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

Still, this latest standoff with the Kurds could well be a game-changer for al-Maliki.

Firstly, he has managed to turn Sunni Muslim politicians, like al-Nujaifi, who are normally his most bitter rivals into mediators. And it is hard to ignore a possible connection with the series of elections scheduled for Iraq in 2013, particularly when, on closer inspection, one can see the potential gains for the both al-Maliki and Barzani.

Next year will see provincial elections nationwide in April, a regional parliamentary election and a separate provincial poll for the Kurdistan Region and, finally, a proposed early parliamentary election across the whole of Iraq. Clearly al-Maliki needs some breathing space to conduct the April elections without the fear of facing another no-confidence theat.

By placing his federal troops on the doorstep of the multi-ethnic Kirkuk – a disputed territory, which Iraq says belongs to them while the Iraqi Kurdish say it should be part of their region – the Iraqi Prime Minister is scoring points with Sunni Arabs based in, or near, the disputed areas. He’s championing Arab interests in the face of Kurdish ambitions to incorporate those areas into their semi-autonomous region. The disputed territory is the only zone where al-Maliki can shine if he intends to bring the Sunnis on board.

In electoral terms, al-Maliki really cannot afford to push the Sunni community any further away from him; he has been in conflict with several Sunni Muslim politicians lately. The trial of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, for example, set many Sunni Muslims against the current government, pushing some Sunni Muslim leaders, including the al-Nujaifi, to call for the establishment of a semi-autonomous Sunni Muslim region similar to that controlled by the Kurds.

At the same time, Ayed Allawi, the leader of the Sunni Muslim-dominated opposition, Iraqiya, continues to search for an opportunity to instigate a potential vote of no confidence in al-Maliki. Previous plans to do this were scrapped due to fading support for the idea.

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

  1. Uncle Sam and friends 30th November 2012 at 09:18 #

    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 30th November 2012 at 11:30 #

    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 30th November 2012 at 19:09 #

    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 30th November 2012 at 23:06 #

    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 1st December 2012 at 00:52 #

    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?