Kur­dish lead­er­ship: Hys­teric and im­bal­anced Ma­liki should step down

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - Pre­pared by Salih Wal­ad­bagi

The Kur­dish Min­is­ters have boy­cotted Iraqi Cab­i­net meet­ings. The Kur­dish Pesh­marga forces have taken con­trol of two oil fields. The Iraqi govern­ment has halted cargo flights to Kur­dish cities in re­sponse.

Of­fi­cials in the semi-au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan Re­gion of Iraq lashed out at a “hys­ter­i­cal” Prime Min­is­ter Nouri Ma­liki urg­ing him to step down as Iraq’s abortive gov­ern­ing struc­ture seem to plunge into a po­lit­i­cal dis­ar­ray.

The Pres­i­dency of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has pub­lished a state­ment in re­ac­tion to Ma­liki's most re­cent al­le­ga­tions against Er­bil.

As the two sides ratch­eted up the rhetoric, long-sim­mer­ing ten­sions be­tween Kurds and Bagh­dad seemed headed for a show­down.

“Ma­liki works very hard to find ex­cuses for his mis­takes and blames his fail­ure on oth­ers,” the pres­i­den­tial state­ment read.

When we think of Ma­liki’s words, the state­ment reads, we can con­clude that he has be­come “hys­teric and im­bal­anced.”

In his weekly speech, PM Ma­liki said that Er­bil, the cap­i­tal of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, has be­come a haven for ter­ror­ists and fighters of Is­lamic State [ear­lier known as the Is­lamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS].

“Er­bil was also a safe refuge for Ma­liki when he was run­ning from the for­mer Iraqi dic­ta­tor,” the state­ment read.

Now people are es­cap­ing from Ma­liki’s dic­ta­tor­ship and flee to Er­bil, the state­ment strongly re­acted to the failed Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Ma­liki.

“You of­fered the ISIS a place. It was you and your army who handed over Iraqi ter­ri­to­ries, the weapons and the equip­ment of six bri­gades of the Iraqi army to ISIS.”

The Kur­dish lead­er­ship very strongly ac­cused Ma­liki of plung­ing the coun- try into a fur­ther per­ilous sit­u­a­tion, ask­ing him to seek con­tri­tion and re­sign from his post.

"You [Ma­liki] must apol­o­gize to the Kur­dish in par­tic­u­lar and Iraqi people and then step down. You have de­stroyed the coun­try and some­one like you can­not save it from crises.”

PM Ma­liki ac­cused the Kurds of ex­ploit­ing the cri­sis to push for state­hood. Mean­while, Iraq’s high­est Shiaa re­li­gious fig­ure Ali Sis­tani asked the politi­cians to “close ranks” and to stop what he called their “rad­i­cal dis­course”.

PM Ma­liki is a mem­ber of the po­lit­i­cal bloc "The State of Law" rep­re­sent­ing Shiaa Mus­lims, Iraq’s ma­jor­ity pop­u­la­tion, con­cen­trated in Bagh­dad and the south.

The in­ten­si­fied war of words be­tween Iraq's Cen­tral Govern­ment and the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment (KRG) in the north would most likely di­min­ish prospects of a co­her­ent re­ac­tion to a Sunni-led in­sur­gency that has cap­tured large swaths of land in the north and west parts of the coun­try.

Af­ter April elec­tions, the Iraqi po­lit­i­cal groups have not been able to sit to­gether at a ta­ble to agree on the na­tion’s lead­er­ship. Ma­liki has re­sisted ef­forts from crit­ics to re­frain from seek­ing a third term.

Iraq's Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nouri Shawez, the high­est rank­ing Kur­dish mem­ber of the govern­ment, said that Mr Ma­liki's state­ments were "meant to hide the big se­cu­rity fi­asco," BBC re­ported.

At the same time, the Kur­dish po­lit­i­cal blocs in Bagh­dad de­clared that they would boy­cott Cab­i­net meet­ings. The move would cer­tainly make Iraq’s po­lit­i­cal process halt as the harsh words from the Kur­dish lead­er­ship fol­lowed Ma­liki's weekly speech.

Iraq's For­eign Min­is­ter Hoshi­yar Ze­bari an­nounced on Fri­day that the Kur­dish politi­cians would stop run­ning their min­istries, a day af­ter they had de­clared a boy­cott of the Govern­ment Cab­i­net meet­ings.

The min­istries that are af­fected in­clude: Ze­bari's For­eign Min­istry, the Trade Min­istry, the Min­istry of Mi­gra­tion, the Health Min­istry and the Deputy Pre­mier­ship, the Reuters news agency re­ported.

Ze­bari said that the Kur­dish MPs would con­tinue at­tend­ing Iraqi Par­lia­ment’s ses­sions, adding that the coun­try falls apart if a na­tional in­clu­sive govern­ment would not be formed soon.

He fur­ther added that Iraq is at the mo­ment fac­tu­ally di­vided into three states; Kur­dish in the north, a black state which is led by a Sunni Is­lamic State Group and a Shi­aaled state from Bagh­dad down to the south of the coun­try.

Later, PM Ma­liki threat­ened the Kur­dish Min­is­ters and said that he would fill their posts with new min­is­ters.

But Kifa Mah­mud Ka­reem, an ad­vi­sor to the Kur­dish Re­gional Govern­ment’s Pres­i­dent, told the Iraqi semi-of­fi­cial tele­vi­sion that the Kur­dish min­is­ters con­sider them­selves to be “on leave”.

He fur­ther added that they would go back to Bagh­dad when the Par­lia­ment agreed on the nom­i­na­tions of the pres­i­dency and the par­lia­ment speaker and his deputy's posts.

The Kur­dish Pesh­marga forces ad­vanced in the oil-rich Kur­dish ma­jor­ity prov­ince of Kirkuk and con­trolled two oil fields on Fri­day.

Later, the Iraqi Min­istry of Oil claimed that the Kur­dish forces ex­pelled the Arab work­ers of the oil fields and re­placed them with Kur­dish per­son­nel.

The KRG’s of­fi­cial spokesman Safin Diza­yee strongly re­jected the claims made by the Iraqi Min­istry of Oil, say­ing that none of the Arab work­ers had been ex­pelled or quit­ted.

The Kur­dish Pesh­marga forces [means those who face death in English] had ad­vanced in Kirkuk in June soon af­ter the Iraqi army soldiers ran away in the face of an of­fen­sive by the fighters of ISIS.

The Kur­dish zone in the north of the coun­try re­mains un­der the pro­tec­tion of the KRG. But much of Kur­dish-con­trolled ter­ri­tory at the mo­ment borders with lands un­der the con­trol of Is­lamic State Group and the Sunni Mus­lim sep­a­ratists. How­ever, the Kur­dish of­fi­cials have not hid­den their fear of be­ing neigh­bours with the Is­lamic State Group and de­scribed them as a “ter­ror­ist group.”

In the lat­est de­vel­op­ment, avi­a­tion au­thor­i­ties in Bagh­dad have halted cargo flights to Er­bil and Iraq's sec­ond ma­jor Kur­dish city, Su­laimaniyah, Reuters news agency re­ported.

The UN said at least 2,417 Iraqis, in­clud­ing 1,531 civil­ians, were killed in "acts of vi­o­lence and ter­ror­ism" in June.

More than a mil­lion peo- ple have fled their homes as a re­sult of the fight­ing in re­cent months; many of them have taken refuge in the safe cities of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties say they are also pre­par­ing a ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence.

The Pres­i­dent of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Mas­soud Barzani last week asked the Par­lia­ment of the au­ton­o­mous Kur­dish re­gion to plan a ref­er­en­dum on Kur­dish in­de­pen­dence, sig­nalling his im­pa­tience with Bagh­dad.

How­ever, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional pow­ers such as Iran and the United States are in gen­eral re­luc­tant to ac­cept such de­vel­op­ment, em­pha­siz­ing on Iraq re­main­ing in­tact.

The Kur­dish me­dia sev­eral times quoted the Turk­ish of­fi­cials on the in­de­pen­dence is­sue. The Turks an­nounced that the Kurds have the right to de­ter­mine their fu­ture. The Turk­ish govern­ment does not con­sider an in­de­pen­dent safe Kur­dish state as a threat any­more, as the two sides have es­tab­lished long-term strate­gic en­ergy ties re­cently.

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