Since Saddam Hussein was toppled by the U.S. and its allies, Iraq has never known stability. The response of the current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Maliki, has been to provoke one crisis for the sake of overcoming another one. All he has achieved for Iraq, of course, is greater problems; however, his actions have cemented his personal control over every major government position. What’s worse, Maliki has embarked on a risky battle against the Kurdistan Region, and while the battle is being fought through economic sanctions and salary non-payments, when people get hungry and he steps up the pressure, the situation could well get out of control.
Parts of Maliki’s State of Law party are on the attack with a view to provoking Arabs against Kurds. Thus far, despite having been attacked with chemical weapons and attempted genocide, the Kurdish people have not opted for the Kurdistan Liberation Movement’s line of hostility against the Arabs as peoples; rather, it has kept to its own true path, which has been to fight governments and authorities, not nations. Some in Maliki’s bloc honestly believe the Kurds and the KRG want to provoke crises and bring about a deterioration in the situation, or say Kurds should not receive the same share of the budget given to Basrah and other areas; they believe that it is right to impose economic sanctions on the people of Kurdistan, who include Kurds, Turkmen, Kildans and Assyrians.
But this is racial provocation designed to stir up hostility between Kurds and Arab. Because the matter at hand here is not that Kurdistan is ‘stealing’ the budget share of other regions by selling its oil by itself; no, the issue here relates to Maliki’s mentality, his policies and management of the state, not oil and revenue matters. For the Kurds, the matter relates to something else, too, as President Masoud Barzani said at a repatriation ceremony for the mortal remains of 93 Barzanis slaughtered during the Anfal: “This is all about breaking the pride and dignity of Kurdistan. They want Kurdistan to go backward, but Kurdistan will never take a step backw.” He added: “We will take such a stance that they have never imagined.”
We should take care that disagreements which can still be solved through dialogue are not allowed to reach a level at which the chance of a political resolution is lost. But it is a very serious matter indeed when Nuri Maliki tells the media he will not be returning the draft budget to the Iraqi Parliament, because that parliament is no longer legitimate.
This constitutes a coup against the state authorities. His speech has triggered protests and a tough reaction from other blocs and most parties, even those representing Shiites. This is actually the root of the current crises: Maliki’s policies. And Iraq has now reached rock bottom. The only solution lies in a return to constitutional democracy and mutual respect via laws and dialogue, not by punishing a group of people or an ethnicity. Choose the latter path, and Iraq will start to fall apart. What Maliki is planning is something deep which doesn’t go far enough to draw him in.