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Abadi Calls for Calm in Kurdistan After Barzani Resignation

31 October 2017

The statement appeared to reflect a US belief that the departure of Barzani, whose September 25 independence referendum is widely seen has having backfired, may make it easier for the two main Kurdish factions to work together and to negotiate with the federal government led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Yet it is unclear if Sunday was the final curtain for Barzani, an ardent Kurdish nationalist since the age of 16 who took up the mantle of his father, the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani, after his death in 1979.

Dozens of Barzani's supporters broke into the building and attacked lawmakers and journalists, while a crowd outside waved Kurdish flags in support of him.

Barzani's request, which was approved by the regional parliament late Sunday, was to distribute his presidential powers among the Kurdish prime minister, the Kurdish parliament and the judiciary. The Kurdish forces lost almost half of the territory that had controlled during the war against the Islamic State group.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is calling for calm and respect for the law after Barzani's announcement.

"President Barzani is a historic figure and courageous leader of his people. We were a state within a state", said Kamal Chomani, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, in a phone interview Sunday.

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The referendum, which garnered a 92.7% vote in favor of separation, was meant to advance the prospects of Kurdistan, the long-held dream of an independent Kurdish state on territories covering segments of northern Iraq.

Mr Barzani also accused leaders of the PUK, whose founder Jalal Talabani died days after the referendum, of being guilty of "high treason on 16 October".

Iran has its own sizable Kurdish minority and has opposed independence for Iraqi Kurds.

While the referendum passed, it resulted in tumult and triggered swift military and economic retaliation by Iraq's central government in Baghdad.

Despite warnings from Baghdad, the United States, Turkey, Iran, the United Nations and others, the vote was held on September 25 in the three provinces that make up the autonomous Kurdish zone as well as in disputed territories claimed by Baghdad, but at the time held by Kurdish forces.

"Barzani is saying he doesn't want the presidency to exist anymore, and to create a new constitutional arrangement in a few days - that's actually a lot of work", Ali said in a phone interview.

Abadi Calls for Calm in Kurdistan After Barzani Resignation