Nov 15, 2012

Iraqi Kurdistan: Maliki’s Wrong Steps

Officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) claim that Prime Minister Maliki’s disloyalty to President Talabani is the cause of the political factions in Iraq.

Below is an article published by Rudaw:

According to a senior official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has left Baghdad and returned to Sulaimani in protest of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s actions.

Officials from the PUK say that Maliki has been disloyal to Talabani. They added that if Maliki does not change his attitude, they will respond by other means.

PUK spokesperson Azad Jundiyani told Rudaw, “Recently, Maliki has taken many wrong steps. He must fix his mistakes or we will have no option but to use other means to deal with his mistakes.”

“Without a doubt, the Kurds and the other Iraqi political factions have not run out of other options, but we want continue to negotiations before resorting to other means,”Jundiyani said, adding that they will initiate negotiations with the National Coalition, the largest Shia political faction in Iraq. 

Upon his return to Iraq from Germany in September [2012], Talabani proposed a national dialogue between all political factions, and Maliki announced that the majority must have the right to form the government. Talabani asked Maliki to freeze the formation of the Dijla forces, and Maliki extended its authority and added Salahaddin province under its command. Talabani announced that Tariq al-Hashimi is still the vice president of Iraq, and his fourth execution order was announced.

According to some PUK officials, Talabani is very frustrated with Maliki. A PUK official who wished to remain anonymous said, “Talabani’s absence in Baghdad and his return to Sulaimani is related to his anger toward Maliki’s recent actions.”

Fareed Assasard, a senior official of PUK, told Rudaw, “Maliki promised Talabani to postpone the formation of the Dijla Operations Command, but he still went ahead with it even if though it meant violating the rights of others.”

Last April [2012], some Kurdish political factions -- including the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and the Kurdistan Islamic League (Komal) -- along with the Iraqiya List and the Sadrist Movement made efforts to initiate a non-confidence vote against Maliki.

However, Talabani decided to remain neutral and refused to send the MPs’ signatures to parliament. As a result, their attempt to withdraw confidence from the Iraqi PM failed.

Farhad Atrushi, a KDP MP in Iraqi Parliament, said, “If Maliki was a loyal man, he would have respected Talabani’s requests concerning the Dijla Operations Command.”

When the Dijla forces were first mentioned, some warned that the intention behind the command was to limit Kurdish authority in the disputed territories. But the PUK announced that Maliki had promised Talabani that the Kurds didn’t need to be concerned.

Najmaldin Karim, governor of Kirkuk and a member of the PUK political bureau, told Rudaw in an earlier interview that Maliki had promised him not to establish the Dijla forces, but then did so anyway. 

“Maliki has too much pride and he is already preparing for another term,” Atrushi told Rudaw. “The president has a constitutional right to withdraw confidence from him and he should do it.”

Atrushi added that even some Shia political factions have discussed removing Maliki.

Alla Talabani, a PUK MP in Iraqi Parliament, said, “Maliki will not support Talabani in his efforts and the Kurds must unite to pressure Maliki.”

“When the idea of withdrawing confidence was on the table, Maliki proposed resolving the issues through agreements,” Alla Talabani said. “However, he doesn’t talk like that anymore and he keeps strengthening his position.”

After eight months of political tension between the central government and the Kurdistan Region, a Kurdish delegation visited Baghdad to discuss the issues last month.

Upon the delegation’s arrival in Baghdad, the Iraqi presidential office issued a statement asking the media and Iraqi political leaders to cease their verbal attacks against each other. Talabani asked the delegation to use respectable language and seek the interests of all Iraq, not just Kurdistan, when negotiating with Maliki.

A few hours later, in an interview with Al-Sumaria News, Maliki made comments that deepened the issues between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region.

Alla Talabani said that Iraq is in a bad political situation and that relationships between the political factions have never been worse. “The State of Law Coalition, led by Maliki, is the only beneficiary in this situation,” she said, adding that negotiations have reached a deadlock.

Atrushi said, “Talabani can resolve the current crisis with one word or statement, and that is to say that Maliki is the cause of this crisis.”