By Amer al-Hassani
Iraqi Vice-President Ayad Allawi on Saturday called for an urgent meeting to resolve the ongoing crisis between Baghdad and Erbil following last month’s illegitimate Kurdish independence referendum.
"We take the opportunity today to emphasize the need to launch bilateral dialogues between Baghdad and Erbil by holding an urgent national meeting to set a clear roadmap for the future of the political process," Allawi said in a statement.
Allawi's call comes a day after military tension in the northern Kirkuk province between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and federal troops.
The central government on Friday began to deploy forces in the vicinity of Taza and Bashir villages, some 10 kilometers south Kirkuk city after the withdrawal of the Peshmerga forces in the night.
Also, Saladin province's Tuz Khormato district witnessed clashes late Friday between the Peshmerga forces and the pro-government Hashd al-Shaabi militia that caused injuries on both sides.
For his part, Kazem al-Shammari, head of the parliamentary bloc of Allawi’s Al-Watania Coalition, called on the Kurdish forces to withdraw to the pre-2014 borders.
"All military forces should withdraw to their borders before June 2014,” he said, calling for setting mechanisms and timelines for the pullout of Kurdish troops to help solve the conflict between Baghdad and Erbil.
Peshmerga forces seized control of the currently disputed areas, including Kirkuk, when the Iraqi army withdrew in mid-2014 against the Daesh terrorist group.
The Sept. 25 illegitimate referendum of the Kurdish region had faced strong opposition from most regional and international actors -- including the U.S., Turkey and Iran -- who warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.
Iraqi parliament has approved a set of measures against the Kurdish region, including deploying federal forces in disputed areas.