As the internal political crisis hit the top in Iraq, new showdowns appear also with the effect of foreign politics. With a sudden decision taken by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, two troops under the 10th Brigade of the Iraqi army, deployed in Nasiriyah, went from the Syrian border region on the northwest of Iraq to Pishabur on 27 July 2012 Friday, they settled here and they confronted the peshmerga forces, affiliated to Kurdish Regional Government, in the region. Pishbur, which is located in sub-district of Zummar that is under the administration of Tel Afar in Mosul, was brought under the control of Kurdish Regional Government as a result of the intervention of the Kurdish groups after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003; and therefore the area is included in the disputed territories. The Kurdish Regional Government argues that the sub-district of Zummar is under the administration of Duhok province, which is in the control of the government. It is seen that the Kurdish Regional Government and the Iraqi central government confront one another on this issue from time to time. One of the most important examples on this subject is the situation that took place in Khanaqin and Jalula in 2008. Even armed conflict took place between the two parties in the area. Similarly the confrontation in Pishabur also reached the level of conflict. Nevertheless, currently it seems that the tension is on the decline as both parties moderated their attitudes for the time being. While Nouri al-Maliki indicated in his statement on the aforesaid issue that the military troops sent to Pishabur did not target the Kurdish Regional Government but they tried to prevent illegal and armed border crossing from Syria and to protect the border; in the statement made right afterwards, the leader of Kurdish Regional Government Massoud Barzani stated on the withdrawal of vote of confidence from Maliki that he actually wanted reform, and that he did not demand the withdrawal of vote of confidence from Maliki. However, this situation leading to confrontation between the two parties brought up the main problems in Iraq to the agenda again.
First of all, the severity of the question of “disputed territories”, which is one of the most important objects at issue in Iraq and which might determine the future of Iraq, once more came to the forefront with the recent development. The issue of disputed areas in Iraq stems from the efforts of Kurdish Regional Government to expand its borders and its influence area. The borders of Kurdish Regional Government is stated in the Iraqi Constitution. However, the de facto control area of the Kurdish Regional Government stays out of this border.
The memorandum, which was signed on 17 May 2003 between the U.S., KDP and PUK on the “Redeployment of the Peshmerga Forces”, and which enabled the peshmerga forces to go beyond the line defined as the “Green Line” indicating the borders of the regional government in Northern Iraq after 1991, is considered as the main reason of the dispute. According to this memorandum, it was agreed that 2545 PUK and 3443 KDP militants would be deployed in Mosul, Kirkuk, Salahaddin and Diyala “in order for peshmerga forces to help the U.S. troops fight against terrorists”. KDP and PUK forces, on the other hand, were deployed in the areas, which stay out of the borders of the regional government in the northern Iraq and over which Kurdish groups claim to have control, with the help of the U.S. As of today, the current borders of the Kurdish Regional Government is considered as the borders, where peshmergas deploy in Salahaddin, Mosul, Kirkuk and Diyala that are not under the control of KDP and PUK. It is observed that Kurdish Regional Government and central government confront each other in the aforesaid areas from time to time. And lastly during Maliki's visit to Kirkuk on May 2012, the fact that the troops of the Iraqi army going to the city along with Maliki stayed here led to confrontation between peshmergas and Iraqi army in Kirkuk. It is mentioned that Kurdish Regional Government is preparing to send two more peshmerga brigades to Kirkuk after the event taking place in Zummar. As it could be understood, the Kirkuk issue comes to the forefront again. It would not be wrong to suggest that the problem actually stems from peshmergas that entered in Kirkuk without authorization. As the presence of peshmergas in Kirkuk increases tension in the province, it also brings along the administrative rivalry between the Kurdish Regional Government and the central government. It could be suggested that this situation has negatively affected the security in Kirkuk. Especially the fact that acts of violence have been on the rise in Kirkuk for the last 3-4 months grabs the attention.
On the other hand, Nouri al-Maliki, who has been striving to keep and secure his seat in the central, is trying to reinforce the centralization. As certain steps are taken on the issues such as border controls, customs procedures, the settlements of security forces affiliated to the central government; the pressure on Kurdish Regional Government increases especially on the oil issue.
In addition to this, there is a major political difference between the Regional Government and the central government on Syria issue as well. While the central government has been supporting the Bashar Assad regime since March 2011 when the uprisings broke out in Syria, Kurdish Regional Government has been supporting the opponents of Bashar Assad and striving to unite Syrian Kurdish opposition together, in particular. In this respect, there is also a major gridlock in foreign policy between Kurdish Regional Government and central government.
In conclusion, the crisis between Kurdish Regional Government and central government is getting deeper with each passing day. This tension also increases the polarizations within the internal politics of Iraq. In the forthcoming process, this situation seems to define the parties especially in local elections planned to be held in 2013 and in general elections planned to be held in 2014.