Iraqi Kurds, Kingmakers Again!
By Hiwa Osman - ekurd.net
October 8, 2010
The Kurds have once again found themselves the
kingmakers of Iraq, but this time, the stakes are
much higher. Iraq’s political paralysis has earned
it the world record for the longest period of time
in which a country has gone without forming a
government after holding an election. Given that all
of the other parties have taken sides, it is clear
that it is up to the Kurds to decide who will lead
The good news is that this time, the political
picture and the leadership options are clearer.
After months of indecision, incumbent Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki finally won his battle to secure the
National Alliance’s nomination for the premiership.
Two months ago, I wrote about
players and spectators and encouraged
the Kurds and other smaller blocs to make up their
mind about the next prime minister. The Sadrists and
the others seem to have made their decision by
nominating Maliki; luckily for the Kurds, it did not
change the equation much.
Hiwa Osman, IWPR Iraq’s country director, previously
served as Iraqi president Jalal Talabani’s media
To be sure, Iraqi politics
remains dysfunctional and paralyzed. The country is
unable to move in any definitive direction because
of its politics. The Kurds should not be influenced
by the political quagmire, however. Their choices
are simple today: Allawi or Maliki.
The ongoing conflict over the prime minister’s post
was a clear symptom of the paralyzed politics of
Baghdad. It became clear that the conflict is one
between lists, and not about policies. Sadly, the
conflict is centered on the interests of the blocs
rather than to the public interest.
Breaking the world record and not feeling the sense
of urgency to form the government or make
concessions is a clear example.
The Kurds are different from other blocs because
they are not embroiled in Baghdad’s difficult and
External pressures could be placed on the Kurds to
not support a seemingly sectarian government led by
powerful Shia parties. But the reality is the other
options are not much better.
In the early stages of negotiations, a national
unity government could have been an answer. But
today it is not. The bad relationship created over
the past six months has in my opinion destroyed any
potential for trust between the two main lists to
create a national unity government. Maliki remained
a strong candidate so did Allawi.
As one of the more neutral groups in Baghdad’s
vicious political fight, the Kurds have an
opportunity today to make a real difference in the
political process and for themselves.
Although they are a list and an alliance, their
politics are more mature and clearer in terms of
hierarchy, goals, interests and objectives. The main
reason for this is that they are from one region.
Their aims and demands were not created yesterday,www.ekurd.netthey
were developed after decades of struggle.
Many observers believe that the ball is in the
Kurds’ court, but this should not be seen as a
burden. In fact, it could be an opportunity.
The Kurds cannot afford to play the political game
without having a clear idea as to their demands. The
19-point list should be the basis for the Kurds to
negotiate a deal with either Allawi or Maliki.
Other characteristics, like the leadership, vision,
strength of the candidates, should also be
In dealing with the blocs, the Kurds should consider
the composition, unity and sustainability of each
bloc and their historic relationship with -- or
animosity toward -- the Kurds and their demands.
During the months-long political game, the Kurds
have thus far been spectators. As we approach the
final stretch, it is now their time to play, and to
score the winning goal.
is IWPR’s country director in Iraq, previously served as
Iraqi president Jalal Talabani’s media adviser.
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