KRG Prime Minister Breaks Ice in Baghdad

KRG Prime Minister Breaks Ice in Baghdad



Hopes were not high for Prime Minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani’s visit to  Baghdad. The potential of this visit to soothe the escalating tensions between  the federal government and the Kurdistan region, as well as the rest of Iraq’s  crises, was questioned.

The visit, however, surpassed all expectations when an agreement on solving  thorny problems between both parties through laws and the constitution was  announced by the Iraqi government following the meeting between Iraqi Prime  Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Barzani.

At the same time, discussions focused on the necessity of putting security  concerns at the heart of the relationship between both parties and enacting the  law on oil and gas that has been delayed for years.

At first glance, the terminology used in the statement and the announcement  of the spokesman for the government, Ali Musawi, about setting up a joint  committee between both parties to settle disputes seems like a repeat of previous,  futile meetings that did not contribute to placating the crisis. Yet facts and  data reveal that young Barzani, who is widely described as a skillful  negotiator, had succeeded previously in breaking the historical ice between the  Kurds and Turkey, and did actually succeed this time, as well as in shaking off  the stagnation with Baghdad.

The new agreement, nonetheless, does not live up to being a comprehensive  solution, yet it comes at a delicate time, when the crisis between the  government on the one hand, and Sunni tribes and political powers on the other,  has reached the level of clashes. In this regard, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi set forth  an initiative that calls for early elections supervised by a reduced government  that is not entitled to take part in elections after the current government  resigns. Barzani, who met with Nujaifi during his visit, must have discussed  this suggestion  with him as part of choosing between two major  choices.

The first is heading toward early elections under the supervision of the  current government in a caretaker capacity, which means that the sectarian,  national Iraqi crisis will be spelled out in electoral votes. In this sense, the  upcoming parliament will be the product of divisions in Iraq and an additional  reason for escalation in the future. Another possibility, which is more  promising, is that of drawing up a new political map, similar to the case of  provincial elections, which will witness the emergence of new powers, rendering  the traditional powers less effective.

The second is solving the current crisis with the current parliament and  with current prominent politicians prior to the upcoming elections, even it  requires postponement. Such a choice prompts two hypotheses: The first sees that  Iraqis will reward the political class for finding a solution and will re-elect  it. The second believes that finding a solution to the crisis will pull out from  under the feed of the current politicians one of the most important elements of  their survival and charisma, which was not founded on achievements, but rather  on sectarian and national divisions.

Apart from these choices, the visit of Barazani has opened the door wide to  look into two peaceful solutions for the Iraqi crisis that had swiftly been  heading toward bloodshed and civil war.

Saving Iraq is no walk in the park and does not only need goodwill; it also  requires skillful leadership capable of reversing the catastrophic odds and  transforming them into safer possibilities.

There is a common belief in Baghdad that the current political circle is not  capable of acting decisively and making important decisions, such as holding a  comprehensive national meeting and solving thorny issues. The political class  will proceed in using the crisis in its political and electoral favor.

The outcome of Barzani’s visit to Baghdad, however, seems to open the doors  for hope, contrary to that common belief.