Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani announced his resignation Sunday after the biggest gamble of his 12 years as president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) not only failed, but utterly backfired as territorial reversals reduced KRG power to its weakest position in decades.
The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq said it had ordered the local police forces, known as Asayish, to stop the attacks. Iraqi Kurds voted overwhemingly to break away from Iraq in the September referendum. Multiple worldwide reports characterized Barzani's speech as "bitter" and it further appears that violence erupted during or after his televised speech before parliament.
Armed protesters stormed parliament as it met on Sunday to approve his resignation.
The move prompted speculation on whether it was Barzani's exit from politics but his senior assistant, Hemin Hawrami, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Barzani "will stay in Kurdish politics and lead the high political council", though as of November 1, he will no longer be president of the region.
Following last month's independence referendum, Iraqi forces launched an offensive to retake areas contested between the Iraqi central government and the KRG and gained control over them without much resistance.
"The border restrictions between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan will be lifted in the coming days", the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Baqeri as saying on October 30.
The Iraqi military and the Kurdish minority had been clashing for several weeks in mostly low-level firefights until Friday, when they agreed to a cease-fire, and Kurdish forces abandoned the land they held, largely without resistance.
"We are closely following the latest developments in Iraq's Kurdish region", the statement read.
"This is an assault on freedom of press and expression", replied Erbil-based Kurdistan 24's management in a letter to the International Federation of Journalists.
Recent weeks have seen tension skyrocket between the Iraqi military and Kurdish peshmerga forces, particularly around the disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk near the southern edge of KRG territory. The PUK supported the vote half-heartedly.
Mr. Barzani, himself a former guerrilla leader, has run the KRG since 2005, presiding with a firm hand as the region prospered while the rest of Iraq struggled in civil war.