Iraq's Kurds rule out retreating from Kirkuk
Massoud Barzani says ambition of incorporating city "achieved", amid growing calls for inclusive government in Baghdad.
Last updated: 28 Jun 2014 00:02
The president of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq has issued a defiant statement to the Iraqi government that there was no going back on autonomous Kurdish rule in the oil city Kirkuk.
Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, made the comments at a joint news conference in Erbil with visiting William Hague, British foreign secretary, on Friday.
"We waited for 10 years for Baghdad to solve Article 140," he said, referring to the constitutional item which was meant to address the Kurds' decades-old ambition to incorporate the territory in their autonomous region in the north over the objections of successive governments in Baghdad.
"Now its accomplished because the Iraqi army pulled out and our Peshmerga forces had to step in. So now the problem is solved. There will be more no more conversation about it."
Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Erbil, said Barzani's statement was expected to put more strain on the Baghdad government.
"The Kurds see themselves in a position of strength, and say the Iraqi government's pullout forced Peshmerga forces to fill the security vacuum," she said.
Kurdish forces stepped in when federal government forces withdrew in the face of a Sunni rebel offensive led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) earlier this month.
The Sunni rebels made the gains as Iraq's flagging security forces were swept aside by the initial insurgent push, pulling out of a swathe of ethnically divided areas.