February 26, 2010
Sarwar Chuchani interviews Joost R. Hiltermann, the
Deputy Program Director for the Middle East and
North Africa, International Crisis Group about a
variety of issues relating to Iraqi Kurdistan’s
Q: Do you
believe the domestic and wider-Iraq policy-making of
the Kurdish Regional Government will change after
the coming elections in July?
don’t expect a major change, because the KDP and PUK
are still the governing parties, with the KDP
continuing to play the dominant role, and now even
more so. However, they may have to be a bit more
careful and responsible and transparent and
accountable, now that they have a serious opposition
movement looking over their shoulder.
Joost Hiltermann, Deputy Program Director for the
Middle East and North Africa, International Crisis
Q: Do you believe
the Kurdish participation in multi-list Iraqi
elections will weaken their position in Baghdad?
will not affect the Kurds’ position with regard to
key questions concerning Kirkuk and other disputed
territories, oil and gas, or the powers of the
Kurdistan region. But it may have an impact on a
host of other questions, such as most importantly
the Iraqi presidency, unless – I suppose — the
Kurdistani list make certain concessions to Goran
that Goran is asking for. I don’t know whether they
will be able to reach an agreement.
Q: What is the
debate over Kirkuk leading to?
Hopefully to a peaceful, negotiated, compromise
solution that can be sustainable.
Q: Do you
believe Kurdish parties are committed to the
establish of the rule of law, democracy and human
don’t know. But since they have said they are
committed to this, they should be held to their
word. In this respect, the opposition parties and
the KRG’s international sponsors could play a
constructive role. International pressure has
certainly contributed to a certain progress on this
front since 1991.
Q: Who is
responsible for the tension between KRG and Baghdad?
takes two to tango. In any case, this is not a
matter of casting blame. This is a very serious
conflict over serious issues. Both sides have a
case. I hope they can solve it.
Q: How should
KRG deal with the PKK issue?
First of all, the PKK is a concern for Turkey.
Having seen that there is no military solution.
Turkey is now turning toward political steps. This
is positive. But it will need cooperation from the
KRG, which the KRG may give depending on what it
will get from Turkey. I see a potential deal,
whereby the military conflict comes to an end, most
PKK members in Iraq are able to return to Turkey and
engage in politics and other civic activity,www.ekurd.netand
the PKK leadership is settled in Iraqi Kurdistan or
perhaps in third countries. But Turkey would have to
take serious steps toward addressing some of the
Kurds’ legitimate concerns in Turkey. That process
is just starting.
Q: How you see
the future of Kurds in Iraq after the full
withdrawal of the coalition forces?
hope that the US and UN will be able to mediate a
peaceful settlement to the Kirkuk conflict before US
troops leave. If it fails, relations between Baghdad
and Erbil will remain tense, especially along the
so-called “trigger” line, and this could lead to
open conflict. Let’s hope not!
Chuchani, a freelance Kurdish journalist from Iraqi
Kurdistan, Sulaimaniyah, you may visit his Blog at
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