Barzani says to declare Kurdistan’s independence if Maliki returns as Iraq PM

President of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani

Baghdad ( Kurdistan Region’s President Masud Barzani threatened on Monday to declare the independence of the autonomous region from Iraq if Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki returns to the leadership of the government.

“The moment Maliki assumes cabinet chairmanship, I will declare the independence of Kurdistan without consulting anybody. No matter what happens. I am not staying in an Iraq ruled by al-Maliki,” he was quoted as telling Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Barzani said the Iraqi parliament’s decision in September 2016 to withdraw confidence from former finance minister Husihar Zebari, a Kurd, was designed to return Maliki to cabinet leadership and to impede incumbent premier Haider al-Abadi.

Maliki became prime minister for the first time in 2006 amid a high tide of sectarian conflicts and al-Qaeda terrorism. He left his post reluctantly in August 2014 to current premier Haider al-Abadi, becoming deputy to Iraqi incumbent president Fuad Masum.

He faced popular anti-corruption protests near the end of his tenure, and an Iraqi parliamentary panel had blamed him for the fall of the city of Mosul to Islamic State militants.

Maliki leads the influential State of the Law parliament coalition, and is the secretary-general of the coalition’s most prominent component, the Islamic Dawa Party. Observers have recently reckoned that he was making attempts to return to heading the government, counting on the support he enjoys from Iran’s top clergy.

Kurdistan gained autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of fierce fighting.

last September, Barzani said in a press conference that independence was a “natural right” for Kurdistan, but said that would not be applied except based on an agreement with the central government in Baghdad.


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