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Kurdistan Sees US Presence in Iraq Vital: President

The Kurdistan Region believes that the presence of the US and Coalition forces is vital to continue the battle against the Islamic State (IS) and to prevent the terrorist group from resurgence, said Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan, according to "BasNews".

In an interview with al-Monitor, Barzani explained that Erbil does not agree with a previous resolution the Shia majority blocs at the Iraqi parliament passed to ask the government for expelling the US and other foreign forces, noting that the move was unilateral without taking into consideration the opinion of the Kurds and the Sunni Arabs.

“Our view is that the decision taken by the Iraqi parliament was not a good one and the Kurds and the Sunnis did not take part in that decision. Moreover, it set a bad precedent. The decision was taken by the Shia bloc without consulting either of the key components of this country, the Kurds or the Sunni [Arabs]. It was a very critical step that was taken without seeking consensus and as such violates the spirit of the Iraqi Constitution. This is not good for Iraq, either now or in the future,” Barzani told al-Monitor.

The Kurdish president pointed out that the decision against the US presence in Iraq was made in an emotional situation in the wake of the killing of Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani and Iraq’s Shia militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by US in Baghdad while Washington did not coordinate the operation with the Iraqis.

Concerning Iran’s retaliatory missile strike on 8th January when it targeted the US military bases in Anbar and Erbil, and Tehran’s pressure on Baghdad to stand against Washington in the complicated situation, Kurdistan Region President said: “The Iraqi leadership has to hold the interests, the security and the stability of the country, of the Iraqi people, above all. The launching of the missiles was a very clear message to everybody that Iran has the will and the capacity to strike inside any part of Iraq.”
“In Kurdistan we do not wish Iraq to become a battleground where Iran and the United States settle their scores. Iraq’s relations with the United States are very important. But Iran is our longstanding neighbor. Since assuming office Prime Minister Mahdi has set out to avoid being dragged into the conflict between Iran and the United States,” Barzani added about the position of Kurdistan Region in the issue, noting that Kurdistan is not scared of Iran, but it respects Iran.