BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi warned on Monday there could be a “civil war” over the Kurdish-administered city of Kirkuk if talks over Kurdish independence are left unresolved.
Allawi, in an interview with The Associated Press, urged Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, as well as Iraq’s central government and its Iranian-backed militia forces, to show restraint and resolve their disputes over the oil-rich city.
The head of the Asaib al-Haq militia Qais Khazali warned worshippers in a sermon Sunday that Iraq’s Kurds were planning to claim much of north Iraq, including Kirkuk, for an independent state, after Iraq’s Kurds voted for independence in a controversial but non-binding referendum two weeks ago.
He said it would be tantamount to a “foreign occupation,” according to remarks reported by the Afaq TV channel, which is close to the state-sanctioned militia.
Allawi, a former prime minister, said any move by the country’s Popular Mobilization Front militias, which include the Asaib al-Haq, to enter Kirkuk would “damage all possibilities for unifying Iraq” and open the door to “violent conflict.”
“The government claims they control the Popular Mobilization Forces. If they do they should restrain them, rather than go into a kind of civil war. And there should be a restraint on Masoud Barzani and the peshmerga not to take aggressive measures to control these lands,” said Allawi.