Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraq’s military command has expressed readiness to defend people in the autonomous Kurdistan Region as it was ravaged by anti-government protests.
Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the Joint Operations Command, was quoted by Almaalomah website saying a televised interview that the command “is ready to protect our people in Kurdistan if directives from the general commander of the armed forces, Haider al-Abadi, are given in that regard”.
“Security forces are anxious to protect Iraqi bloods, and the Prime Minister continues to manage the crisis with wisdom,” Rasoul
Thousands of Iraqi Kurds staged protests on Monday to decry delay of salaries and lack of services in parts of the region.
Demonstrators reportedly torched the offices of ruling and opposition political parties, while police responded with tear gas.
The Kurdistan government released a statement defending the right to protest but warned against destruction of property. Its security council, meanwhile, expressed concerns of military activity by the central government near one of the region’s areas.
The Baghdad-based Iraqi government had vowed to send salaries of Kurdish public employees following a political crisis and a later military standoff that resulted from the referendum the autonomous Kudistan region held in September for secession from Iraq.
The Iraqi government had adopted penal measures against the Kurdish authorities following the poll, including a ban on financial transactions.
The issues of employees payments and the region’s share in the national budget had always been a subject of dispute between both governments.
Iraqi forces had faced off with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in October and took over areas disputed by Baghdad and Erbil, mostly without resistance.