Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi received an "open support" message from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered by the leader of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qasim Soleimani. Abadi was praised for his "valuable efforts and outstanding performance in managing the crisis between Baghdad and Erbil," according to information obtained by Al-Akhbar, which confirms that the Iranian general, who arrived in the Iraqi capital recently, expressed his country's support for the government of Abadi and commended his "long breath in managing the crisis".
The "hot" message carried by Soleimani implies that Tehran is ready to provide the required support, which Baghdad needs in the context of the current crisis. It also expresses Iranian willingness to provide political cover - in coordination with Turkey - for any step considered appropriate by the federal government in dealing the "stubbornness" of Erbil.
The message is not confined to confronting the repercussions of the referendum on Iraq and its surroundings. In some respects, it addresses Iran's standing by Abadi and "its support which is not limited to the repercussions of the referendum alone, but rather affects its political future." According to observers, Soleimani's message "was not the first and will not be the last", especially that in most of his meetings with Abadi, the Iranian General confirms that his country "supports the Iraqi government". But the timing of the last message and its content bear important implications, especially that the coming days will not be easy on the Iraqi prime minister who is expected to issue a series of key stance that will shape his political future.
Abadi, who enjoys international, Iraqi, and regional support in his managing of the crisis with Erbil, and who has so far succeeded in "adjusting its rhythm" - according to a number of observers - will face a difficult situation in the coming days, especially if he retracts from launching the "limited" and anticipated military operation to recover the federal government's oil wells and vital facilities in the province of Kirkuk. Speculation over the Premier backtracking on an armed confrontation comes in light of the opposition to the move by some parties and forces that are trying to "press the break" on Baghdad moving to the stage of a "field" confrontation with Erbil, for several reasons.
According to a military source, the coming days will witness a government announcement regarding the launching of a military operation in Kirkuk, with the joint participation of the Iraqi security forces and the Popular Mobilization Units (of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi). The source confirmed that the campaign will be accompanied by a tight closure of land outlets between Iraq, Turkey and Iran and the (autonomous Kurdish) region so that "addressing the set objectives is done in a localized manner, and to avoid as far as possible direct confrontation with the Peshmerga militants."
The military mobilization and deployment of troops, which began two days ago in the vicinity of the disputed areas in Kirkuk province, specifically in its southwestern regions and around the town of Tuzkurmato, were met with the closure of roads linking the Kurdistan Region with the city of Mosul by the Peshmerga as "a precautionary measure to prevent any threat to the region". But Erbil returned and opened these roads, yesterday afternoon, without giving any reasons.
The Peshmerga closed the main roads linking Dohuk and Erbil to Mosul after the "Kurdistan Regional Security Council" tweeted that the "Iraqi forces, the popular mobilization units and the federal police are preparing to launch an offensive on areas controlled by the Peshmerga forces." But the spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister, Saad al-Hadithi, stressed that "the Iraqi government has no intention of attacking the region." As for Abadi, he clarified that "the Iraqi army will not be used against the people. We will not fight a war against our Kurdish citizens and others. Returning to square one and the return of sectarian and divisional discourse will not be allowed." He pointed out during an expanded meeting to consolidate stability in Anbar province that "our duty is to preserve the unity of the country, apply the constitution, and protect the citizens and the national wealth".
Source: Al-Akhbar Newspaper, Translated by website team