Iraq calls on Kurdistan to hand over heavy weapons 30.4.2012

'Kurdistan's heavy weapons pose threat to Iraq'

April 30, 2012

BAGHDAD,— Iraqi authorities have called on the autonomous Kurdistan Region to hand over heavy weaponry it seized after the fall of former dictator Saddam Hussein, Iranian Press TV reported.

Sami al-Askari, who is a lawmaker and a close aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said Saturday the Iraqi Constitution does not allow local governments to possess heavy weapons.

He demanded the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to give up its tanks and warplanes if it intends to remain within a united Iraq.

Earlier Kurdish military authorities approved the possession of every type of weapons by the northern Iraq region.

They say the Iraqi Constitution has not specified the types of arms Kurds can possess.

Reports say That Iraq’s Kurdish region has a large fleet of Russian-made warplanes left over from the Saddam-era.

They are now reaching out to Western parties to learn how to use the aircraft.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Sa’ad al-Motallebi, member of the State of Law Coalition, to share his opinion on this issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Well let us start from the beginning. Why would the Kurds really need this heavy weaponry from the beginning and do you think that they would actually abide by a request from Baghdad?

Al-Motallebi: It is quite ambiguous or really very obscure reasons but what we are worried about is the possession of such arms and artillery and heavy ammunition that could be used by terrorist factions that are under the Kurdish name and participate in unrest in neighboring countries.

There is the chance, there is the opportunity, there is the possibility of these weapons reaching the hands of terrorists that may endanger the Iranian border or the Turkish border which will put Iraq in a very awkward position with its northern and eastern neighbor.

Since we have the central government, have no control on such weapons and the position of those weapons and we do not know where they are and why and how they are being used, the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands remains a big threat, remains a real threat and remains a big worry for Iraq that it may be used deliberately to endanger Iraq relationship with its neighboring countries.

The matter of trust between the local governments in Kurdistan and the federal government, that is a matter of a political bargaining because as everybody knows the President of Iraq is a Kurdish, the Vice Chairman for the parliament is Kurdish, Vice Deputy, the Deputy Prime Minister is Kurdish, the head of the staff in the Ministry of Defense is Kurdish, Head of Security is Kurdish, Head of Intelligence or Deputy Head of Intelligence is Kurdish so the Kurds are entwined within the Constitution and within the central government.

So the idea of that central government attacking Kurdistan by using Kurdish leadership in Baghdad, that is completely a ridiculous view and ridiculous idea and to me that sounds like an argument that somebody is hiding something behind and trying not to tell the truth.

Press TV: Well Mr. al-Motallebi how confident are you that the central government will be able to actually ensure that the Kurds will be disarmed or if they voluntarily give the weapons? How confident are you that this will happen?

Al-Motallebi: Not at all. Without the regional help and without a correct and proper dialogue in Baghdad and without being honest about these issues I doubt that the central government is in a position to force the Kurds to handover their weapons.

Their reason, we still yet do not understand the reason why they accumulated such a vast arsenal and we again do not understand the reason why they have been asking international countries into adding into their arsenal.

A number of ambassadors and the states have informed us that they have received a list of medium and heavy weapons request from the Kurdish government and these European states have informed us and gave us the list.

Press TV: I want to look at exactly what you have just said about they are asking international entities to arm them. What about those international entities? What right do these other countries have in arming a part of Iraq itself because technically the Kurdistan of course is still under the ruling of the central government? So what right does other countries have in actually arming a part of your country?

Al-Motallebi: That is exactly true. They have no right to do so. Therefore they have informed the central government in Baghdad. They said we have received such request from Kurdistan and they said that we refused to offer them the guns and the heavy machinery and they informed the central government of this and the central government of course enforced the idea that any military deal must pass through Baghdad first. Any province has no right in purchasing any type of weapons let alone heavy guns and heavy machinery.