2017. when Iraqi federal forces assumed control of the province.
“Barzani said they [the KRG] have no intention of sending Peshmerga back to Kirkuk.“ Salihi said.
In regards to means of ensuring security in the province. the Turkmen leader said: “Both sides want to maintain security in Kirkuk through the use of a joint security force with a province-wide mandate.“
According to Salihi. both Kurdish and Turkmen leaders agree that Kirkuk should not be governed by any particular group or party.
Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Kirkuk has remained the subject of dispute between the central government in Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG.
Peshmerga forces loyal to the KRG took control of Kirkuk after the Iraqi army fled before the Daesh terrorist group’s onslaught in mid-2014.
But after the KRG held an illegitimate referendum on independence from Baghdad late last year. Iraqi federal troops moved back into the province while Peshmerga forces withdrew from the area.