The Iraqi government will not initiative an armed confrontation with the Kurdish government over the disputed Kurdish independence referendum that was held on September 25 with an overwhelming verdict for leaving Iraq, Iraq’s National Security Advisor said.
Falah Fayadh, speaking to the Arabic service of France 24 that was aired on Friday ruled out that Baghdad is preparing to enter an armed confrontation with Erbil, unless initiated by the Kurdish Peshmerga.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited France late last month after the vote at the invitation of the French President Emmanuel Macron.
At a joint press conference, Macron expressed his support for Iraq’s stability and territorial integrity. He said, however, that France and others were concerned about the situation in Kurdistan after the referendum, and stressed that dialogue is “the only path” going forward.
“France is ready… to contribute actively to mediation,” Macron said.
Fayadh said that “there is no French mediation,” in this regard, and that they welcome some role to be played by the UN mission in Iraq, but even that role is not that of mediation.
He said that Baghdad is in support of dialogue to resolve its differences with Erbil if the Kurdistan Region agreed to a “sound foundation” for the talks according to the Iraqi constitution.
“Every kind of talks in this regard is welcome, but it has to be in light of the constitution, and not in light of the referendum that the government does not recognize its legitimacy,” the Iraqi adviser said.
Fayadh, who is also the head of the board of the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces, stated that the Iraqi government is involved in efforts with its neighbours to take control of the land and air entry points between the Kurdistan Region and the outside world. He, however, ruled out that there will be a joint military operation between Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara to control the border crossings by force.
“The responsibility of the Iraqi government is to take all measures that will protect the unity of Iraq without resorting to a military operation,” Fayadh said, adding that the punitive measures taken by the Iraqi government, including the flight ban on international flights, is allowed under the Iraqi constitution.
Pressed whether Baghdad will eventually use the power of its armed forces against Erbil if the Kurdish government refused to give in to Baghdad demands, Fayadh said they will not be the first party to trigger a war.
“Iraq, or the federal government, will not initiate a military operation,” he said, while warning Erbil against using the military might to force their authority in the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both governments.
He repeated PM Abadi’s demands for a joint administration of the disputed areas such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk , provided that Baghdad will issue orders.
The Kurdish government and parliament have rejceted the entire Iraqi measures while describing them as “collective punishment,” and unconstitutional.
Asked whether he agrees with the view of Tehran that the United States and Israel are behind the Kurdish vote, Fayadh said that Washington has shown in words and actions that they are against the Kurdish referendum, and that they too consider it illegitimate.