US says opposition to co-operate in northern Iraq

19 March 2003
US special envoy to Iraqi opposition groups Zalmay Khalizad said in Ankara on 18 March that leading opposition groups in northern Iraq have reached an agreement to prevent chaos in the area following the start of a war.

He said that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the two leading Kurdish opposition groups, and the Iraqi Turkoman Front, which represents Turkic-speaking people in northern Iraq, will work to discourage uncontrolled movements of refugees and internally-displaced persons in northern Iraq. Khalizad said that the groups were also committed to 'avoiding any acts -that could incite civil discord'.

There are fears that refugees returning to areas controlled by the Iraqi government could become involved in disputes and fighting about property confiscated by Baghdad and redistributed mainly to Iraqis. Khalizad said there would be a formal commission to adjudicate on property claims. Further meetings involving Khalizad and the three groups are taking place in Ankara on 19 March.

The London daily Financial Times reported on 19 March that the KDP has been told that Iraqi regular army commanders in the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk and Arab tribes in the surrounding regions will not fight when the war starts. 'The tribes and the army have switched to Masoud Barzani,' the Financial Times quoted Saad Bazaaz, a member of the co-ordinating committee of the Iraqi opposition, as saying. Barzani is head of the KDP.

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