Military presence on Syrian borders worries Iraqi Kurdistan
Sunday, 29 July 2012 08:34 GMT
Members of the Iraqi army
Baghdad - Jaafar NassrawiA political crisis between Iraq's central government and authorities in the autonomous region of Kurdistan looms on the back of Kurdistan's refusal to allow the deployment of Iraqi army troops on the borders between Iraq and Syria.
The Kurdistan government declared a few days ago that Kurdish troops deployed in the regions of Khabour and Zamar, located close to the Syrian borders, were attacked by forces belonging to the Iraqi army. The Kurdish government said its troops prevented the Iraqi army from pushing forward into the two regions.
The Iraqi defence ministry quickly responded with a statement issued on Saturday by the Iraqi army command, in which it stressed that the deployment of its forces was not meant to be against the Kurdish government, but only to protect the country's borders with Syria amid the deteriorating security conditions witnessed in Iraq's neighbouring state.
It called on Kurdistan's government, led by President Massoud Barzani, to respect the country's legal and constitutional terms in that regard.
"Assessing the security situation on Iraq's borders depends on the views held by the army's general command and the National Council of Defence, both of whom have decided that Iraq's borders with Syria are in need for more back-up procedures," the military leadership said in the statement.
"The Kurdish government's rejection of the presence of army forces on the border with Syria is not reasonable as the borders are not included within the areas subject to Kurdistan's autonomous authority. The Kurdish troops' conduct is considered a violation against the law and the constitution, and it could lead to a conflict between those troops and the Iraqi army," the statement added.
For his part, MP Yassin Majeed from the State of Law coalition, led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his Islamic Dawa Party, said that the Kurdish government's decision to prevent the army from entering the disputed area inside the region was "dangerous".
He added in a press conference on Saturday: "The deployment of these forces is legally directed towards protecting the security of Iraq."
Military training camps were established three months ago in Iraq's Kurdistan for Syrian Kurdish fighters who fled Syria. The camps are believed to be helping fighters prepare to return to Syria in order to join the military opposition against the Syrian regime.
"What is the legal justification for the presence of such camps in Kurdistan, and who is funding those camps," Majeed said in the press conference.
"If those fighters are to be sent back to Syria, it will considered as a blatant interference in the other state's affairs, and this could enable neighbouring countries to send fighters to the Iraqi territories," he added.
Over 17,000 people are believed to have died in the Syrian conflict, ever since a pro-democracy uprising faced a violent crackdown from President Bashar al-Assad's government 16 months ago.
The number of the Iraqi refugees in Syria who returned to Iraq has surpassed 10,500, while more than 2000 Syrian refuges have entered Iraq, the assistant secretary-general of the Iraqi Red Crescent, Mohammed al-Khozaei said to Arabstoday.
Khozaei that the Iraqi Red Crescent has established a new camp for Syrian refugees in the border regions of Rabeia. The camp has enough capacity for 600 persons. He added that the Red Crescent is working on establishing more facilities for Syrian refugees who are expected to increase in the coming few weeks.