Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Selling the same bird twice!

That's what we say in Baghdad about bird keepers who raise good pigeons that they can sell them over and over again because the birds would find their way back to their original owner. The same is used to describe frauds who manage to deceive people and sell the same item to more than one customer or to the same customer twice.
Of course I'm not trying to give you a lesson in Iraqi dialect but I thought the title fits the issue I want to talk about today…

A new political fight erupted between President Talabani and Prime Minister Jafari after the latter's controversial visit to Turkey.

Talabani's reaction was immediate and came in an official statement from his office:

The presidency was surprised by outgoing prime minister Jafari's visit to the Turkish Republic without prior notice to the other wings of the Iraqi government which consists-according to articles 24,25 of the still active TAL-consists of the cabinet, the presidency, the chairmanship of the parliament and the supreme judicial council.

The interim cabinet does not have the authority to do negotiations with other countries that might result in any sort of deal or agreement or memo of understanding which can put the permanent Iraqi government before commitments it will not be capable of fulfilling.

We are sorry that Mr. Jafari made this decision which does not match Mr. Jafari's promises about committing to the guidelines of 'team work'.
The Iraqi government will not approve any deal or agreement made between Mr. Jafari and the Turkish government….

Prominent Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman in a statement given to al-Sabah reflected the Kurds' fear "from Turkish policy and in particular from negotiations between the Iraqi and Turkish governments without a Kurdish party taking part…".

The UIA's Ridha Jawad Taqi responded to the Kurdish criticism and told al-Sabah in an interview that "the reason why the Kurdish brothers are upset was because Mr. Jafari didn't ask the foreign minister Zibari to accompany him. There's no reason for this overreaction. The visit was only for a few hours and there's nothing that forbids the prim minister from traveling without notifying the presidency or the parliament".

The news of Jafari's trip left a bad impression among many Iraqis considering the critical time Iraq is going through. One local newspaper said "we were expecting the prime minister to cancel all trips and forbid his cabinet members to leave the country at this time of crisis but he shocked us with his sudden urge to visit the beaches of Istanbul!".

The trip was particularly disturbing for the Kurds who are chronically allergic to Turkey.

Today there has been a big conference for the provincial administrations of the 9 mid-south and south provinces (from Hilla to Basra) to discuss the idea of establishing the 'federation of the south'.
This supports the theory that predicts that Jafari's visit to Turkey had most likely the objective of discussing necessary arrangements with the Turks before declaring the establishment of the 'federation of the south' mentioned above.

I think the UIA had the intention to make this move for some time now and they seized the latest wave of sectarian tension to revive their idea of federalism and start discussing arrangements with Turkey.
It's not a secret that the UIA had been dreaming of a sectarian state in the south and of taking over the oil riches of the country which is concentrated in Basra and Amara.
But the new state has to gain the approval of the neighboring powers and a large deal of that is Turkey's approval and support. And I assume that most of Jafari's time in Turkey was dedicated to discussing the fate of Kirkuk which is as you know another oil-rich province with an ethnically mixed population with the Kurds dreaming of uniting it with the rest of their region for years.

There's still a good deal of mystery still surrounding Jafari's talks in Turkey but the angry Kurdish reaction indicates that Kirkuk is involved, probably Jafari wanted to practice pressure on the Kurds by telling them that he will obstruct their pursuit of Kirkuk if they refuse to support him in the parliament.

This is my theory and I could be wrong but what I'm sure of is that this will only complicate the political process even more than it already is.

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