Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat – In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Adil Murad, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] Central Committee, confirmed his support for early elections in Iraq as a solution to the protracted political crisis that is raging in the country. He asserted that “there is a need to change the political alliances that are currently in place, expanding their framework at a national level, not restricting such alliances to national, religious or sectarian frameworks.”
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Murad stressed that Iraq “is passing through a difficult phase, and the political developments that the country is witnessing has created a state of chaos whose repercussions will impact the Kurdistan Region whether we like it or not.”
As for evidence of how the ongoing political crisis in Baghdad is affecting the Kurdistan Region, Murad revealed that “this has affected the strategic alliance between the PUK and our ally the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP], dragging us into a pointless political conflict, particularly as the Iraqi parties and faction that are gathering around the KDP do not want the best for the Iraqi people. The evidence of this is the numerous negative positions that these forces have taken regarding the rights of the Kurdish people, most prominently the position taken by the Iraqiya bloc on the election of President Talabani, and their walking out of parliament when this was being voted on, as well as their putting forward Tariq al-Hashemi as a candidate for the presidency.
Murad also cited “the position taken by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and his famous statement against the Kurds, when he stated that ‘what was taken by force will be recovered by force’”.
The head of the PUK Central Committee also made reference to “the negative stance adopted by the Sadrist trend on the issue of implementing Article 140 of the constitution and their position against the Kurdish identity of Kirkuk province, as well as their targeting of unarmed Kurdish citizens in Kirkuk, creating a state of chaos in the province.”
Murad stressed that “these negative positions means that is our duty and responsibility to our people to oppose any attempts to abuse our historic alliance with our Shiite brothers, who shared our struggle against dictatorship, and whose blood mixed with ours in Kurdistan’s mountains and the prisons of the former dictatorship. The current reality requires us to stand against all attempts to replace al-Maliki, who is one of our closest allies.”
He added “they are exploiting political differences for their own partisan, factional and even personal interests.”
Despite the fact that the National Alliance, according to many of its senior leaders, rejects the idea of dissolving the Iraqi parliament and carrying out early election, viewing this as a last resort, Murad informed Asharq Al-Awsat “holding early elections, according to the constitutional succession present in Article 64, is the most realistic and best solutions to get out of the current and forthcoming political crises, because this will lead to the formation of a majority government and end governments based on the sectarian quota system” adding “this will also place Iraq firmly on the democratic path and achieve political stability.”
He stressed that “I believe that there is a need to change the current political alliances, otherwise alliances will be limited to sectarian, religious or national frameworks. I believe there is a need to expand the framework of such alliances in the forthcoming election period, as the PUK wants to ally with the Dawa party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Iraqi Communist Party, the Arab Socialist party, and other active democratic parties throughout Iraq to form a democratic Iraqi list to take part in the forthcoming elections. At this point, we may be able to get out of the framework of sectarian or national alliances, and away from narrow partisan or sectarian alignment.”
Commenting on the insistence of the political blocs that met recently in Erbil and Najaf to withdraw confidence from prime minister al-Maliki, Murad told Asharq Al-Awsat that “if these parties want to withdraw confidence, then the government will return once more to the National Alliance, as it is the majority in parliament, and this means that the alternative to a-Maliki will inevitably be from within the National Alliance. To my knowledge, the most likely candidate to take al-Maliki’s place are the Shiite leaders Ali al-Adeeb or Hussain al-Shahrastani.”
Al-Adeeb and al-Shahrastani have both famously taken negative positions towards the Kurdistan Region and Kurdish people, and senior PUK member Adil Murad asked “do you think this will satisfy the Kurdish leadership? Will the Kurds be able to deal with these two figures that have negative view towards the Kurdish constitutional demands?”
He added “I believe that rather than complicating the crisis and directing it in a more dangerous direction, it would be better if all involved parties supported president Talabani’s 8-point initiative that calls for national dialogue to search for satisfying solutions to the crisis.”
Adil Murad, head of the PUK Central Committee, also stressed the strength of the relations between the Kurdish people and the Shiites, telling Asharq Al-Awsat “we have a shared history of struggle with our Shiite brothers and their political parties and forces. They are our closest allies, they understand our suffering and recognize our legitimate national rights, more than those who make sweet promises from abroad. We will not relinquish this historical relationship in the interests of parties whose political programs are not in the interest of the people of Kurdistan. More importantly than this, we will be vigilant to prevent any attempts to drag our national cause into the perils of sectarian wars which would destroy everything in our region; therefore it is part of our national duty to prevent our people from being dragged into catastrophic wars that nobody will survive.”