Major Differences Persist in Talks with Baghdad, Kurdish Officials Say
11/01/2013 04:08:00By HEVIDAR AHMAD
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Major differences persist in talks between Baghdad and Erbil on resolving tense territorial differences that have ignited a military stand-off for weeks between the Shiite central government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region in the north, Kurdish officials said.
They said Baghdad wants to limit talks on the vast tracts of disputed territories claimed by both sides only to Kirkuk province, it still does not agree on who should maintain security there and no longer wants American representatives present during the bilateral negotiations.
“In general, the response from Baghdad to the Kurdish demands was good this time,” but there are still major disagreements on both sides, said Halgurd Hikmat, spokesman of the Peshmarga ministry in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), who has been part of the delegation negotiating with Baghdad over the past several months.
He said that in the third round of talks on Wednesday, the military delegation from Baghdad had presented a plan in which Kirkuk was indicated as the only disputed province. He said the Kurdish side had reiterated that the disputed territories range from Khanaqin to Zumar.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which outlines steps that would ultimately determine whether a local administration or Baghdad governs vast tracts of disputed lands, has been the core issue between the KRG and the central government, with the Kurds insisting that 43 percent of Iraqi Kurdistan falls under the disputed territories.
In an interview with Al Sumaria news last week Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Shia-led government is locked in the military stand-off with the Kurds on the one hand and is grappling with mass protests by Sunnis complaining of neglect and discrimination on the other, said that the constitutional article makes no mention of any disputed territories except Kirkuk.
“It is true the article says Kirkuk and other disputed territories, but no other place has been named so no one has the right to decide which place is disputed territory,” Maliki said in the interview.
Hassan Jihad, an MP from the Kurdistan Alliance bloc in the Iraqi parliament, accused Maliki of creating confusion over Article 140.
“Maliki is making a fool of himself by saying Kirkuk is the only place mentioned in Article 140, because there are designated offices for Article 140 in every city that fall under the article,” he said.
Jabar Yawar, another Peshmarga official who was part of the Kurdish delegation at the talks, told reporters that at their last meeting Baghdad had suggested a plan for the withdrawal of Peshmarga forces in the disputed territories, but had also insisted on the authority of Baghdad’s own Dijla forces there.
The simmering dispute between the two sides flared after Maliki sent in the controversial Dijla forces to take charge of security in Kirkuk, and the KRG countered in November by deploying thousands of Peshmarga fighters.
Hikmat said that during the meeting the Kurds had rejected borders, drawn by the Iraqi delegation in disputed territories, where the Peshmarga could not trespass.
“We are currently studying their suggestions in order to prepare an answer for the next meeting” on Sunday, he added.
“The Iraqi delegation demanded the withdrawal of Peshmarga forces in Hamrin as well, but the Kurdish delegation replied that Iraqi troops must first withdraw, then Peshmarga will do so,” said Hikmat.
Jihad, the MP, expressed doubt that the meetings would end with any solutions.
“An agreement is not easy to reach, because the Kurds demand the dissolution of the Dijla Operations Command, whereas Baghdad demands the withdrawal of Peshmarga forces in the disputed territories. None of these demands is easy to implement by either side,” he said.
Another disagreement has been over whether representatives from the United States, whose forces set up a joint security mechanism in the disputed territories before pulling out at the end of 2011, should continue to attend the Baghdad-Erbil talks.
“Due to the Kurdish request Americans participated in the latest meeting,” Hikmat said, adding that the presence of the US was important as an impartial party that offered useful suggestions.
Anti-Kurd Attacks Down in Diyala As Kurds and Sunnis Unite Against Maliki
11/01/2013 03:57:00By NAWZAD MAHMOOD
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Terrorist attacks against Kurds in Jalawla and Saadiya in Diyala province have recently decreased, a Kurdish official said, as Kurds and Sunni Arabs find themselves on the same side in opposition to Iraq’s Shia-led government.
“The past week’s attacks mostly targeted the Sunni Arabs rather than the Kurds,” Kamaran Muhammad, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) branch in Jalawla, told Rudaw.
In the past six days, Sunni Arabs have been targeted, killed, and arrested by unknown groups in Jalawla, he added. “The Sunnis are now focusing on a different enemy,” he said.
Jalawla and Saddiya are part of the disputed areas that are claimed by both the Kurds and Arabs. The area has been a hotbed of tensions and attacks against Kurds.
Since 2005, terrorist groups have targeted Kurds in Jalawla, officials said. As a result, 450 Kurds have been killed and more than 3,000 families were forced to leave their homes.
Jamal Akbar, the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headquarters in Jalawla, said that Kurds in the area had not joined recent Sunni-led protests against the Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, but had shown support for some Sunni demands.
“Since we have been engaged in talks with the Sunni tribal leaders indirectly, the attacks against the Kurds have considerably decreased,” Akbar said.
Maliki’s Shia-Arab government is besieged by a military stand-off with the Kurdistan Region over disputed energy-rich territories, and mass demonstrations by Sunni-Arabs complaining of discrimination and neglect.
Meanwhile, Sunni tribal leaders dismissed claims that Kurds have been in great danger in the area. “The Arabs have not threatened the Kurds. The Arabs are also victims like the Kurds,” said Sheikh Walid Khalid, an Arab tribal leader.
He told Rudaw, “The Kurdish officials don’t want to live here because of the lack of services. They would rather move to Kalar and Sulaimani, where good services are available to them.”
Some Sunni tribal leaders in the area believe it is time for the Kurds and Sunni Arabs to resolve their issues and unite their voice against Maliki’s government.
“In order to understand each other, we must sit and discuss our differences,” said Sheikh Mawlan Najim, the leader of the Karui Arab tribe, the biggest in the area.
“We are ready to start negotiations with the Kurdish officials,” he told Rudaw.
Iraq’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs Pushed Closer by Opposition to Maliki
09/01/2013 05:23:00By SALAR RAZA
SULAIAMANI, Kurdistan Region – Their growing opposition to Iraq’s Shiite-led government has pushed the country’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs closer together, but problems between the two still persist, MPs from both sides say.
For the past several weeks Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been besieged on two fronts, first by the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s anger over Baghdad’s efforts to take over security in disputed northern territories, and lately by Sunni-led protests over alleged discrimination against provinces where they are the majority.
“The Sunni Arab protests in Iraq have unified the Sunni and Kurdish position, but the two sides have not come close enough to solving problems between themselves,” said Bakir Hama Sidiq, an MP from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU).
“It is just events that have brought us and the Sunni Arabs together, nothing more,” he added.
He said that while the two sides are in agreement in their opposition to Maliki, a signed alliance between them would have to be “based on belief in the rights of the Kurds, not only on mutual interests.” He said he did not believe that the Sunni Arab Iraqiya coalition was ready to accept Kurdish rights, including those over the energy-rich disputed territories.
Iraq’s large Sunni minority has been enraged by Maliki, accusing his government of marginalizing Sunni provinces and calling for the release of detainees. Meanwhile, in disputed Kirkuk province the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) deployed thousands of its Peshmarga fighters in November, after Maliki sent in his controversial Dijla forces to take over security.
Some observers say that Maliki’s moves had been aimed at weakening his rivals, and at marginalizing the role of the Sunni Arabs in the country’s political process.
The Kurds and Sunni Arabs find themselves in the same corner of the ring at a time when Maliki’s government is trying to convince the parliament to reduce the KRG’s share in this year’s budget from the usual 17 percent.
Sidiq said that the recent flare-up in Sunni opposition to Maliki meant that some Sunni Arab MPs were backing down from supporting a motion to make budget cuts against the KRG.
In an interview with Al-Sumaria television last week, the premier said he does not recognize the Peshmarga as part of the national security force, and therefore his government would not arm or pay for the Kurdish fighters.
“The Peshmarga budget has to be regulated in accordance with the constitution,” said Sunni MP Hamid Mutlag, in support of Kurdish demands that the Peshmarga are entitled to a portion of the budget.
A unified prayers in Um al-Qura mosque and a demonstration in solidarity with the protests of / Fri of Ribat/.
Baghdad/ NINA /--A unified prayers held in Baghdad's Um al-Qura mosque, headed by Sunni Endowment Chairman .Ahmad Abdul Ghafoor Samarrai, followed by a peacefully demonstration in the courtyard of the mosque called for the strengthening of national unity , rejecting sectarian strife and abolition of Article 4/ terrorism, as well as accountability and justice.
Samarrai addressed sermon in which he called on the government and parliament to: "meet the demands of the demonstrators," stressing "the importance of promoting the concepts of national unity between all Iraqi people factions from north to south, and prevent anyone who tries to stir up sectarian strife between the people's components.
A multiple delegations and convoys of worshipers coming from different areas of the capital Baghdad where all mosques closed and called on worshipers to head to Um al-Qora mosque participate in the Unified prayers of Um al-Qura Mosque western Baghdad including delegations of Shiit worshipers.
Federal Court to decide legitimacy of forming Dijla Operations Command, says Sayhoud
Friday, 11 January 2013 11:55 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –The Member of the State of Law Coalition stressed "The Federal Court is the side that determines the constitutional legitimacy of forming Dijla Operations Command which is among the disputes between the Central Government and the Kurdistani Regional Government for assuming the responsibility of security file in the disputed areas."
He stated to All Iraq News Agency (AIN) "We will not accept the formation of Dijla Operations Command if the Federal Court confirmed its unconstitutional formation."
"We can not doubt the resolutions of the Federal Court because it supervises the elections and approves its results," he concluded.
Government not willing to replace security leaders, says Zedan
Friday, 11 January 2013 12:41 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –The member of the Security and Defense Parliamentary Committee, Falah Zedan, accused the Government of attempting to weaken the role of the parliament, specifically the Security Committee, by not submitting the names of the security leaders to approve them.
Speaking to All Iraqi News Agency (AIN), he said "The Government is not willing to replace the security leaders which are main reasons behind the security breaches."
"The Committee called the Government to send the names of the security leaders many times to approve them according to the constitution," he added.
"If the Government does not send the names to the parliament for approval, the breaches will continue," he concluded.
Mutleg warns from confronting demonstrations by force
Friday, 11 January 2013 14:48 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –The Deputy Premier, Salih al-Mutleg, warned from confronting the demonstrations or using force against them.
A statement by his office received by AIN cited "While receiving a delegation of Anbar tribes, Mutleg confirmed negative consequences if the demonstrations confronting with force."
"He stressed adherence to the military morals while dealing with the demonstrators," the statement added.
"He also warned from confiscating the rights of the demonstrators or attributing them to specific sides that do not represent them," the statement continued.
"He renewed calling the demonstrators to adhere to the peaceful demonstration and the Iraqi nationalism," the statement mentioned, concluding that "The delegations members expressed their respect for Mutleg and condemned the assassination attempt that he underwent."
Strict measures taken by security forces amid demonstrations of anger in Anbar.
Ramadi / NINA /--Joint army and police forces tightened security measures around the protesters on the international highway where more than million protestors held prayers of /Fri of Ribat / with the participation of hundreds of delegates from many Iraqi cities.
A security source said to NINA reporter : " More than
Million demonstrators gathered in the streets of the sit-in of Anbar province, were demonstrators stationed since about 20 days ago to claim their rights.
Protesters carried in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province, carried Iraqi flag and denounced the government's policy of deception and attempts to suppress the demonstrators.