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Territory lost by Kurds in Iraq

01 November 2017

On Sunday, weeks after it was clear that he had lost the bet, Barzani stepped down as president of the Kurdish semiautonomous region of Iraq, leaving the Kurds with no credible successor even as bickering parliamentary factions struggled to apportion his powers.

The riots came after the Kurdish regional president chose to effectively step down.

It was taken this month after members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the region's top opposition party, forged an Iranian-brokered deal with Baghdad to withdraw from the province while Iraqi troops moved forward to take their positions. Barzani had spearheaded the referendum.

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The protesters broke into the assembly and attacked lawmakers and journalists until police subdued them.

Within two days of the referendum Iraqi forces took over territory that had been held by the Kurds, including Kirkuk.

The split between the Kurds and the Iraqi central government is a particular challenge for Washington, which is closely allied to both sides. Without the oil, an independent Kurdistan would be economically unviable.

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Barzani's request, which was approved by the regional parliament late Sunday, was to distribute his presidential powers among the Kurdish prime minister, the Kurdish parliament and the judiciary.

Mr Barzani's grip on KRG politics may not fully disappear with his resignation, as he will remain in politics by leading the high political council, a body set up after the referendum. However, as of Wednesday, he will no longer be president of the region. Elections were scheduled for November 1 but were suspended after the loss of Kirkuk.

"Negotiations are still ongoing", said a Kurdish official in the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Erbil.

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Territory lost by Kurds in Iraq