Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in
Kurdistan to mediate crisis
April 26, 2012
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is greeted by
Iraqi Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani, Erbil,
Kurdistan region of Iraq, April 26, 2012. Photo: AFP/Safin
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Moqtada al-Sadr says he will listen to the views of
Kurdish leaders. Erbil, Kurdistan region of Iraq,
April 26, 2012. Photo: AFP/Safin Hamed.
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Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Powerful Iraqi Shiite
cleric Moqtada al-Sadr arrived in Iraq's autonomous
Kurdistan region on Thursday, presenting himself as
a mediator in a crisis between Iraq's premier and
the region's president.
Tensions are high between Kurdistan president,
Massoud Barzani, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki,
whom Barzani has accused of moving toward
"I met Nuri al-Maliki in Tehran, and I came to
listen to the opinion of the Kurdish leaders and
their views," Sadr told a news conference at Erbil
airport, after arriving on a private plane from
"Everyone should look out for the public interest
and the unity of the Iraqi people, and I hope that
everyone will be responsible," he said.
Sadr then presented a list of 18 points that he
wants to discuss with Kurdish leaders.
"Minorities are an important part of Iraq, and we
have to bring them to participate in building Iraq,
politically, economically and in security," Sadr
said, also calling for "cancelling the policy of
neglect and marginalisation."
Another point is that "we have to work to support
the Iraqi government by bringing all the components
of the Iraqi people inside it," he said.
And "we have to give priority to Iraqi interests
over sectarian and ethnic and party interests."
Sadr also said "we have to end the issue of the
security posts," meaning that permanent ministers of
security and defence must be appointed.
And "we have to stand strongly against any internal
or foreign threats against any component of the
Iraqi people," he said.
Fuad Hussein, head of the office of the presidency
in Kurdistan, said this was "a historic visit, and
it will lead to the expansion and strengthening of
the relationship between Kurdistan and all Iraq."
"It will also lead to more stability in the
political situation in the country," he told
journalists at the airport.
Sadr, who spends most of his time on religious
studies in Iran, "will meet Barzani today, and there
is a significant possibility that he will go to
Najaf after finishing his meetings in Kurdistan," a
Sadr source told AFP.
Najaf is the Shiite holy city where Sadr's main
office is located, and where he spent much of his
Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi earlier told a news
conference in Baghdad that the cleric had accepted
an invitation to visit Kurdistan, saying "the crisis
needs such a move to resolve the situation."
He added that "the sayyid (Sadr) is trying to put
Al-Ahrar (his parliamentary bloc) and himself
personally in the middle."
"One of the goals of the visit is to solve the
crisis," Obeidi said.
Barzani said on April 22 that he opposes the sale of
F-16 warplanes to Iraq while Maliki is premier, as
he fears they would be used against Kurdistan.
Barzani had previously accused Maliki of moving
toward dictatorship, and said the premier aimed to
"kill the democratic process" after the head of
Iraq's electoral commission was arrested for alleged
Earlier this month, Kurdistan stopped oil exports
over more than $1.5 billion (1.13 billion euros) it
said is owed to foreign oil companies working in the
that Baghdad has allegedly withheld.
The central government's top two oil officials
responded by saying Erbil owed Baghdad more than $5
billion in promised exports, and was smuggling the
oil it produced to Iran.
By Abdel Hamid Zebari, AFP
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