Iraqi Kurdistan threatens to declare independence


Massoud Barzani, president of the autonomous northern Kurdistan region in Iraq. Photo: AFP
March 22, 2012

, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The President of the autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani has threatened to declare independence from the central government in Baghdad, Iranian press TV reported.

Speaking in the region’s capital of Erbil on Tuesday, the president of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said the partnership that had built the national unity government in the country was now “completely non-existent and has become meaningless," AFP reported.

He also said that the oil-rich Kirkuk had to be incorporated into a future independent Kurdistan.

Diplomats regard the dispute as one of the greatest threats to Iraq's long-term stability.

Barzani's threat comes amid strained relations between him and the central government since he gave sanctuary to the fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi in December.

Hashemi is wanted in Baghdad for alleged involvement in terror activities. The Kurdistan region has defied calls to hand him over to Baghdad for trial.