Kurdish parties opposed to Barzani report attacks on offices overnight

Mr Barzani, 71, said he did not want his term to be extended beyond Wednesday after a controversial referendum on Kurdish independence that he organised last month sparked a crisis with the government in Baghdad and neighbouring states.

The veteran guerrilla leader has run Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region since 2005, presiding with a firm hand as the region prospered while the rest of Iraq struggled in civil war.

Mr Barzani also accused leaders of the PUK, whose founder Jalal Talabani died days after the referendum, of being guilty of "high treason on 16 October".

The region's airspace was closed to worldwide commercial flights, Turkey threatened the use of military force and both Tehran and Ankara threatened to close border crossings vital to the land-locked region.

Armed protesters supporting Mr Barzani stormed parliament as it met on Sunday to approve his resignation.

Mr Abadi insisted that the vote was unconstitutional and ordered pro-government forces to retake disputed areas held by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters since 2014, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, sparking clashes that left dozens dead.

The move prompted speculation on whether it was Barzani's exit from politics but his senior assistant, Hemin Hawrami, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Barzani "will stay in Kurdish politics and lead the high political council", though as of November 1, he will no longer be president of the region.

In the days to come, other losses followed: The Kurdish region's oil revenues were effectively halved.

It was a tarnishing of Barzani's legacy, many said. "We were a state within a state", said Kamal Chomani, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, in a phone interview Sunday. Opposition lawmakers who had been barricaded inside managed to leave later, according to their parties.

Yet it is unclear if Sunday was the final curtain for Barzani, an ardent Kurdish nationalist since the age of 16 who took up the mantle of his father, the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani, after his death in 1979.

Abadi said he was following developments in the Kurdish area closely.

Though it could serve as a way to keep Barzani in power for an interim period, Ali continued, it could also lead to the fracturing of the Kurdish region along the fault lines of the two major Kurdish parties' spheres of control.

  • Tracy Klein