Iraqi Troops and Peshmerga Forces On Verge of Confrontation South of Kirkuk

18/11/2012 0 RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—In response to the deployment of large numbers of Iraqi troops and Dijla Forces in Kirkuk, Kurdish military officials have dispatched thousands of Peshmerga forces to the province.

Halgurd Hikmat, the media officer of the ministry of Peshmerga has confirmed that the Minister of Peshmerga Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa and his deputy, Anwar Haji Osman, are meeting with Peshmerga forces in the area. “The Peshmerga are prepared to counter any movement by the Dijla Forces,” Hikmat said. Abu Karwan, a senior official from the Kurdistan Communist Party—expected to mediate between both sides—told Rudaw that no negotiations are happening at the moment and the possibility of military confrontation is very high.

Abu Karwan said that the Minister of Peshmerga is expected to meet with all Kurdish parties in the town of Duz.

On Friday Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi police came into clashes in Duz during which one person was killed and 7 others were wounded.

On Saturday an Iraqi military source told Rudaw on condition of anonymity that the Dijla Forces have deployed all the units of Iraq’s 12th division in the outskirts of Duz. The Communist Party’s Abu Karwan said, “A large number of Peshmerga forces with heavy weapons have been deployed in and around Duz.” The Dijla Force was formed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki with the aim of “eliminating the remnants of terrorism” in Diyala, Kirkuk and Salahaddin provinces. But the plan has become the source of much controversy, especially among Kurds who fear it is an attempt by the central government to take control of the disputed areas.

On Saturday, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani said that the tensions in Kirkuk are efforts to deteriorate the friendly relations between Kurds and Arabs.

He urged the Iraqi parties to work to prevent such efforts.

“In the meantime,” said President Barzani. “I ask the people of Kurdistan to be prepared for any unfortunate act, and work together to foil plans designed against the Kurds and the disputed territories.”The president also urged the Peshmerga forces to be more vigilant in the areas they are stationed at the moment. “I ask the Peshmerga forces to be patient in the face of provocations,” said the president. “I also urge them to be ready for any violation or act of enmity and I have asked the ministry of Peshmerga to take all necessary measures.”