Iraqi PM Al-Maliki calls for early
elections, warns of Turkish “Plan” to divide Iraq
January 1, 2013
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki has called for
early parliamentary elections to coincide with the
scheduled provincial polls next April, a solution he
said he prefers to “sectarian conflict” and
“division”. He warned that Turkey was planning to
divide Iraq through the Kurdistan Region.
The statements came during an interview with Iraqi
Al-Sumaria TV on 30 December, in which he spoke
about a host of issues including the latest protests
in the Sunni Anbar province, Baghdad’s ongoing
security problems with the Kurdistan Region and what
he described as Turkey’s “interference” in the
He said the disputed areas will be protected by
joint Kurdish and Iraqi forces once an agreement is
reached to that effect.
“There are four options for Iraq’s crisis,” Al-Maliki
said. The first two are either to plunge into a
“sectarian conflict” or to “divide the country”.
But he added that these two options were totally
“rejected” and that he was fully behind a third
option which is to hold early parliamentary
“In April the provincial election will be held. We
can hold the parliamentary elections simultaneously;
so we can end this parliament, end this government
and this presidency and have a new presidency, new
parliament, and new government within a new
framework, which will reshuffle the posts, whereby
some will go up and others go down.”
“This is the option which we support”, he said, and
“it is the best solution for the Iraqi crisis”.
A fourth one would be to sit around the negotiating
table to have “realistic and objective” talks based
on the constitution.
He said the Sunni protesters’ demands need to be
realistic if they want the government to take them
The current negotiations with the Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG), he said, were only on the issue of
security. Relations between the two sides have been
dogged by several outstanding issues, including
disputes over oil, land and budget.
The talks come amid high tensions between Baghdad
and the KRG. Al-Maliki’s decision to set up the
Tigris Operations Command in the Kirkuk
region with the view to taking full security
responsibility in the area and following a small
clash in mid November in a town south of Kirkuk that
led both sides to deploy extra armed forces in the
region amid emotionally charged rhetoric from Al-Maliki
and Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani.
His view was that the disputed areas — which he also
at times referred to as “mixed areas” — are outside
the Kurdistan Region; hence the presence of the KRG
Peshmerga forces there is a “breach”.
He said that unless the Presidency’s bill to rectify
the governorate boundaries is approved in
parliament, these areas cannot be even considered
disputed. But the bill has not even been discussed
in the parliament yet.
“Nonetheless, to avoid a crisis and avoid harming
the Region, we have agreed to establish — in that
strip of land where the Kurdish Peshmerga forces
have been based — a zone of common security concern,
where we will conscript locals, and we will set up
checkpoints and security formations. They will
control these areas and manage them until they are
He added that a technical team had thoroughly
checked the maps to see how many checkpoints and
security centres would be required in those areas.
“But as a first stage, the joint force will be made
up of Peshmerga, police and army, until it is
possible to recruit locals.”
He said that apart from that nothing is possible and
that the Tigris Operations Command, which Kurds have
called for its abolition or any other command has
nothing to do with this matter.
He argued that other issues such as oil, airports,
border need to be resolved in line with the
constitution, and the ongoing negotiations concern
the security issue only.
He said that “if a conflict erupts this time, it
will take an ethnic dimension — that would be
difficult to control; for it would not necessarily
be a war between two forces, between the army and
the Peshmerga, but it could turn into a war between
the people. And we do not want that.”
Al-Maliki added he would exert all efforts to avoid
an armed conflict, “but if you ask me, indeed the
situation was close to erupt into a fully-fledged
fight due to some provocations; and were it not to
our effort to control it, it would have. But for now
I can say that the ghost of war is farther than it
Turkey, Kurdistan and
On Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoga’s
recent remarks saying the Iraqi government was
sectarian, he said, that Erdogan “talks a lot, and
all his talk is provocative”.
“I am certain that Turkey will disintegrate at the
hands of this man, and it will fall into pieces and
it will hurt the regional security as a whole.”
As regards Turkish oil deals with the Kurdistan
Region and a projected pipeline deal between the two
in light of a Washington Post report that said these
deals could divide Iraq, Al-Maliki said, “There is a
plan [to divide Iraq] but it will fail.”
He said that the Turkish policy has put Kurdistan in
jeopardy, and it will put Iraq in jeopardy through
“There are indeed deals; to an extent that the
Turkoman brethren [a minority Iraqi ethnic group
heavily based in Kirkuk] told us that Turkey had
told them not to oppose to the claim that Kirkuk is
a Kurdistan city. This is strange and new to Turkish
stance vis-a-vis Kirkuk… We will observe and see
what the deal is,” he said.
Regarding his meeting with ailing Iraqi President
Jalal Talabani on 17 December, hours before he was
taken ill, and rumours that it was due to an alleged
exchange of harsh words with the premier that the
president suffered a stroke,www.ekurd.net
them by saying that the talk that evening was
“It was more about relations, fraternity and the
history we share, and that we cannot jeopardize our
country for the sake of gambles and gamblers”.
He said Talabani promised him to return the visit.
The 79-year-old Talabani has been in hospital since,
first in Baghdad and then in Germany, amid reports
he was in a coma after he reportedly suffered a
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