Iraq announced a travel ban on the governor of Kirkuk, Rakan al-Jabouri — appointed to restore Baghdad-led leadership and expel Kurdish leadership in the aftermath of the 2017 Kurdish independence referendum — on Tuesday amid charges of criminally misappropriating public funds.
Kirkuk is a multi-ethnic city in northern Iraq traditionally under the governance of Baghdad, coveted for its extensive oil reserves. In 2014, the Islamic State attacked the city and the Iraqi military fled. Peshmerga troops affiliated with the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) based in Erbil filled the void, expelling ISIS from the city and taking over its administration.
Following the demise of the Islamic State in the country — largely at the hand of U.S.-allied Peshmerga forces — then-Kurdish President Masoud Barzani called for a referendum on Kurdish independence, which the Kurds approved in a landslide vote in September 2017. Baghdad responded to the vote, which the KRG