Monday, August 03, 2009

Maliki in Kurdistan

A summary of some news reports from the Iraqi media on PM Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Kurdistan and his meeting with Masoud Barazani.

Azzaman reports that Maliki proposed a roadmap to Kurdish leaders that involves postponing the referendum on Kirkuk’s future.
One suggestion is to have the Kurdish side request postponing the Kirkuk referendum so that it does not appear as it [the delay] were imposed on the Kurdish regional government. The sources added that a commission will be formed (of Maliki, Barazani, Barham Salih and an unnamed Iraqi minister) to resolve disputes between the center and the region without interference from political coalitions.

Al-Sabah quoted Maliki as saying that the things we and the region agree on are more than the things we disagree on. The report adds that sources expected Maliki’s visit could last for two days during which he would meet other regional officials including the leaders of the two slates that came second and third in the region’s elections.

Maliki also played down the differences between Baghdad and Kurdistan by saying that differences between Baghdad and Kurdistan are not an anomaly.
There are differences not only with Kurdistan but also within the federal government and with other provinces. “I consider this to be normal since we are building a state on the ruins of dictatorship and a rigid centralized system. The emergence of differences does not justify pessimism, nor should we expect that to push democracy to collapse and waste all the accomplishments we paid for in sweat and blood. I personally think the problems are in smaller details and we have agreed to resolve them.

Politicians from different blocs had different things to say about the visit.

The chief of the Accord Front Dhafir al-Aani told Radio Sawa that Maliki’s visit to Kurdistan was unlikely to resolve the disputes between Baghdad and the Kurdish region. Al-Aani called the problems between the two sides “complicated” and called on Maliki to engage other political powers in the search for solutions.

Sami al-Askari, a Shiite MP known to be close to Maliki was a little bit more optimistic. Askari told al-Mada that Maliki’s visit was “an important step to bridge the gap between Baghdad and Erbil” However, he acknowledged that more time would be needed to reach final solutions. He said the details of disputed issues would be talked later by a joint commission between Baghdad and Erbil.

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