Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani confirms intention to step down on November 1

Monday, 30 Oct, 2017

Iraqi Kurdish president Masoud Barzani speaks during a news conference in Erbil, Iraq September 24, 2017.

After Barzani announced his resignation protesters reportedly attempted to storm the building of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament in Erbil. Some MPs were barricaded in their offices on Sunday evening.

Barzani said he would "remain a peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) among the ranks of the people of Kurdistan and I will continue to defend the achievements of the people of Kurdistan".

"I ask parliament to meet to fill the vacancy in power, to fulfill the mission and to assume the powers of the presidency of Kurdistan", said the letter.

A plan to divide up the president's powers was outlined in a letter Barzani sent to the Kurdish parliament on Saturday, the official told Reuters.

Demonstrators, some carrying clubs and guns, stormed the parliament building as the session was in progress.

Barzani's current term was set to expire in four days, the same date that presidential and parliamentary elections were due to be held.

On Wednesday, the KRG - fearing more military escalation by Baghdad - offered to "suspend" the results of last month's illegitimate referendum, halt all military activity and enter into dialogue with the central government.

The independence referendum was conducted on September 20 despite central government's opposition.

In just a few hours, the city the Kurds regard as sacred was gone, along with other Kurdish-held territory across the north.

Barzani condemned the United States for failing to back the Kurds. He said American weapons were also used in attacks by Iranian-backed paramilitaries.

"Our people should now question, whether the USA was aware of Iraq's attack and why they did not prevent it".

The region lost almost half of the territory that had been comfortably under Kurdish control for years, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Barzani has led the KRG since it was established in 2005. His term had expired in 2013 which was extended twice.

"Nobody stood up with us other than our mountains", he said, speaking with Kurdish and Iraqi flags behind him. Taken together, the moves turned off "overnight more than half the Kurdish region's revenues and [left] it with little hand to play in negotiations", according to The Guardian.

Abadi said the talks are meant to prepare for the peaceful deployment of Iraqi troops at the border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Kirkuk was considered to be a key source of revenue for their would-be independent state.

While Iraq's Kurdish region participated in the drafting of the country's constitution after the overthrow of Saddam, relations between Baghdad and Irbil swiftly deteriorated in early 2014 under then Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.