President's Chief of Staff: Kurds Cannot Decide to Replace Maliki PART 3
Rudaw: Barzani says clearly that Maliki is headed towards dictatorship while Talabani says Maliki isnít a dictator. Does this not fragment the Kurdish position, especially in Baghdad?
Fuad Hussein: Exchanging ideas and opinions is a right, but what is important is the decision reached in the end. The question is whether the Kurdistan Region president and president of Iraq have the same opinion when it comes to democracy and the rights of the people. We have seen people manipulating this aspect a lot, particularly those who are enemies of the Kurds. I donít think it was easy to stand against the prime minister and ask him to either change his attitude or be removed. This needs more dialogue. But in the end, the important point is unity in a decision.
Rudaw: Appointing Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister is now being talked about, and it is said that the suggestion comes from the Kurds. Is this true?
Fuad Hussein: I donít know if it is a Kurdish suggestion or not, but if it is decided that the prime minister will be replaced with a new candidate from the Shia alliance, they will look for an endorsement. In the end, it is the Shia alliance that will make the final decision. If they approve of Jaafari, I donít expect the Kurds to be against it.
Rudaw: As he received the ultimatum, Maliki suggested early elections. Do you agree to that?
Fuad Hussein: This is a game. Maliki wants to hold new elections and supervise the elections himself as prime minister. And before that, he tried to remove members of the electoral commission, jail them and create problems for them. He wants to plan everything out and then hold elections when his victory and place as prime minister are guaranteed. This is not easy and I donít think his suggestion will be accepted. Muqtada Sadr rejected it, too. Elections must always be held and our real fear is the end of the process of elections. If elections are held in this case, it should be parliament that suggests and decides on this, not Maliki.
Rudaw: Maliki says that as prime minister he has done his part with regards to Article 140 and what remains outstanding is due to negligence by the presidentís office who was supposed to mark the borders of the provinces. It is said that he also told the KDP delegation the same thing during their visit to Baghdad.
ďKurds should neither leave the government nor Baghdad. We are not guests there.Ē
Fuad Hussein: In the past, he would speak about Article 140 and we would hope that he would solve it. But now he says it is impossible. The president of Iraq has now suggested to Iraqi Parliament a project where the map of the disputed provinces and the areas within Article 140 is redrawn. If that is the case, why doesnít Maliki tell his bloc in parliament to support the presidentís project? The PM is trying to blame all the bad things on others and take all the credit for good things himself. He says that if it wasnít for him, Iraq would have been divided and the constitution abolished. He says if it wasnít for the other parties, Iraq would now be a paradise. On the one hand, he consolidates all power in his own hands and calls it constitutional, and on the other he blames failures on others. Itís the same with Article 140.
Rudaw: Maliki says not creating two army divisions from the Peshmerga forces was the fault of Kurdish authorities.
Fuad Hussein: That is also not true. We spoke about this in Baghdad. Maliki is not expelling Kurdish officers from the Iraqi army. So how would he allow two Peshmerga divisions?
Rudaw: He says that the Kurdistan Region should pay the Peshmerga from the 17 percent budget it receives from Baghdad.
Fuad Hussein: This is a serious problem. If you look at Iraqís budget law, it clearly states that as of 2007 Baghdad has had to provide the budget for the Peshmerga. Did that law not go through and be approved by the cabinet of ministers? Didnít Maliki himself agree to it? Didnít parliament see it? If that was the case, then why did he approve it in the first place? Why this double standard? The meetings are confidential and I cannot say everything, otherwise his words would sound mind-boggling.
Rudaw: Why donít you reveal them to the people of Kurdistan?
Fuad Hussein: The legal evidence is enough. If the Peshmerga funding is part of the 17 percent, why did he put it in Iraqís budget?
Rudaw: Have the Kurds thought about withdrawing their ministers along with the Iraqiya and Sadrist ministers?
Fuad Hussein: Why should we withdraw? It is a mistake. Kurds should neither leave the government nor Baghdad. We are not guests there.
Rudaw: Whatís the American position on Iraqís current situation? Why are they quiet?
Fuad Hussein: The American position is very good. During President Barzaniís visit to the U.S. and now, they have been saying that they arenít against anything that is done democratically. They have left the subject of replacing Maliki for Iraqis to decide.
Rudaw: Have the Americans given the Kurds the green light to replace Maliki?
Fuad Hussein: We are not getting the green light from anyone. If you are working for your own country, you donít wait for anyoneís green light. That would mean you act on orders from others. But that is not true of the Kurds. Believe me, one of the strong aspects of Kurdistan and Kurdish leaders is that they are independent when it comes to decision-making. They exchange opinions and talk to neighbors, the U.S., Britain and France, but in the end make their own decisions.
ďRelations between Kurdistan and America are wide-ranging and they see and treat Kurdistan in a special way.Ē
Rudaw: Is the understanding between Erbil and Washington on paper now? You said in the past that the Americans had asked for the details to be drafted.
Fuad Hussein: This time when we went to the U.S., we presented a paper to the White House and they were aware of the Kurdish demands and essential things. The White House message contained two important parts: one, that they stick to a federal Iraq; and two, that they stick to the protection of and their friendship with the Kurdish people. Regarding the Kurdish people, the paper contained different points including the opening of a U.S. consulate, trade relations, the American commitment to Kurdistan and their view of the future Kurdistan.
Rudaw: Is that all on paper?
Fuad Hussein: No. A treaty is usually signed between two states. We presented our demands in four pages, they studied them and immediately started working on some such as opening the consulate and the trade, education and cultural sides. Relations between Kurdistan and America are wide-ranging and they see and treat Kurdistan in a special way. Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Region but he was received as a head of state. The U.S. president had a three-hour meeting with President Barzani. A single point wasnít left to discuss. It is unfortunate that some Kurdish politicians say that the delegation didnít do anything.
Rudaw: Did Barzani ask America to support a Kurdish state?
Fuad Hussein: No, there was no talk of a Kurdish state, even though Maliki said that our visit was unsuccessful in finding American support for a Kurdish state. Maliki has done some strange things. He reached out to everyone he knew in America in order to cancel Barzaniís visit or postpone it or have Obama not receive Barzani, but he failed in all his efforts. He lost everything and so clung to saying that Barzani failed to find support for a Kurdish state. We didnít go to America to declare a Kurdish state.