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The Fault With Washington
By Harvey Morris
It has become a cliché in US political circles to describe the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as one of America’s few true allies in a hostile region.
LONDON – From the perspective of the Kurds of Iraq, the United States too often appears to behave like one of those unreliable friends who only deigns to call when he needs a favour but somehow never gets around to returning one.
It has become a cliché in US political circles to describe the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as one of America’s few true allies in a hostile region. It is recognized that Southern Kurdistan is one of a diminishing number of places in the Middle East where Americans can feel not only safe but also welcome.
And yet any sign that Kurds might be putting their own interests first is invariably met with an admonishing finger-wag from Washington rather than a sympathetic ear.
Take the on-going dispute between Erbil and Baghdad over Kurdish oil exports to Turkey and over the KRG’s share of the Iraqi national budget.
Washington expressed almost as much indignation as Baghdad over the KRG’s unilateral oil deals and mounted a diplomatic drive to try to block direct exports from Kurdistan.
It was only when Washington contemplated the destabilising threat of the sectarian violence in Iraq’s Anbar province in January that Joe Biden, the vice-president, found time to pick up the phone to call Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani and urge him to reach a solution with Baghdad on energy exports and revenue sharing.
That appeal at least had the virtue of being consistent with the over-riding priority of US policy in Iraq, which is to maintain the unity of the state, however dysfunctional, rather than confront the imponderables of its disintegration.
The very act of reaching out to the Kurds in time of need fit in with the policy of successive US administrations that have tended to take them for granted as allies of convenience while carefully avoiding any commitment to their long-term national aspirations.
That is not surprising. The United States has a record of adopting – and then dumping – the Kurdish cause, dating back to President Woodrow Wilson’s failure to deliver on his promise of a Kurdish state in the wake of World War I.
There are nevertheless signs that Kurdish leaders are becoming impatient with a one-sided relationship between the superpower and the KRG, which rates merely as a “non-state entity” in US diplomatic parlance.
When President Barzani cancelled a planned visit to Washington this month, KRG officials revealed that this apparent snub to President Barack Obama was linked to Washington’s failure to remove a legal anomaly that continues to include his Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan on a terrorism blacklist.
It was perhaps intended as a signal that Kurdish friendship towards America and support for its policies in the region should not be taken for granted.
The controversy has not gone unnoticed in the United States. In a February 15 editorial, entitled “Open the door to the Kurds,” the Washington Post said that the escalating violence in Iraq and Syria had enhanced the importance of America’s Kurdish ally.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, which controls an autonomous enclave bordering Iran, Turkey and Syria, is democratic, secular, pro-Western and a determined enemy of the al-Qaeda forces that operate on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border,” according to the Post’s editorial board.
Citing the blacklisting issue as an “enduring irritant in the US-Kurdish relationship,” it said President Barzani’s abrupt decision to postpone his Washington trip was a cause for concern.
The Post highlighted the absurdity of a sanction that related to past Kurdish resistance to the regime of Saddam Hussein and concluded: “What’s clear is that the impasse is damaging an important US relationship at a critical moment — and that the fault lies entirely in Washington.”
Disgruntled PUK Chiefs Stay Away From Party Meetings, Hold Separate Talks
PUK deputies Barham Salih and Kosrat Rasul Ali were not at the meeting.
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The political bureau of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) met twice last week to discuss the party’s latest internal disputes, but without the two deputy chiefs who are in serious agreement with the other leaders. The meetings took place on two separate days in PUK’s stronghold of Sulaimani, according to an official statement. It said that the main focus of the meeting was PUK’s preparations for the coming Iraqi elections in April and the post of the party’s two deputy chiefs. The deputies, Barham Salih and Kosrat Rasul Ali, were not at the meeting.
The PUK statement made no mention of the internal disputes. It only listed other national issues that were discussed, such as “the elections, formation of the Kurdish government and the threat of terrorism to the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq.” It said that the leaders had approved their party’s election commission on their campaign agenda, which would include “raising people’s living standards, social insurance and unemployment benefits.” The PUK leaders at the meeting also said they would do their best to ensure that a new government is formed. On Saturday, it was reported that the PUK and other parties had agreed on all the major posts, disagreement over which was blamed for part of the delay in forming a government five months after the Kurdish elections.
According to the agreements, the interior ministry will reportedly go to the Change Movement (Gorran) while the Peshmarga and Finance ministries will be headed by the PUK. Meanwhile, the statement said that the PUK appreciates the criticism and recommendations of its members for party reform. “We assure PUK members and supporters that we will spare no effort to solve our internal issues,” read the statement. “Finding a solution is a historic responsibility and all should act responsibly to reach a successful outcome for all.” In a separate move Salih and Ali, who stayed away from the Sulaimani meetings, held their own talks with some senior PUK leaders in Erbil to explain their views on the party’s internal disputes since the dismal results of the September 21 elections.
“Kosrat Rasul and Barham Salih spoke openly of PUK’s internal problems and they say they have submitted a proposal to the political bureau and are awaiting a response,” one PUK official who attended the Erbil meeting told Rudaw. He said that Qubad Talabani, the son of ailing and absent PUK leader Jalal Talabani, chose to attend the Erbil meeting. The official added that Qubad’s attendance was to give weight to the views of the two deputy chiefs, who are adamant about reform and change within the party.
As a condition for auction participation all banks must deposit money to Central Bank of Iraq
23 Feb 2014
The Central Bank’s decision to compel banks to deposit all their money at the Central Bank as a condition for its entry in the auction Exchange, has led to the rise of the dollar is suspicious.
Member of parliamentary Committee for economy and investment Deputy Aziz Sharif al-mayahi, said that the Central Bank actions intended for the demolition of the domestic economy, warning of the East Bowl Mayor Abdel Basset Turki to Parliament if that policy.
In a statement, he told, “Decision of the Central Bank to require banks to deposit all their money at the Central Bank as a condition for its entry in the auction Exchange, the results clearly reflect the high price of the dollar raises suspicion,” adding that “we warned earlier of the seriousness of the present resolution.”
He said that “the Central Bank did not provide any logical justification for this decision as the damage the Iraqi dinar against the dollar and this is reflected in the local market, merchants and banks alike will be overshadowed if that policy in the near term on food”.
Lacey said that the “decision of the Central Bank either ill-advised or aims to hit the local currency market to service beneficiaries lanarfha all this in its entirety from section destroyed the economy”, stating that “the insistence on the Vandal will propel us to wire every legal means to stop it, including a request to the Presidency of the Parliament in order to call the Governor of the Central Bank to provide his pushes and his excuses for what happens.”
Earlier, Iraqi central bank has decided not to allow banks to enter the currency market only on condition that put their money in the Bank.
Iraqi Officials Deny Cizire Delegation’s Reports about Talks in Baghdad
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The foreign minister of the Cizire Canton, declared in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) last month, says he held positive talks with Iraqi officials about opening the Tel Kocer border crossing, but senior officials in Baghdad denied any knowledge of meetings or the visit itself.
"On the commercial level, Baghdad has given us some promises and its decision that we will meet with the officials in Baghdad to reach an agreement over opening the Tel Kocer border crossing between Rojava and Iraq," said Salih Gido, the Cizire Canton foreign minister.
He said his meetings were “more commercial,” and that he had met no political official in Baghdad.
In mid-February, Gido and two deputies arrived on their first diplomatic visit to the autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, hoping to improve ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi Kurdish parties.
The KRG and its dominant component, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), refused meeting with Gido, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Change Movement (Gorran) and other parties received the Rojava delegation in Sulaimani.
The KRG has consistently reaffirmed it would not recognize the declaration of autonomy in Rojava by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on grounds that it has been unilateral and sidelines other Kurdish groups, some of them backed by the KRG.
The KDP has been a traditional rival of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the force behind the PYD.
According to Rudaw sources, Gido and his delegation visited Baghdad after being disappointed at the cold reception by the KRG.
The Iraqi minister of foreign affairs, Hoshyar Zebari, said he did not have knowledge of Gido’s visit to Baghdad. “I am not aware of this matter and have no any information about the trip of this delegation to Baghdad” Zebari, who is a Kurd, told Rudaw.
Ali Moussawi, media adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, also rejected claims that Iraqi officials had met with the Cizire delegation, stressing that Baghdad did not know about the visit and that it opposed dealings with the cantons.
The PYD's self-declared cantons in Rojava are under heavy political and economic pressure within Syria, mainly because the group’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), is at war with Islamist forces involved in the Syrian civil war.
Regionally, the PYD has failed to forge alliances because the KRG and Turkey have refused to deal with the PYD.
Earlier this month, Gido declared he would embark on a major diplomatic mission to neighboring countries to improve relations with Iraq, Turkey and Iran in a bid to open borders and ease a trade and diplomatic siege.
Gido, who is the head of the Kurdish Democratic Left Party, was a member of the Kurdish National Council (KNC), a grouping of Syrian Kurdish parties. However, his party was expelled from the KNC after he was appointed foreign minister of the Cizire Canton.
House Speaker is requested to perpetuate dialogues between Baghdad and Arbil
BAGHDAD / NINA / The MP, of Fadhelah ( virtue ), Susan al-Saad said that" there is an agreement between the political blocs to authorize House Speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi to perpetuate dialogues between the Governments of the center and the Kurdistan region to get to a common format to facilitate budget bill the next week."
She confirmed in a press statement today, " the existence of an agreement in the Presidency of the Council of Representatives with the heads of political blocs in today's meeting to include the social protection and labor laws on the agenda of tomorrow and request the President of the House of Representatives to perpetuate dialogues and discussions with the governments of the center and the province to get to a common format to facilitate reading Budget Law next week. "
It is mentioned that a meeting was held in the House of Representatives today included the Presidency of the Council of Representatives and the heads of the blocs and heads of parliamentary committees, aiming to reach an agreement to end the boycotting of some political blocs to the Council of Representatives .
Any attempt to postpone elections is a coup against constitution and the will of Iraqis
BAGHDAD / NINA / MP, of the Ahrar bloc, Bahaa al-Araji said: "any attempt to postpone the parliamentary elections will be considered as a coup against the Constitution and against the will of the Iraqi people."
He said in a press statement : "any party cannot postpone the parliamentary elections , but with the approval of the House of Representatives ."
He added : "The majority of the political blocs in the House of Representatives are agreed on holding the elections as scheduled . And if any party tried to postpone it , even the government , it means a coup against the constitution and a coup against the will of the Iraqi people."
He continued: "We should all have to make Iraq victorious in the upcoming parliamentary elections , through the change that all Iraqi people aspire to," pointing out that " those who do not want this change are working against the will of the Iraqi people and this is a dictatorship ."
Chaldean Patriarch calls for Christians to stay in Iraq.
Kirkuk / Nina /-- Chaldean Patriarch in Iraq and the world , Dr. Raphael 1st Louis Sako called on Iraq's Christians to stay in their country not to emigrate.
Raphael 1st Sako said in a statement on the occasion of the onset of Lent : "The identity of Christianity is rooted deep in Iraq's history and geography since two thousand years stressing that If Christians immigrate Iraq they will be cut of their origins ," adding : "The adherence to the land of faith and patriotism require stability and resilience.
KRG calls Religious Authorities, UN to interfere to settle crisis of Budget Law with CG
Monday, 24 February 2014 10:21
Erbil (AIN) -Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government, held a meeting with all the Kurdish blocs of the Iraqi parliament, the head of the blocs of the Kurdistan Parliament and the Kurdish ministers of Al-Maliki's cabinet to discuss all the pending issue between Erbil and Baghdad regarding budget and KRG's oil export.
A statement by the PUK reviewed by All Iraq News Agency cited "It has been stated in the announcement that Kurdistan Region is constitutionally part of Iraq and has all the rights reserved to exercise its rights and duties that is given in the constitution, including receiving 17% share of Iraqi budget. Therefore, it is unacceptable to use the lives and the budget of citizens in Kurdistan Region as a pressure card."
"The announcement insisted on continuing the Erbil-Baghdad negotiations and meetings based on what is written in the Iraqi constitution, despite having other alternatives to provide salaries and needs of its own citizens," the statement added.
"The announcement calls Al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, to change his illegal and unconstitutional politics as well as send the budget and salaries of the Kurdistan Region as it is a constitutional right to have it," the statement continued.
The statement assured "The message also demands Al-Maliki to solve Erbil-Baghdad outstanding issues through discussions and negotiations with KRG."
"The announcement concluded by asking the religious clerics, United Nations, the Arab league countries, and the Islamic countries convention to act and use their authority to put more pressure on the Iraqi federal government to release the economic sanctions on KRG and the people of the region because what is currently occurring is against the constitution, laws, all the international agreements and the very basic human rights," the statement concluded.