The Iraqi Joint Operations Command accused the Kurds of walking out on talks over setting the demarcation line between the central and regional governments and control over border crossings. Prime Minister Haidar Abadi stated that the federal forces should have authority over every part of the country and control the borders. Kurdish officials on the other hand, accused Baghdad of being provocative. The breakdown led to warnings from the two sides that they were ready to return to arms if necessary. The Kurds are still hoping for more talks with news that Kurdistan Premier Nechirvan Barzani would be heading to Baghdad soon. This was a turn for the worse as just a few days before Irbil and Baghdad had seemingly come to an agreement over the disputed areas and border points.
On October 27, the Iraqi forces and Peshmerga were ready for another round of fighting for Fishkhabur, the point where the Kurdish pipeline crosses into Turkey before an informal ceasefire was announced leading to a series of negotiations. Before that, the Iraqi forces gave the Kurds a few hours to retreat from the border crossing or face another attack. An unofficial truce was then announced. On October 29, a Kurdish official said that they were willing to allow the government to occupy the Makhmour district in western Ninewa and have a presence at Fishkhabur. The next day it was reported that the federal forces would enter all the disputed areas of Ninewa, while at Fishkhabur there would be the Peshmerga, border guards, and government units. There was also a larger agreement that the Kurds would fall back to their 2003 border. On October 31, there was a sign this was being implemented when Baghdad set up its own checkpoint at the Harbur border crossing with Turkey in between Kurdish and Turkish ones. If progress was being made both in talks and on the ground, it is unclear how things suddenly broke down. Baghdad claimed that the Kurds were playing for time. That may be true as PM Barzani has assumed leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) after his uncle President Masoud Barzani stepped down, and may have wanted to formulate his own policy. The U.S. is also actively pushing for dialogue over another round of fighting. The problem is Baghdad has the initiative and could resort back to force to take Fishkhabur. Therefore, the KRG may have no time to play for.
Agence France Presse, “Iraq sets deadline for Kurds to quit Turkey border posts,” 10/27/17
Al Alam, “The end of the meeting of the federal military leaders with leaders of the Peshmerga, and this is the result,” 10/28/17
Al Baghdadiya News, “Security official: Peshmerga will return to the borders of 2003,” 10/28/17
Al Ghad Press, “Al Ghad Press Sources There is no ceasefire agreement between the security forces and the Kurds, but the truce continues,” 10/27/17
Irakna News Portal, “Sources: Extension of the truce between Erbil and Baghdad until reaching an agreement,” 10/29/17
Iraq Newspaper, “Iraq: Agreement Between Baghdad And Irbil On The Deployment Of Forces In Mahmudiya, Shiekhan, Sahila, Qush, Khazir, Faida, Quwir,” 10/30/17
Al Mada, “Nechirvan Barzani will be in Baghdad soon to launch a dialogue with the government,” 11/1/17
- “The truce with the Peshmerga and the differences over the border on the Blue Line,” 10/29/17
NINA, “Urgent…Peshmerga withdraw From Makhmour District Southeast of Mosul,” 10/28/17
Rasheed, Ahmed, Gurses, Ercan, Jalabi, Raya, “Iraqi authorities gain first foothold at Kurdish frontier with Turkey,” Reuters, 10/31/17
Rudaw, “Iraqi army says talks with Peshmerg failed,” 11/1/17
- “Peshmerga, Iraqi army reach deal on Fish Khabur,” 10/29/17
Tahir, Rawaz, Kullab, Samya, Hussein, Mohammed, Van Heuvelen, Ben, “Federal forces launch offensive for Fayshkabour,” Iraq Oil Report, 10/27/17