New War of Words Between Baghdad and Erbil

21/03/2012 05:14:00

BAGHDAD – A war of words has been raging in the media between Iraqi and Kurdish political groups.

Recent statements by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani angered many politicians, in particular legislative officials in the Iraqi government. In a speech at the Kurdish Youth Conference last week, Barzani said…

that the region would not hand over Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, wanted by Baghdad on charges of involvement in terrorism, to Iraq judicial authorities.

Barzani said Hashimi is still the vice president of the republic.

In response to Barzani’s comments, Yasin Majid, an MP from Prime Minister Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, said in a speech to the House of Representatives that Barzani wants to tell the world that he is the “defender of the Sunni Arabs.”

“Does Kurdish morality allow hosting individuals accused of killing innocent civilians?” Majid said.

Barzani criticized the current administration in Baghdad, describing them as “losers who have not provided for the Iraqi people.”

He said that the government in Baghdad was the outcome of sacrifice and that Kurds are “partners in Baghdad and do not accept the government telling them what to do and what not to do.”

Kamal Saadi, an MP from the prime minister’s bloc, called Barzani’s remarks “irresponsible.”

“If Barzani had something to discuss, he should not have resorted to the media as a means of criticizing the government,” Saadi said. “There are private channels which are generally accepted by leaders of the political process, and far removed from defamation and impulses.”

Some observers believe such a war of words may further escalate the political crisis Iraq is already mired in.

Abdulamir Sultan, a political analyst, told Rudaw, “These statements do not serve the interests of the people, especially since Iraq is now in a phase of rehabilitation and integration with the world.”

Sultan said that with the Arab Summit in Baghdad at the end of the month, the timing of this kind of statement is detrimental.

“The convulsive statements between the various parties have weakened the Iraqi position and do not serve the  interests of the people,” he said.

“These statements will create a rift that would be difficult to repair, and we do not need a new crisis,” Sultan added.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ayad Alawi’s Iraqiya bloc threatened to walk out of parliament in opposition to PM Maliki’s dominance. But Sultan believes these threats only prove the Iraqiya bloc’s failure in its politics.

“I think that Iraqiya bloc lacks unity in the political discourse in dealing with crisis,” he said. “It withdrew its ministers from the government after the issue of al-Hashimi, and later sent them back. Now it wants to withdraw them again. What will they get from all this? ”

On the streets of Baghdad, people have a different view. They think the country’s politicians are preoccupied with matters that are irrelevant to their lives.

“What preoccupies the politicians are the narrow interests of their political blocs,” says Hazem Abdel Nabi, a writer and poet in Baghdad. “I think that all disputes between politicians today are a struggle for survival in order to achieve party gains for the blocs that serve their interests best. We have not witnessed anything that gives us the impression that politicians are interested in the country and its citizens, nothing at all.”

Natiq Saeed al-Zaidi, a professor of political science at the University of Mustansiriya, thinks that Iraq’s political groups should come together and host a successful Arab Summit in order to improve Iraq’s image in the eyes of the world.

“I think it is futile to continue in this state of misery experienced by the political reality,” he says. “We, as a people of one Iraq, need to come together and unite the political blocs to appear before the world in a bright and honorable way, and Iraq’s hosting the event is very important not only at the Arab level, but the whole world will be present through the European Union and the Organization of African Unity and the Organization of Islamic Conference.”