Kurds Agree to New Iraq Government, Opening Door to US War Strategy

Kurds Agree to New Iraq Government, Opening Door to US War Strategy


kurdsBAGHDAD, Iraq – Embattled Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds cobbled together a last-minute government on Monday, as Washington said it needed an administration in place immediately before stepping up its role in the war.

Saleh al-Muttlaq , a Sunni, and Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, were sworn in as deputies to the Shiite Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, in a power-sharing deal that broke weeks of deadlock.

Iraq’s Kurdish president also received two vice presidents, the outgoing Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the former Sunni parliament speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi. The presidency and vice presidencies are largely ceremonial posts.

During an uproarious and late night session, lawmakers still failed to agree on who would sit in the sensitive defense and security posts, with Abadi promising to have them filled within a week.

The Kurdish bloc made its participation in the new government conditional, saying all of the Kurdistan Region’s lagging and serious issues with Baghdad must be resolved within three months.

The Kurds also demanded an immediate resumption of payments from the national budget, which Baghdad has withheld for more than nine months, after the Kurds said they were beginning independent oil exports that the central government called “illegal.”

The new government came at the very end of a constitutional deadline. It comes just before US President Barack Obama is set to unveil Wednesday the US strategy to roll back Islamic State (IS/formerly ISIS) jihadis from the vast territories they have captured in Iraq and Syria.

The latest negotiations over forming a government had snagged on Saturday, with Kurdish leaders saying it was mainly over the Kurdish issues.

Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Arab League urged members for a “comprehensive confrontation” against the IS.
Nabil al-Arabi told the Cairo meeting that member states must make a “clear and firm decision for a comprehensive confrontation” with “cancerous and terrorist” groups.
In the fighting in Iraq on Monday, government forces said they had cleared IS militants from a wide area around the strategic Haditha dam, backed by US air strikes that Obama authorized last month.
Troops and militia also recaptured Barwana, east of Haditha, with reports saying IS fighters had abandoned weapons and vehicles and were in retreat.