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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Kurdish Forces Seize Two Iraqi Oil Fields

by VOA News July 11, 2014

Kurdish peshmerga have seized two northern Iraqi oil fields near Kirkuk amid rising tensions between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region.

The national oil ministry in Baghdad condemned the takeover of the Kirkuk and Bai Hassan oil fields Friday and ordered the peshmerga withdraw immediately.

​​The takeover comes a month after Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk and other northern areas following the withdrawal of Iraqi forces preoccupied by an onslaught of insurgents linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Kurdish political leaders have pulled out of Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki's government and have called the leader 'hysterical.' The prime minister has accused Kurds of harboring Sunni insurgents.

Parliamentary deadlock

On Monday, Iraq's deadlocked parliament postponed its next session until mid-August, unable to decide how to split political power even as ISIL militants edge close to the capital.

Maliki's Shi'ite political bloc won the most seats in the April elections, but not a majority. Many Iraqi lawmakers have accused him of failing to give enough political consideration to the country's minority Sunni population. He has balked at demands that he not seek a third term as prime minister.

​​According to reports by Reuters, the Kurdish political bloc will no longer take part in Iraq's national government in protest against al-Maliki's accusation that Kurds were harboring Islamist insurgents in their capital, the foreign minister said on Friday.

'We have suspended our government business,' minister Hoshiyar Zebari, who is a Kurd, told Reuters.

The Kurds said on Thursday they were canceling their participation in cabinet meetings. Zebari told Reuters that Kurdish ministers were now suspending their day-to-day involvement the foreign, trade, migration and health ministries and the deputy premiership.

Zebari said the Kurds will continue to attend the parliament, but that Iraq risked falling apart if a new inclusive government is not formed soon, as 'the country is now divided literally into three states — Kurdish; a black state (ISIL) and Baghdad.'

Some material for this report comes from Reuters.

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