Erbil-Kurdish officials expressed reservations at Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s calls for the Peshmerga to stop its progress in the Nineveh province amid accusations that the Kurdish forces are attempting to seize land with the objective of declaring their independent state under the pretext of defeating ISIS.
“The Peshmerga should stay where they are now, and they should not expand their presence even if they help the Iraqi Army,” Abadi said Wednesday.
Kurdish Government Spokesman Safeen Dizayee quickly rejected Abadi’s call.
“The Peshmerga will continue their advance and will not retreat from the areas they have recently liberated from ISIS in Mosul,” Dizayee told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
“Instead of congratulating the Peshmerga forces on their big victories against ISIS and offering them help, the federal government in Baghdad is now asking the Peshmerga to stop their advance and withdraw from the liberated areas,” he said.
Dizayee asked: “What would the substitute be if Peshmerga forces withdrew from those areas? Is the Iraqi army ready to protect the areas? Where was the army when ISIS occupied them in the first place?”
He stressed that the presence of these forces in the liberated areas leads to stability and security given that the Kurdish people reject sectarianism and confessional and ethnic violence.
“Peshmerga forces were able to protect humanity at its best.”
Dizayee insisted that “the Peshmerga will not stop their advance until all Kurdistan territories in the Nineveh region are liberated.”
He said that the “Peshmerga will not even withdraw from areas they are going to liberate in the future.”
“It is not logical for Peshmerga forces to wait for Baghdad to come up with a plan to liberate these areas or even to mobilize its forces, and it is illogical for Peshmerga forces to stand idle at a time when they are able to attack ISIS … and even liberate areas from this terrorist organization,” he added in his remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat.
On Thursday, Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri praised the Peshmerga’s efforts against ISIS.
“The Peshmerga participation in the Mosul battle is an added value and should be appreciated,” Jabouri said in a statement.