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Clashes around parliament as Iraqi Kurdish leader steps down

01 November 2017

Tensions remain high between Iraqi federal forces and Kurdish fighters after Baghdad-led forces retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from Kurdish control earlier this month.

And the suspension of the presidency, said Zaid Ali, author of "The Struggle for Iraq's Future", has created an impossible task for Kurdish lawmakers.

"As a Peshmerga, I will continue to be at the service of our people". "We thought that the worldwide community would reward the peshmerga and the people of Kurdistan in return".

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Kurdish presidential elections that were due in November have been postponed indefinitely.

The referendum on support for independence held in September has since left the region increasingly isolated. Masoud Barzani held the referendum "for his own pride".

As Iraq's military crumbled in the face of Islamic State group advances in 2014, Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk.

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Though it could serve as a way to keep Barzani in power for an interim period, Ali continued, it could also lead to the fracturing of the Kurdish region along the fault lines of the two major Kurdish parties' spheres of control.

"Only their faces have changed", Barzani said repeatedly of Iraq's post-2003 central government in Baghdad while campaigning for the referendum. He became president of the region in 2005 after the 2003 US -led invasion of Iraq.

The US also welcomes the recent decision from Iraqi Prime Minister Gaider al-Abadi to begin a new dialogue with the KRG, she noted.

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As the Kurdish regional parliament was discussing Barzani's request to have his powers dissolved, dozens of his supporters rioted outside, apparently angry over the developments and trying to express their support for him. Suggesting that Barzani's departure may yield greater Kurdish unity and improve the odds of a resolution with Baghdad, a USA official said: "We can't allow this tension to continue".

Clashes around parliament as Iraqi Kurdish leader steps down