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Decision by Kurds to keep militia deals blow to coalition

Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said his Kurdistan Democratic party had no plans to dissolve its armed militia, the peshmerga, which he said was purely a defensive force, it was confirmed on Monday. Mr Barzani’s announcement, reported in a local newspaper at the weekend, is a blow to the US-led coalition’s plans to unite Iraqi Kurdistan with the rest of Iraq as part of the postwar political process, and comes as negotiations over a new constitution for Iraq are gaining momentum. The coalition would like to see Kurdish militias eventually dissolved into a new Iraqi national army as part of a nation-building process. Mr Barzani’s announcement signals that agreeing on a new constitutional framework for a united Iraq will be far from easy. Full Story

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