Barzani insistent on ousting Maliki, claims enough votes

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud Barzani is making new claims that 170 Iraqi deputies have signed a petition to call for a vote of no confidence, which would be enough to topple Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In a status update on his Facebook page on Monday, Barzani stated that “efforts to remove Maliki in a constitutional way are ongoing,” responding to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who said Maliki’s opponents had failed to muster enough support, claiming that the petition had less than 170 signatures, to bring him down in a vote of no confidence. Talabani’s refusal to ratify the campaign of no confidence against Maliki was a setback for the anti-Maliki opposition, but there are other ways in the Iraqi constitution for them to bring this campaign to parliament.

“There are 170 signatures at hand [for a vote of no confidence]. We will give support with all our power to those forces that want to block the way of dictatorship,” Barzani said, expressing no support for the actions which would entangle the future of the Kurdish population in Iraq.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also agreed with Barzani in his remarks on Monday, maintaining that the efforts for sending Maliki out of office have not ended, but rather that there is a new beginning. Sadr’s remarks came after Maliki claimed that “the crisis,” which could have replaced him, is over and “revenge” would be sought from those that signed the petition to call for a vote of no confidence. Sadr emphasized that he is not for the dissolution of the National Alliance coalition — the biggest coalition in the Iraqi parliament — or for rearranging the government, saying that he just wants Maliki to be replaced.

Among the opponents of Maliki, Shiites accuse him of monopolizing power while Sunnis believe that Maliki is targeting their leaders with politically motivated prosecutions and Kurds think that Maliki is hostile to their northern autonomy. Maliki’s order to issue an arrest warrant for the top Sunni leader in the government, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, has intensified the accusations against the prime minister of trying to establish a Shiite dictatorship.

So far, Turkey has helped solve political rifts in Iraq while warning Maliki that his actions could deepen such rifts. Barzani joined Turkey’s concerns on the issue, providing refuge to Hashemi in Arbil, the capital of the KRG, until April, to avoid prosecution at the hands of the Baghdad government.

Turkey’s messages on establishing a system embracing all sects and ethnicities in Iraq have created a disturbance on the side of Maliki. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has traded tit-for-tat criticisms and accusations with Maliki several times this year. Last month Erdoğan accused Maliki of fanning tensions between Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Kurds in Iraq through “self-centered” behavior. Maliki quickly responded that Turkey was becoming a “hostile state” with a sectarian agenda, saying it was meddling in Iraqi affairs and trying to establish regional “hegemony.”