KRG president Barzani to step down

Khamenei asks Iraqi PM not to dissolve Iranian-backed Shia militia

A Kurdish official said Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, that Barzani, has informed parliament that he'll not stay in office as his term expires November 1 in the wake of a controversial vote on independence from Iraq.

Baqeri's announcement came a day after Iraqi Kurdish leader Masud Barzani said he was stepping down after the independence referendum he had championed triggered a regional backlash, including from Tehran.

The United States also welcomes the recent decision from Iraqi Prime Minister Gaider al-Abadi to begin a new dialogue with the KRG.

The losses were a major blow to the Kurds' aspirations for their own state and prompted Mr Barzani to declare on Sunday that he wanted his presidential powers to be distributed among the region's prime minister, parliament and judiciary.

As members of the parliament debated whether to approve Mr Barzani's request, men armed with sticks stormed the building in Irbil where they were meeting.

Doctors Without Borders said yesterday that fighting between Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters near the border threatens the delivery of humanitarian aid to half a million newly displaced civilians in northeastern Syria.

Abadi said he was following developments in the Kurdish area closely. President Barzani is a historic figure and courageous leader of his people, most recently in our common fight to destroy ISIS.

James Jeffery is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former diplomat.

The region's airspace was closed to global commercial flights, Turkey threatened the use of military force and both Tehran and Ankara threatened to close border crossings vital to the land-locked region. He told VOA that Barzani's move could ease concerns of the Baghdad government and of Turkey, Iran and other countries opposed to Kurdish independence.

Tensions have been running high between Baghdad and the region of Kurdistan after the Kurds held a controversial referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas.

Downcast, the long-time Kurdish leader blamed the central government in Baghdad for the regional crisis that followed the independence vote.

"Barzani is saying he doesn't want the presidency to exist anymore, and to create a new constitutional arrangement in a few days - that's actually a lot of work", Ali said in a phone interview.

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