Kurdish opponents of Barzani report attacks on offices

Iraqi Christians pray in a church. File

The United States now looks forward to engaging actively with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani.

In a letter read out on his behalf during the regional government's parliamentary session on Sunday, Barzani said he would not contest the upcoming regional presidential election due on November 1.

The State Department saluted the "strong leadership" of Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose US-armed and trained forces have pushed back Barzani's US-backed Peshmerga fighters.

As the Kurdish regional parliament was discussing Barzani's request to have his powers dissolved, dozens of his supporters rioted outside, apparently angry over the developments and trying to express their support for him.

Iran has its own sizable Kurdish minority and has opposed independence for Iraqi Kurds. The Kurdish forces lost almost half of the territory that had controlled during the war against the Islamic State group.

Also on Monday, Iran said it would reopen all of its border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan region in the coming days, lifting restrictions imposed after the independence referendum.

Kirkuk was among territory seized by Kurdish forces when the Iraqi military abandoned the city in the face of Daesh advances in 2015 even though it was not within the borders of the KRG's autonomous territory. He also lambasted rival Kurdish political parties and said they were guilty of "treason", referring to Patriotic Union of Kurdistan which had allegedly struck a deal with Baghdad to withdraw Kurdish forces from the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, retaken by Iraqi forces earlier this month.

Kurdish president Masoud Barzani gives a televised speech in Erbil, announcing his intention to step down, on October 29, 2017.

Mr. Barzani, himself a former guerrilla leader, has run the KRG since 2005, presiding with a firm hand as the region prospered while the rest of Iraq struggled in civil war.



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