Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has called on the governing Shiite bloc to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or press him to change his attitudes, in the latest standoff in Iraqi politics.
His remarks came on the eve of al-Maliki’s refusal of the agreement between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over the diffusion of the recent tension.
“The prime minister has no right to intervene with the army where the police has jurisdiction,” Talabani told al-Arabiya television, referring to the Tigris Operations Command, a body established by the central government to cover the territory of northern Iraq. Talabani said the establishment of the command effectively means the announcement of a state of emergency, which exceeds al-Maliki’s powers.
Opposition will ‘spread’
Relations between Baghdad and Arbil have been fraught since the establishment of the military command and over various other long-running disputes, including how to share the region’s oil wealth.
“The governing Shiite coalition should either replace the prime minister of press him to change his attitudes,” Talabani said. The KRG claims the Tigris Operations Command is a threat to them and an attempt by al-Maliki to seize control of the oil-rich territories along the internal border that demarcates the Kurdish region from the rest of Iraq. Al-Maliki says the body is necessary to keep order in one of the most volatile parts of the country.
Talabani’s comments came as the prime minister refused to sign the agreement that was struck between Baghdad and Arbil over the diffusion of the tension. “KRG leader Massoud Barzani told us in a meeting that al-Maliki did not approve of the agreement,” Karhi Altýnparmak, Chairman of the Iraqi Turkmen Democratic Movement said Nov. 29. One of the articles of the agreement includes the abolishment of the Tigris Operation Command.
In response to al-Maliki’s refusal, Azad Cündiyani, spokesperson of Kurdistan Patriots Union (KYB), warned that the opposition against the prime minister would spread nationwide.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh has been suspended from all his posts for alleged ties in a corruption scandal in an arms deal with Russia. Iraq said earlier last month that it had cancelled a $4.2 billion deal to buy military jets, helicopters and missiles from Russia, citing possible corruption in the contract.
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