Free Headline Alerts     
Worldwide Web


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kurds want U.S. forces to remain in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military is stepping up efforts to head off the risk of war between the Baghdad government and the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq as the U.S. withdraws its forces.   

Officials said senior U.S. officials have been urging both the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki as well as the Kurdish Regional Government in Irbil to reconcile, Middle East Newsline reported. KRG has asserted that Al Maliki was using the army to force Kurds out of Kirkuk, the oil capital of northern Iraq.

"An outbreak of violence between the peshmerga [Kurdish forces] and the Iraqi security forces would adversely impact the progress the country has made, and I told the Kurdish leaders that," U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said.

Also In This Edition

KRG has quietly asked the United States, which has helped develop oil infrastructure, to retain up to 50,000 troops in the autonomous Kurdish area, including Kirkuk.

"The Kurds like us and they don't want us to leave," Lucy Tamlyn, chief of the U.S.-led reconstruction team in Irbil, said. "We're working with the Kurds on goals they have set including essential services, rule of law issues and developing the private sector."

On April 26, Mullen toured Irbil in the highest-level U.S. visit to KRG in 2009. Officials said Mullen's visit reflected stepped-up U.S. efforts to defuse growing tension between military and security forces loyal to Al Maliki and KRG units.

"They know this must not be allowed to happen," Mullen said.

Over the last 18 months, Baghdad and KRG have been arguing over the authority of the Kurdish government. Irbil has been developing Kurdish security forces while signing contracts with Western companies to develop energy resources.

Officials said the tension between Baghdad and Irbil has focused on the future of Kirkuk. In 2009, Al Maliki security forces clashed with KRG units in Kirkuk as the Iraq Army began to dismiss Kurdish commanders.

The prospect of a conflict was expected to increase over the next year as the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq.

About Us     l    Contact Us     l     l
Copyright © 2009    East West Services, Inc.    All rights reserved.