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  • Iraqi Kurdistan's regional president Massud Barzani (R) attending an assembly with vice president Kosrat Rasul (L)

    Iraqi Kurdistan's regional president Massud Barzani (R) attending an assembly with vice president Kosrat Rasul (L) | Photo: AFP

Published 20 October 2017

An Iraqi court has issued an arrest warrant for the Vice President of Iraqi Kurdistan for "occupying" territories and "insulting" the Armed Forces.

An Iraqi court ordered the arrest of Iraqi Kurdistan Vice President Kosrat Rasul, accusing him of "occupying" the disputed territory in Kirkuk province, which was recently recovered by the Iraqi Army, and of "insulting" the Armed Forces, which is prohibited by law in Iraq.

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"The Al-Rusafa Trial Court issued an arrest warrant against Kosrat Rasul for his recent statements in which he considered that the Army and Federal Police forces present in Kirkuk province are occupying forces,"the spokesperson for the Court Abdelsatar Birqadar said in a statement.

The spokesman added in a statement that the Iraqi court considers such statements to be "offensive and inciting against the Armed Forces."

Rasul is the fourth Kurdish official to be issued a warrant by the Iraqi courts, although these warrants are unlikely to be served, as the central government has not yet reestablished control over Iraqi Kurdistan, a region that is seeking to become independent from the Arab country.

The other three arrest warrants were issued against the organizers of the Kurdistan separatist referendum.

Tensions rose between the government of Iraq and Kurdistan after Kurdish officials held an independence referendum, despite the central government, neighboring countries and much of the international community disagreeing with the decision.

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In order to preserve the country's territorial integrity, Iraqi government forces recovered strategic locations in the city of Kirkuk (rich in oil resources) from the Kurdish forces (Peshmerga), which withdrew without provoking any serious confrontation.

The Peshmerga initially took control of the Kirkuk region, which extends well past historical Kurdish territorial claims, after participating in the liberation of the city from the hands of the Islamic State group, who occupied the province in 2014.

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