Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Time to start talking about a regional crisis?

In Iraq, the political crisis continues; however, it may be overshadowed by the regional crisis Nouri has created.  Tariq Alhomayed (Al Arabiya) offers this assessment:

With regards to Iraq, al-Maliki is profoundly at odds with the Sunnis, and wants to imprison his deputy, Tareq al-Hashemi. He has also clashed with the Kurds, as well as the Sadrists loyal to Iran, and even with [Abdulaziz] al-Hakim. He is also got involved in an intense dispute with the Iraqiya bloc, led by Dr. Iyad Allawi. So what left for Mr. al-Maliki after all this? Regionally, and in terms of the Arab world, al-Maliki does not have any normal relations with the influential Arab countries of the region, or any countries in the region for that matter, with the exception of Iran. Al-Maliki has launched attacks on Saudi Arabia in language not worthy of a diplomat, let alone a Prime Minister, and he has done the same with Qatar, and now with Turkey! This is not all of course, as al-Maliki is also the one who said: “the [al-Assad] regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?”, despite all that the Baathist tyrant of Damascus has done to the Syrian people. Iraq is now creating passageways to help the al-Assad regime by transferring weapons and money and smuggling oil. So what left after all this? How can al-Maliki say that Turkey is a hostile country, inciting sectarianism in Iraq, while Tehran launches an attack on [Massoud] Barzani, on the eve of al-Maliki’s visit to Iran, and also accuses al-Hashemi of wanting to restore Sunni rule in Iraq with the support of Saudi Arabia?

And Nouri's stepped in it again prompting State of Law (his political slate) surrogates to rush to the media to play another round of When Nouri Said ____, He Meant ___.  Nouri's called for a federation of Iraq and Iran.  No surprise, that call has alarmed many Iraqis.  Al Rafidayn quotes a State of Law-er insisting Nouri was using a metaphor.  (Ask Nouri to define "metaphor" and, if he can do that, I might believe it.)   Iraq has good relations with Iran, insists Nouri's surrogates, but they do not want to jeopardize their relationship with others. Alsumaria also carries the we-don't-really-want-a-federation-despite-what-Nouri-said story.  Nouri just wrapped up a visit to Tehran, one would assume he could speak plainly.  To listen to State of Law, that's not the case.

The World Bulletin notes Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, has rejected Nouri al-Maliki's accusations that Turkey is interfering in Iraq's internal affairs and quotes Davutoglu stating, "Turkey's Iraq policy is quite clear and we have been a direct part of any controversy in Iraq.  We want that all our Iraqi brothers, Shiites, Sunnis, Turkmens, Arabs and Kurds live in peace and in prosperity."  Turkey's one of Iraq's largest regional trading partners.  This war he's declared on Turkey really doesn't help Iraq nor does it improve relations with the Arabic states (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc) that Nouri's already on shaky ground with.

 Tony Karon (Time) notes:

And these days, it’s not only Iraqi politicians that are courting the Kurds. Turkey last week feted Barzani in Ankara, rolling out the red carpet and affording him a meeting with Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and he recently returned from a visit to Washington D.C. where he met with senior Administration officials. Those visits seemed to amplify Barzani’s defiance of Baghdad in a dispute over oil revenues, with the KRG prime minister accusing Maliki of paving the way for a return to dictatorship, and warning that absent “radical solutions and a specific time-frame to resolve the present crisis … we will resort to other decisions” -- a not-so-veiled threat to declare independence from Iraq.
Independence, of course, remains the historical goal of Kurdish Iraqis, and a referendum on the issue staged in 2005 saw some 98% vote to break away from Iraq. Geopolitical realities, however, has required a curbing of that popular sentiment. Iraqi Kurdistan is small and landlocked, and while it possesses significant oil reserves, it would require the cooperation of one of its powerful neighbors --Turkey, Iran or Iraq -- to pipe that oil to market. Also, the KRG was carved out in large part because the U.S., which had just overthrown Saddam Hussein, helped ensure its emergence, but made clear it was not ready to support a breakup of Iraq.

And before you e-mail here to ask about it, Karon is wrong in the paragraph before the excerpt (which is why we didn't include that paragraph), Massoud Barzani is the President of the KRG.  He is not the Prime Minister.   His nephew Nechervan Idris Barzani is the KRG Prime Minister.

Moving quickly because the hearing's started (opening statements), Al Rafidayn reports that it's been decided to open up 50% of Baghdad's main streets over the next 45 days due to traffic congestion and other issues.  Dar Addustour notes there is some concern that barriers that have protected various political party offices may also be lifted. 

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