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Kurdistan’s President Masoud Barzani announced his resignation three days before the end of his term in office, with violence erupting against the autonomous region’s parliament, according to tweets from Erbil. A number of protesters stormed the parliament in Erbil while the legislators voted for distributing the presidential powers of Barzani among several agencies.
Barzani said he remained committed to the Kurdish independence cause, adding he was confident that the nation will one day attain independence. The news comes after an Iraqi army offensive in the region that led to the takeover of Kirkuk, the center of northern Iraq’s oil industry and a city that the Kurds had control over outside the borders of the autonomous region. The Iraqi troops also took control of surrounding oil fields.
The now former President noted in his speech that the Iraqi offensive would have happened even without the referendum. “Even if the referendum wasn’t held, there was a plan to attack Kurdistani areas and destabilize the situation in the Kurdistan Region. The culture in Baghdad hasn’t changed.”
Meanwhile, Iraq’s PM, Haider al-Abadi, called for calm amid the violent clashes in Erbil that also included attacks against party offices and journalists. A statement from the PM’s office said, “We are closely watching developments in Kurdistan Region and the assaults on political parties’ offices and media workers, as well as attempts to induce chaos and turmoil in Erbil and Dohuk. That is something that harms our citizens in the region and the general situation.”
Kirkuk’s former governor stoked the fire by saying in an interview with CNN that there will be an independent Kurdistan sooner than many believe. Without elaborating any further, Najmaldin Karim acknowledged that it had been clear from the beginning that the referendum would be “no picnic”, adding that regional and international powers had reacted abnormally by opposing the Kurds’ independence drive, after together fighting against Islamic State.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.