Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Macron offers mediation between Baghdad and Kurds

The French president expresses readiness to help in easing tension between Baghdad and Kurds over secession referendum.

Haider al-Abadi, Macron

French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron has offered to mediate between Iraq and the country's Kurdistan region, following Erbil's referendum decision to split from the rest of the country.

Speaking at a press conference in Paris with his Iraqi counterpart, Haider al-Abadi, Macron said his country was committed to the stability of Iraq. 

“France is ready to contribute actively to the UN’s mediation efforts, if Iraqi authorities so wish,” Macron said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi prime minister said "separatism is unacceptable" following last month's unbinding referendum.

“We don’t want armed confrontation, we don’t want clashes but federal authority must prevail,” Abadi said.

Last month’s referendum saw 92.7 percent of the registered Iraqi Kurd voters backing to split from Baghdad. But the referendum result has been met with resistance by the Iraqi state and several other regional powers, including Turkey and Iran.

READ MORE: Iraq parliament rejects Kurdish independence referendum

Abadi called on Iraqi and Kurdish forces to work together to avoid conflict following the referendum outcome.

“Iraq belongs to all Iraqis,” Abadi said.

Prior to the vote, Iraq’s parliament passed a resolution which deemed the vote a “threat to...the civil peace and regional security” and authorised Abadi to take any necessary measures to maintain Iraqi borders.

The semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq is home to 2.5 million people. It is governed by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), led by President Masoud Barzani.

Iraq’s constitution recognises the KRG as the official authority of the provinces of Duhok, Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Halabja. It has its own parliament, military forces and budget, which is allocated by the Iraqi government.

The debate for regional independence has been ongoing in Iraq for decades, with Kurds launching rebellions against successive British and Iraqi governments.

While in Paris, Abadi also announced that government forces had retaken the northern town of Hawija, one of the final Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) strongholds in Iraq, calling it a “victory not just of Iraq but of the whole world.”

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