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Kurdish Officials Warn of Potential Kurd-Arab War | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- An Iraqi MP close to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says that statements made by Nechirvan Barzani, Kurdistan Region prime minister, about a war breaking out between Arabs and Kurds after the American withdrawal from Iraq, are “a disservice to the political situation in the country.”

Sami al-Askari, an MP for the United Iraqi Alliance, stresses that “the recent statements made by the Kurds do not serve the political situation in Iraq,” and points out to Asharq Al-Awsat that “Surely there are problems between the central government and the Kurdistan Region government; these differences cannot be solved in this way but through dialogue and commitment to the Constitution.”

In this context, Barzani had voiced concern over an American withdrawal from Iraq before a settlement of litigious issues between Baghdad and Irbil, mainly the problem of Kirkuk. He also urged the US to put pressure on the Iraqi Government for a final solution concerning Kirkuk, and complained about the refusal of the Americans to intervene directly in this question.

Furthermore, Kamal Kirkuki, Kurdistan Region Parliament Deputy Speaker, has described Al-Maliki as a “dangerous man”, and said that the Kurds are trying to stand up to him, adding: “Al-Maliki is a danger to Iraq and to democracy; he is a second Saddam.”

Commenting on Kirkuki’s statements, Al-Askari says that “these statements lead to more tension between the two sides; they do not serve the interest of Iraq and even those of the Kurds themselves. Al-Maliki is bound by the Constitution, and if anyone committed to the Constitution is called a dictator then it would be whitewashing dictatorship which, as we all know, ignores both the law and the Constitution, and the case here now is quite the opposite.” He points out that “heaping criticism on the person of the prime minister is totally unacceptable, and does not serve any side; so, attention should be paid to the use of words when statements are made,” stressing that “brandishing the threat of war is a serious matter, and should not be hinted at through the media; we know already the consequences of such threats, which entail only destruction for Arabs and Kurds alike.”

Al-Askari adds: “The war method is gone forever, and this makes us stress that this government must be a strong federal government that prevents civil wars; failing that and if the government weakens, a war might break out between Irbil and Mosul, for instance; there should never be any thoughts about the option of war.”

These statements were made by the Kurdish officials in question following the announcement of the preliminary results of the [recent] provincial elections that showed an overwhelming victory for the list of Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad and in the southern provinces.

For his part, Al-Maliki has called more than once for the setting up of a strong central government in Baghdad, and this idea is opposed by the Kurds.

For his part, Falah Mustafa, official in charge of the foreign relations department (foreign ministry) in the Kurdistan Region government, said to Asharq Al-Awsat that Barzani’s statements, in this respect, “are an expression of a real fear of seeing the collapse of the program of action that, together with the other sincere Iraqi and Kurdish sides, we have strived to carry out, with the aim of building a democratic, constitutional, federal, multi-ethnic Iraq.” He further emphasized to Asharq Al-Awsat that the statements in question are simply an expression of fear over a possible deterioration of the situation in the future, and this is why we stress that it is the duty of all sides that are part of the political process in the new Iraq to solve the pending problems because they represent fateful issues that need serious efforts to solve them; such a political determination should be seen in Baghdad too, as much as it is shown by the political leadership in Kurdistan.”

Moreover, Mahmud Uthman, a Kurdistan Alliance MP, has described the statements made by Kirkuki as “unacceptable, unreasonable, and should not have been made.”

Uthman also said to Asharq Al-Awsat that “such statements could lead to a complication of the crisis between the two sides,” stressing that “this statement does not represent the Kurdish leadership because we are still with Al-Maliki, whether in the government or in the quadripartite coalition, and one cannot describe him as dangerous and similar to Saddam.”

Concerning warnings that a war might break out between Arabs and Kurds, Uthman said: “Barzani’s statements are only about the regions in dispute between the central government and the Kurdistan Region, all the more because this problem has not yet been solved, and failure to resolve it -on top of an American withdrawal from Iraq -could lead to acts of violence.” He stresses also that “all these statements indicate that the situation is tense between the central government and the Region, and that it is not at the required level; these statements reflect a sort of concern and fear of the future, nothing more.”

In another development and concerning the possibility of a conflict between Baghdad and Irbil, following the withdrawal of the American forces, Muqdad Jibril, spokesman for the American Army in Iraq, has stressed that this matter “is a national Iraqi question.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Jibril says that American withdrawal from Iraq has no link to domestic or political matters in Iraq, and political leaders of both sides, in the central government and in the Kurdistan Region, should work jointly for resolving differences between them.” Jibril affirms that the US “is not siding with one party [to the conflict] to the detriment of the other,” stressing that “the recent security agreement has emphasized that America will take a position that supports the protection of Iraq, which is a clear position to all sides.”