New Parliament Speaker: Iraq ‘Cannot be Divided’

New Parliament Speaker: Iraq ‘Cannot be Divided’

dividedJabouri was elected last week as Iraqi MPs and politicians grapple with a country in upheaval. Photo: AP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The new speaker of the Iraqi parliament said in a televised interview that “Kurds believe in the constitution” and the country “cannot be divided.”

Salim al-Jabouri also told Arabic Sky News that that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki remaining in office for a third run is only a “weak possibility.”

Jabouri, who was elected last week as Iraqi MPs and politicians grapple with a country in upheaval, acknowledged: “there are some issues which need to be resolved” between the central government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region.

But the speaker, who has visited the Kurdistan Region to discuss the crisis, emphasized: “Kurds believe in the constitution, and Iraq is a united country which cannot be divided.”

Iraq has been reeling in turmoil since jihadi-led rebels began an advance that has ignited a Sunni rebellion and seen a third of the country taken over by the fighters.

The Kurds, who blame Maliki and his insistence on staying for a third term for the crisis, have said that if he remains, they go. Early this month Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani called on the Kurdish parliament to fix a date for an independence referendum.

Jabouri’s election was seen as a step toward forming a government. By political agreement the prime minister has been a Shiite, the parliament speaker a Sunni and the president a Kurd. The Kurds are reportedly finalizing their candidate for president.

However, without mentioning Maliki specifically, Jabouri said that, “Some figures in the coalition have low chances of getting this post (premiership).

He warned that the current situation in Iraq is “very complicated,” and said he was ready to talk with all sides to “end the issues.”

Commenting on how the insurgents were able to conquer so much territory within weeks, Jabouri said they had popular support.

“Many terrorist groups were helped by people from some areas. Some of these people are old, some are young and some are calling for a revolution,” he said in the interview.

“Terrorists should not be offered more opportunity, so that their hands will not be bloodier than they already are,” said Jabouri, who is the youngest speaker in Iraq’s history.