Tension escalates between Iraq, Kurdistan

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In further escalation of tension, Iraq and its semi-autonomous Kurdish region have reinforced military presence along their separation line.
Officials from both sides convened on Thursday to break the impasse, but little progress was made, Reuters reported.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Massoud Barzani met with the Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq (the Iraqi Parliament), Usama al-Nujayfi and promised to “open the door” to talks.

Recently, thousands of Peshmarga troops, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s security force, were dispatched to Kirkuk, one of the provinces claimed by both the KRG and the central government, following the deployment there of the Dijla Operations Command, which was formed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in June. The Peshmarga forces and the Iraqi police clashed in the province on Friday. One person was killed and seven others were wounded.

Maliki has told Kurdish troops to stay away from the government forces, deployed in the flashpoint town of Tuz Khurmatu, located 88 kilometers (close to 55 miles) south of the provincial capital Kirkuk, where the Peshmerga deployment also took place.

The Dijla aimed to eliminate terrorists in Kirkuk as well as in Diyala and Salahaddin, two other disputed provinces.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the federal government has the authority to establish and manage armed forces to guarantee the security of Iraq. But the constitution also requires the Iraqi parliament’s consent before military commands are formed. Maliki had not sought this consent.

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