Kurds Undecided among Themselves, Despite Endorsing Iraq Cabinet

Kurds Undecided among Themselves, Despite Endorsing Iraq Cabinet

kurdsERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurds have not finalized their candidates for ministerial posts in Iraq’s new government, despite endorsing Haider al-Abadi as prime minister on Monday, a Kurdish official in Baghdad said.

The Kurdish negotiator said that Kurdish political parties have yet to agree among themselves over the positions.

Leaders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Change Movement and the two Islamic parties met in Sulaimani on Monday, hours before voting in the Shiite prime minister’s cabinet.

The head of the KDP parliamentary bloc said that the names of Kurdish candidates read in Baghdad yesterday were not final.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Islamic Union bloc in the Iraqi parliament said that the Kurds showed a very weak hand in Baghdad and their vote for Iraq’s new prime minister was conditional.

He explained that, “We voted for the new cabinet to respect the Kurdish leadership and maintain our unity.”

“We have voted for this new cabinet conditionally, and it has to make its commitment to the Kurds clear within one week,” said Muthana Amin.

He said the Kurdish leaders had voted for Abadi under pressure from the United States, Iran, and the United Nations.

But on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Region presidency dismissed claims that the Kurds had come under any pressure, particularly from the United States.

Also on Tuesday Barham Salih, the former prime minister of Kurdistan and a prominent leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), criticized al-Abadi’s cabinet formation without the presence of Kurdish MPs in Baghdad.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Salih said there was an important change from four years ago, when the Kurds were formally asked in Erbil to initiate the process of forming the government.

He said the change is directly linked to aggregated internal issues in Kurdistan which must be resolved, including the unification of Kurdish Peshmerga forces under a single command.

Western leaders, including US President Barack Obama, had been insisting on a new government in Baghdad ever since last June, when Islamic State militants began a military advance that has seen large parts of northern territories fall into their hands.

Obama, who is to unveil the US war strategy against IS forces in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, had stressed there must be a government in place in Baghdad before Washington intensifies military support for Iraqi and Kurdish forces against the IS armies.