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All options on table if al-Maliki fails to implement agreement – Kurdish official | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat from Erbil, a senior Kurdistan Alliance official highlighted “the strength and solidarity of the stance of the main Kurdish parties regarding the problems that are sweeping the political process and the difference of opinion between Erbil and Baghdad.” The Kurdistan Alliance is a unified coalition of the major Kurdish political parties, including the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] party led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] led by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. The Kurdistan Alliance official also stressed that “the unity between the two main parties, the PUK and the KDP, is strong.”

The senior Kurdistan Alliance official who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity revealed that “following the recent meeting of Iraqi political leaders in Erbil, Moqtada al-Sadr delivered an extremely serious message to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki which reflects the stance of the two main Kurdish parties and their leaders.” This message called on al-Maliki “not to gamble on dividing the Kurdish position and splitting the Kurdistan Alliance because it is a unified stance and everything that is issued by the Kurdistan Alliance is issued with the approval of its party leaders.”

The Kurdistan Alliance had previously granted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki a 15-day ultimatum for him to deliver on a previous power-sharing agreement reached in 2010, namely the Erbil Agreement. As for what will happen should al-Maliki fail to meet with the Kurdish ultimatum, the Kurdistan Alliance source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “all options are open, including withdrawing our confidence from al-Maliki and his government” adding “this our clear position.”

The senior Kurdish source also asserted that “we will not sacrifice the unity of our stance and the strength of our strategic alliance to support any side, and we strongly emphasize the need for implementing the Erbil Agreement and committing to the [Iraqi] constitution as a legal framework in order to resolve the differences between the political blocs and Erbil and Baghdad.”

He added “it would be a mistake for someone to imagine that the current crisis is a crisis between the Kurdistan Region and the [Iraqi] federal government, it is larger and more complicated than this, this is an inter-Iraqi crisis, and part of this is our problem with the al-Maliki government, therefore a prompt and decisive solution must be found so that things will not develop in a more dangerous direction.”

The senior Kurdistan Alliance official also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Shiites are the first to be harmed by the practices of the federal government that is led by al-Maliki – rather than the Sunnis or the Kurds – and this is because our brothers in the south and central Iraq are suffering more than the rest of the Iraqis due to the bad services, unpleasant economic conditions, and security violations…therefore they are suffering from [governmental] negligence.”

He added “this does not mean that our Arab Sunni brothers, not to mention the Kurds, are not also suffering from the policies of the federal government.”

The Kurdistan Alliance official also stressed that “our alliance with our Shiite brothers is a historical one and we are not going to sacrifice this for the sake of al-Maliki, particularly if there are attempts to transform the differences of opinion between central Iraq and Erbil into a wide-ranging Shiite – Kurdish conflict. We are against this, and we have confirmed that our alliance with the Shiite brothers is on-going, and this is what the recent Erbil meetings stressed. This has also been demonstrated by all our actions in the meetings with the leadership of the National Alliance, represented by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq – led by Ammar al-Hakim – and the Sadrist trend.”

He added “furthermore, we have not sacrificed our support for the legitimate demands of our Sunni brothers in Iraq, and the conflict that some parties want to portray as an Arab-Kurdish or Sunni-Shiite conflict is in fact the result of a desire by the ruling leadership to monopolize power and marginalize the other parties, whether they are Kurds or Sunnis, or even Shiites”

The senior Kurdish official claimed that “such practices will affect the Shiite parties, even those within the National Alliance, inciting an inter-Shiite conflict.”

The Kurdistan Alliance official also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Sunnis are being harmed by the government’s practices, just as the people of Al-Hillah, and just as the Kurds.”

He stressed “the Kurds will not agree to return to the past and its practices, and we insist that there should be genuine partnership, with a stance that is committed to the national project through the implementation of the Erbil Agreement and commitment to the [Iraqi] constitution.”

As for reports that President Talabani had not signed the message that was delivered to al-Maliki by Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurdistan Alliance source said “Talabani is the president of the republic and the caretaker of all Iraqi citizens and the sponsor of the whole political process; he has an initiative to bring together all the parties in order to reach an agreement to implement a roadmap to solve all the pending problems, therefore he cannot act solely as the leader of a Kurdish political party, but rather in his capacity as the president of the republic, therefore if he were to take a stance on such an issue, this would indicate his lack of neutrality.”

He added “despite this, as the leader of a Kurdish political party, he [Talabani] has taken a strong position and supports the Kurdistan Alliance; he also patronized the meetings and met with all sides.” The Kurdistan Alliance official also emphasized that “the Kurdish parties are in full agreement regarding their stance, and this includes leader of the opposition Movement for Change, Nawshirwan Mustafa. During his recent meeting with President Barzani, Mustafa stressed the need for genuine government participation, and for no side to be marginalized.”