Baghdad, Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat- A source familiar with the negotiations that took place in Arbil last week between Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister whose term has expired and leader of the State of Law Coalition [SLC], and Masud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region, disclosed that the results of the talks have not been at the level aspired by Al-Maliki as his associates allege.
Al-Maliki is holding negotiations with the political blocs to secure a renewal for a second term, but his task seems to be difficult amid “semi consensus” by the Iraqi political blocs not to extend for him.
The source, which informed Asharq Al-Awsat on the talks, said that “the announcement in the news conference held by the two leaders (Al-Maliki and Barzani) that the talks were positive was different from what happened during the meetings, particularly since the coalition of the Kurdish blocs have asked for written pledges from Al-Maliki as a condition for making an alliance with him to form the government.”
The alliance of the Kurdish blocs, which includes the two ruling parties in the region, led by Barzani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, in addition to the Kurdish opposition, demand the implementation of a constitutional article that calls for normalizing the situation in the city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds seek to annex it to the rest of the region’s areas, in addition to other differences dealing with the oil contracts.
The source, which asked that its name not be disclosed due to the sensitivity of the subject, added that “the results of the visit have not been successful, something that led the SLC leader to return ‘immediately’ to Baghdad,” although he was due to stay for a longer time there.
Amir al-Kinani, leader of the Ahrar Group, which is supported by the Al-Sadr Trend, led by young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, told Asharq Al-Awsat in a comment on Barzani’s statements in which he said that “there is no red line” on Al-Maliki after his visit to Arbil, by saying that “Barzani’s statements concerning Al-Maliki are no more than a courtesy, taking into consideration that Barzani is one of those who have the most reservations on Al-Maliki.”
For his part, SLC member Ali al-Dabbagh, who is the official spokesman for the government, denied the failure of the talks between Al-Maliki and Barzani. He emphasized, in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, that “the recent visit Al-Maliki made was very successful since it worked out a specific framework for understanding that would be a turning point in the process of forming the next government.”
He pointed out that “the open stand of leader Masud Barzani will lead the other political parties to take into account this position, following which they would reassess the issue of forming the government in a realistic way.”
The president of the Kurdistan Region has said in a joint news conference with Al-Maliki that “there is no red line on Al-Maliki’s assuming the post of prime minister in the next government,” describing his talks with Al-Maliki as “fraternal and that they were held within the framework of the efforts exerted to take Iraq out of the constitutional and political vacuum as soon as possible.”
Observers say that the facts are different, particularly since the gloominess was clear on the faces of the two men during the news conference.
The political blocs have been unable to form the Iraqi Government since the parliamentary elections which were held last March.
On the impact of Al-Maliki’s recent statements on the march of the negotiations since a controversy was caused due to the criticisms made to the parties of the political process, Al-Dabbagh said that “the delivery of the political situation in Iraq makes I normal to have political disputes among the political parties,” adding that “therefore, I do not expect that the statements would influence the march of the talks,” pointing out that “had the political p arties wanted to count on statements, everything would have been over even before the holding of the elections.”
Meanwhile, Kurdistan Alliance member Firyad Rawanduzi said that “the Kurdish blocs will demand written guarantees from all parties in case they enter into alliances with them on the formation of the next government.” On whether Al-Maliki was asked to submit written assurances as a condition for an alliance, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is something that we will ask Al-Maliki and other blocs leaders to provide,” stressing that “the Alliance of the Kurdish Blocs will demand written guarantees from all political parties with which they are going to forge alliances, and this is a final position for us and is not restricted to Al-Maliki alone.”
On what has been said that Al-Maliki’s visit “has not been successful,” the leader in the Kurdistan Alliance said: “I do not think that Al-Maliki was comfortable during the visit, particularly since many things are going to be finalized in the near future.” He denied that Barzani has expressed reservation on nominating Al-Maliki for the post of prime minister, and said: “There was a talk that Barzani sent a message that says that he does not want Al-Maliki, but we denied this message. Our latest affirmation of this position was the bilateral meeting between the two leaders (Al-Maliki and Barzani) through which we emphasized that there are no red lines on Al-Maliki, who is considered an ally for us.”
In the meantime, Muhammad Allawi, member of the Al-Iraqiya list, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, expected that Al-Maliki would accept the post of president of the republic “in the end since he does not have compromises.”
Muhammad Allawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Al-Iraqiya has proposed the posts of the president of the republic and the head of the Political Security Council on Al-Maliki but he rejected the offer, and we are having serious negotiations with the Iraqi National Alliance [INA], led by Ammar al-Hakim, in light of the insistence of the SLC leader to get the post of prime minister, something that led us to go ahead with the talks with the INA.”
Al-Iraqiya insists on giving the post of prime minister to its leader Iyad Allawi since it is the list that won the elections after winning 91 seats in parliament (out of 325 seats).
The leader in the Al-Iraqiya list ruled out the possibility of an alliance between Al-Maliki and Barzani, arguing that “the Kurds have a principle in their alliances, and if there is an agreement between Al-Iraqiya and the INA, then they will be the third party in this alliance, and the same case if an alliance is forged between the INA and the SLC, they will be with this alliance. Therefore, they are speaking from this standpoint.”