Iraq – Kurdish Military Stand Off: and the Winner is…

By Roman Zagros.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Recently tensions between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan have run high, complete with a military stand-off. The crisis seems to have been defused now. But if it was all just politics, then who won? And who lost – and why?

The recent military standoff between forces from the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad over disputed territory has further exposed the tensions between the region’s president, Massoud Barzani, and the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

There is, however, more to this dispute than meets the eye, as the two leaders vie for power – but not necessarily power over one another, rather, each in his respective domain.

A few years ago it would have been inconceivable to imagine Iraqi Kurds and Shiites facing each other on the battlefield. But a rare skirmish between an Iraqi police unit and a force of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga – the force belonging to Iraqi Kurdistan that protects the northern state – in mid-November prompted the two leaders to dispatch thousands of troops in what would appear to be preparations for a military showdown, amid emotionally charged rhetoric from both sides.

However even from the beginning, this looked very unlikely. And last week, the Speaker in the Iraqi Parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi, visited Barzani in Iraqi Kurdistan and then managed to bring military chiefs from both sides together at a meeting in Baghdad; this week the two sides agreed to pull their forces out of the disputed territory and to deal with other outstanding issues – such as a new Iraqi military command centre worse location has upset the Iraqi Kurdish authorities – that may well have exacerbated the situation.

5 Responses to Iraq – Kurdish Military Stand Off: and the Winner is…

  1. Uncle Sam and friends November 30, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Do you think that Sunni Arabs are nuts? Lost memory? Have they forgoten the assesination attempt of al-Hashimi? Trying to disarm the saadrist militia? To use the Iraqi federal army for a power game against iraqi citizens with the “wrong” political support?
    Maliki’s “divide and conquer” policy has failed against the kurds as the article is concluding. The same thing will happens with the Sunnis.
    If you realize that Maliki is fighting for a political survival, risking to not receive support from kurds nor sunnis and not enough shias. The conclusion is obvious. Maliki is no more after elections. Unless, he uses his federal army to dissolve the Parliament and become the new dictator of Iraq.
    One of my major concerns right now is that Malikis cabinet is out of control for the Iraqi Parliament. The deeds of Maliki are clear. The cabinet or Maliki government is out of reach and do what it wants without consulting the Parliament of Iraq.
    I do not grasp how the iraqi people tolerates such behaviour, how the impotent Parliament accepts such role and what the heck is the USA is doing when they eat popcorn and wath the Iraqi match?

  2. Observer November 30, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Well Uncle Sam, have the Sunni Arabs lost memory? Ask this question to yourself. What do you think was the main factor for the first no-confidence vote to fail? Because many Sunnis in the disputed areas backed down from the effort! Disarming Sadrist militia has nothing to do with Sunnis. The Hashimi’s execution has not taken place. Don’t forget that.
    Al-Maliki did not divide and conquer – the Kurdish leaders themselves were divided – and there is mote to this than just minor politicking of course.
    Al-Maliki is not after elections? And who do you think will lead the State of Law Coalition in the April provincial poll? Election not necessarily means a parliamentary election. The writer made it clear that the premier only needs some breathing space for the provincial election in April; which is very crucial and is a big test ahead of 2014 parliamentary election.

  3. Uncle Sam and friends November 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Observer. Iraq is the country of the blinds where the one eyed is the PM. Yes, divide and conquer policy has a track record of success so far. The concentration of power in one person is only possible in a divided society like Iraq.
    In democratic countries the Parliament is the ultimate responsible for the state of the country. Not in Iraq, it is the Cabinet. I do not know if this is hypocrisy or pure impotence. Whatever the reason, the situation is bad and going to worse.
    Sorry too many brown noses and tolerance/acceptance for corruption due to immunity.
    If Iraq is one of the most corrupted countries in the world, I believe that Maliki has “something” to do with it, or is he not in top of what his cabinet is doing?
    I am not kurd nor arab. Just one more invesor who avoids Baghdad and have choosen Erbil.
    What the heck is the USA doing or planning for Iraq? Right now, they are eating popcorn and watching the game. l

  4. Observer November 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    But you chose Erbil because you think Al-Maliki is corrupt but Barzani is not?
    You hear about Al-Maliki government’s corruption precisely due to the democratic measures that allow such thorough auditing! And it is exactly for the opposite reason that you will not hear about Barzani’s.
    Wish your investment well.

  5. Uncle Sam and friends December 1, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    Corruption is in all over Iraq including Kurdistan. The kurdish society is in a better shape that the Basras, Baghdads of this world. Obviously, there is a popular democratic support for the Talibanis and Barzanis of this world.
    But you are right, corruption sucks in all over Iraq. Kurdistan is less corrupted and some perceived corruption in Kurdistan is due to the political power games with Baghdad or rather Maliki.

    What do you do when Baghdad is taking the oil from Kurdistan but not paying it to the KRG and indirectly to the oil companies? What does Maliki do when the kurds refuse to send more oil to the Kirkuk Ceyhan pipelines and contracts with customers are not honoured? The waiting lead time in June off Ceyhan was of 21 days!

    Sorry, not much brains from Baghdad or don’t care for consequences of any kind both commercial or political. There are a serie of four documents published in among other newspapers Rudaw about corruption in Iraq. One reason for the lack of brains in the government has been the forge of more than 2,000 academic or university titles which made possible to put incompetent party people in the administration. Cases like food rations thefts and kick backs, the money laundering of Central Bank of Iraq, the russian weapon deal etc etc.

    The cases of corruption found in Baghdad came from the IG’s, the Supreme Board of Audit. SIGR etc until they reported directy to members of the Cabinet or Dawa Party. Well, most of my information is coming from reports from the US Embassy. In Erbil, there is a ver vocal opposition in the Gorran and well, it sounds like if I was in love with Kurdistan, but it is just that business are possible in Kurdistan.

    The democracy in Iraq is an issue for the Iraqis. You get what you vote to the power. But agree with me that this kind of behaviour from Maliki is not so little baathist, or?