On September 25th, the Kurdish people in northern Iraq held a referendum to move towards an independent Kurdish state. As the largest people group in the world without a nation, this was a historic and exciting move. Since the referendum, the Kurdish region of northern Iraq has been under siege. Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, has said that the Kurdish independence referendum is a “thing of the past”. Abadi declared the referendum to be illegal and refused calls from Kurdish leaders for negotiations.
In response to pressure from Baghdad and the Iraqi Shiite government, Turkey and Iran (with U.S. approval) stopped all international flights into Erbil and Suleymaniyeh. Turkey has been threatening to close its border crossings into northern Iraq, and Iran has completely closed their border.
The banks have closed for international transfers, and as a result Non-Governmental Agencies (NGO’s) working with refugees are faced with difficult questions about how to continue their programs. A friend and colleague, part of the ATC network, leads an NGO based in Europe. He is asking for prayer as he plans to travel overland to Iraq via Turkey to deliver funds for his staff and the refugees under their care.
On Monday and Tuesday, Iraqi & Shiite backed forces took back the city of Kirkuk and its oilfields, as well as parts of Nineveh and Diyala provinces. The Kurdish military forces in northern Iraq, known as the Peshmerga, took these areas while battling ISIS in June 2014. The United State’s showed that it would not take any stance against Iraq taking these areas from the Kurds. The Kurds were forced to completely withdraw into Erbil with hopes of convincing the U.S. to at least provide security to the three provinces of Kurdistan proper.
Abadi called for dialogue with the Kurdistan Regional Government on Tuesday night, saying he wanted a “national partnership” based on Iraq’s constitution. Iraq has an upper hand in these negotiations, as they are being backed by both Iran and the United States. If the U.S. continues to abstain in taking a stand in favor of Kurdistan, the Kurds may be forced to surrender. For more information on this rather misguided policy decision go to the following link: https://clarionproject.org/trumps-biggest-strategic-blunder/.
How to Pray:
1.) Pray that the refugees that are fleeing Kirkuk north towards Erbil would not be attacked by Iraqi forces.
2.) Kurds from different political parties are not blaming one another for the fall of Kirkuk. Pray for humility and unity for the main Kurdish factions and the leadership of the country to use this opportunity to lay down long held divisions and seek God.
3.) The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) were largely dependent on oil revenues from this region. In the fall of Kirkuk, the KRG have lost control of 45% of their oilfields. Pray for the general population, national believers, and international Christians serving in the region to be provoked to soul searching in prayer in the wake of the loss of this territory and financial provision from these oilfields.
4.) Pray for a great seeking of God among both believers and the unbelievers. (Acts 17:23-27) Pray that Iraqi believers will not be influenced by the news and the current turmoil, but instead seek God more earnestly.