Iraq's Oil and Gas Law Threatens Stability of Govt

And the Kurdish now seem to be drawing the political battle lines proper, making moves toward political alliances that could threaten to topple the precarious ruling coalition with which al-Maliki holds power in Baghdad.

After Iraqi federal elections in late 2010, the Shiite-dominated block led by al-Maliki was almost evenly matched by the Sunni-dominated parties led by the previous Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayed Allawi. Both blocs tried to form a majority and the Kurdish politicians, who had a total of 57 seats in the Iraqi parliament, said they would back whichever group proved most responsive to their demands. Eventually, in order to get Kurdish politicians, to support him, al-Maliki agreed to 18 Kurdish conditions. The Kurdish joined him and he was able to form a government. But even today, the Kurdish bloc continues to play kingmaker inside Iraq’s 325 seat parliament.

And now the Kurds are using their position to put pressure on al-Maliki over the federal oil and gas law.

According to an insider, the Kurdish president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud al-Barzani, has been in touch with former prime minister and al-Maliki’s chief rival, Allawi, to discuss whether it might be possible to propose a vote of no confidence in the al-Maliki’s government. However, the same insider was quick to point out that this was most likely “a mission impossible” mainly because such a vote would require three quarters of the MPs to agree. This would be impossible because the two largest blocs – al-Maliki’s mainly Shiite Muslim bloc and Allawi’s mainly Sunni Muslim bloc are so evenly split. Even with Kurdish support on one side or the other, three quarters could not be achieved.

However things are never that clear cut in Iraqi Kurdistan, where two major political parties - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - often compete. At a federal level, they have tended to vote together in the interests of the Kurdish people but within the state government they are often at odds.

On Sept. 13, al-Barzani met with Kurdish MPs in Erbil to discuss how to combat the new legislation that he felt had been approved by al-Maliki without adequate consultation with all concerned parties.

But while Barzani, a member of the KDP, was rattling his sabres and issuing anti-al-Maliki invective, the Kurdish state’s president, Jalal Talabani, a member of the PUK, made the surprise move of inviting al-Maliki to his house in Iraqi Kurdistan for talks.

A statement issued by al-Talabani after the Sept. 17 meeting said that the two men had discussed how to build a better relationship. “Both sides had confirmed necessity of a visit by the Kurdistan Region’s delegation to Baghdad, that would be welcomed by the Prime Minister, in order to settle the political, economic and social issues,” the Iraqi news agency Aswat al-Iraq reported two days later.

But it was quickly becoming clear that the two biggest Kurdish parties had not agreed on a unified approach to al-Maliki’s government.

One of the 13 members of Talabani’s PUK party who have a seat in the federal Iraqi parliament as part of the so-called Kurdish alliance, Burhan Mohammed Faraj, confirmed this. “There are different opinions within the Kurdish political leadership,” he told NIQASH. “But we all have the same goals and this is what matters in the end.”

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2 Responses to Iraq's Oil and Gas Law Threatens Stability of Govt

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    Re da Caste
    4th October 2011 at 13:33 #

    This 18 issues Maliki agreed upon need also to be implemented! Agree is one thing, but agree without be proved in practice is a total different matter. Maliki is not to trust!

  2. Notice: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /srv/users/ibn/apps/ibn/public/wp-content/plugins/subscribe-to-comments/subscribe-to-comments.php on line 590
    Matt Ward
    5th October 2011 at 03:56 #

    How does all of this effect the revaluation of the dinar?