Perhaps al-Maliki’s decision to ditch Talabani was the price he felt he had to pay in order to forge ahead with another plan: to win over Sunni Muslim hearts and minds in the disputed areas by acting as their commander-in-chief, while simultaneously fending off an impending no-confidence vote.
However at the same time, it’s clear that the Prime Minister has also given Barzani a similar platform where he can act like the Iraqi Kurds’ commander in chief, and possibly, rally yet more Kurdish hardliners to his side.
As for the losers in this situation, what the two sides have also done with their politicking, in effect, is to inject more fear and more trouble into an already volatile territory – and especially the hotly contested, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Extremist groups with terrorist intentions look for these kinds of troubled areas in which to inflame passions further; when feelings are running as high in the disputed areas as they have been recently, it invites extremist groups to reap their own dividends – and then it is only the local people who lose.
Roman Zagros is a UK-based media analyst and former BBC editor. He also runs his own website: insightkurdistan.com