The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced in a statement that it would suspend its recent move towards independence by freezing its independence referendum. The statement also demanded an immediate ceasefire in Kirkuk between Kurdish and Iraqi forces "in order to prevent further violence and clashes."
Baghdad has said in the past that the September 25 independence referendum launched by the KRG was unconstitutional. In response, Iraqi courts have issued arrest warrants for top Kurdish officials who played a rule in organizing the referendum, including Kurdish President Masoud Barzani.
Neighboring countries, Turkey and Iran, both condemned the referendum on the grounds that it would destabilize an already shaky Middle East. A significant part of the international community also showed disapproval for the referendum, including the United States, who claimed that the referendum was distracting from the batle against the Islamic State group in Iraq.
The KRG’s statement called on open dialogue between the KRG and Iraqi government based on the foundation of the Iraqi constitution.
"Continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos," the statement adds.
Before this latest development, the Iraqi Kurdish parliament announced that presidential and parliamentary elections would be suspended for 8 months due to the ongoing military and diplomatic standoff with Baghdad.
Last week, political turmoil swept Iraqi Kurdistan when Iraqi security forces seized the contested city of Erbil which is inhabited by Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, and other significant minority groups. The area is rich in oil, which made it a strategic point for both Baghdad and the KRG.
Kurdish opposition parties, many of whom disagreed with the launching of an independence referendum, have accused the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Barzani of being corrupt and behind the political turmoil in Iraq. The main opposition party to the KDP, Gorran, issued a statement demanding the resignation of Barzani.