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 It's not a good idea to publish secret documents against Iraq's PM Maliki: Adnan Mufti

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It's not a good idea to publish secret documents against Iraq's PM Maliki: Adnan Mufti  26.5.2012  
By Hevidar Ahmed - Rudaw


Senior leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and former speaker of Kurdistan Parliament Adnan Mufti. Photo: Rudaw
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May 26, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — In this interview with Rudaw, senior leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and former speaker of Parliament Adnan Mufti says that his party is for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki to solve the disputes with Baghdad. Mufti says a war of words will only further deteriorate the relations between Baghdad and Erbil. Mufti says that Kurds have made irreversible mistakes dealing with the disputed territories and that Erbil is now fighting for Kurdish demands through the Iraqi constitution. In Mufti's opinion, every political party in Kurdistan, including the Change Movement (Gorran) has the right to build relations with other countries as long as the relations remain transparent.

Q: In a recent interview with Nalia TV Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki blamed the Kurdish leadership for the failure of implementing Article 140. He said he has done his part, and the rest of it depends on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. What do you say?

Adnan Mufti: He did not blame the Kurds. He just wanted to veer responsibilities off his office. Maliki said he has taken some practical steps. He said he has supported the Article 140 Committee and that he has allocated US$1 billion for compensating families as required by Article 140. As Maliki said, Article 140 stipulates some changes in the jurisdiction of a number of cities and districts. The article is not limited to the problem of the Kurdish areas only. It covers Shiite and Sunni towns as well. The Iraqi presidency office was supposed to submit a proposal to the Iraqi parliament, suggesting these changes. But until the 2010 elections, Iraqi president had two vice presidents (one Sunni one Shiite) and booth of them had veto power. Therefore, if Talabani had proposed anything, it had to come with their prior approval otherwise they would veto it. However, now the proposal has been made and we hope the Parliament passes it.

In the interview Maliki just tried to defend himself and this is something normal. There was a response to Maliki’s words in the interview and this too is

normal. However, now we have to look for solutions. We have to think about what needs to be done. If the Erbil Agreement is not going to be implemented, then what do we need to do? Will we continue with our approach or look for alternative solutions?

Q: Do you think Maliki was trying to create conflict between Kurdish factions by his statements in the interview?

Adnan Mufti: No, I do not think so. Former PM Ibrahim Al-Jaaffari (I don’t know it was before or after his removal from office) came to Kurdistan and said the same thing. Jaaffari, like Maliki, said, “I have done my part, now the article is depending in the Iraqi president’s office”. Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani replied to Jaffari’s claim and said, “in the Iraqi presidency office there is the right of vetoing. I can’t send the proposal to the Parliament unless all parties agree on the content of the proposal prior to submitting it to voting.”

Now Maliki repeats the same thing. It’s just an attempt to push responsibilities away from himself. I mean what he said was true, but this does not mean he is not to be blamed for the government’s failure for implementing the article. We all have played a part in the failure.

But as for your question, even if Maliki’s intention was to create conflicts between the Kurdish parties, we know its not going to affect the Kurdish unity. Kurds have had a bad experience having conflicts with each other. Therefore, no longer can anyone disrupt the Kurdish unity. Let him say what he wants to say. But I assure you his words do not affect the unity among Kurds.

Its true we have differences in our opinions, but the differences will not take us back to political conflicts. We comply with the conclusions of the Erbil Agreement. We want the conclusions and decisions of the Agreement to be fully implemented. This, of course, requires dialogue and agreements. But if we continue to see that certain parties of the Agreement ignore the terms of the Erbil Agreement, then doors to other things and approaches will be opened.

Q: Dr. Fuad Hussein, Kurdistan President’s chief of staff said last week that President Barzani is convinced that it is no longer possible to deal with Maliki. Do you think working with Maliki is still possible?

Adnan Mufti: In politics there is no “absolute No”. One can say if the other party continues on a certain approach, we will not negotiate with them, but if the party is willing to change its approach then yes, why not? In the Erbil Agreement a letter was signed and was given to Maliki, if Maliki complies with the demands of the letter then we will continue working with him.

Q: But the letter had a 15-day deadline. The deadline was on May 17 and Maliki did not respond to the letter.

Adnan Mufti: They must have had an answer for the letter. I mean Maliki’s coalition have to meet and discuss the demands of the letter. Maliki represents the State of Law coalition, and the state of law is the biggest coalition in the Iraqi parliament, so they are the ones who can decide whether Maliki stays in office or leaves. If they have different opinions on the issue, they have to meet and discuss it.

Q: Kurdistan president says Maliki is establishing a dictatorship. Do you share that idea?

Adnan Mufti: In any country, if the constitution grants as much power to the prime minister as the Iraqi constitution does, then it might appear as dictatorship and he might be willing to establish an authoritarian rule. But the constitution does not allow authoritarianism.

However, I do believe that some of the prime minister’s power should be given to the president in order to create some sort of balance. Again, Iraq is composed of three major groups (Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis), this composition prevents the establishment of dictatorship. Besides those three major groups, other groups as Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Turkmen are in the country. It is not possible for Iraq to be run by a dictatorship again. The changes in the Middle East are also against dictatorship.

Q: How much of the crises in Iraq is the Kurds’ fault?

Adnan Mufti: This question cannot be answered by one sentence. In some of the areas, we are to blame. We have not been united in dealing with Baghdad. In Kirkuk we have had two Kurdish representations. Sometimes there were need for certain steps but were not taken. We are to blame for these. In 2003 there were certain things that could be done. But back then we thought they were not doable. We are paying the price for that now.

Q: Do you mean Kurds were not united in Kirkuk?

Adnan Mufti: It was not only in Kirkuk. We thought we could not change the already set borders by few meters. We thought if we did that it would be the end of the world! That was a mistake. I do not mean to justify certain things. I, too was one of those who believed we could not do that, back then. Second, there are some other mistakes that are not completely related to the Kurds but to the Iraqi situation. In Iraq making decisions is not an easy thing.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was unified in 2006. But it has not practically been unified. This is something that could have been done. It has impacted the implementation of Article 140. There are many other things. Many things in dealing with the neighboring countries with the Iraqi government, all these are our mistakes. Besides, in Kurdistan we have not been able to institutionalize our democracy. We have not exercised our democracy as we should have, perhaps because we do not have a democratic culture yet.

Q: Kurdistan Region presidency threatened to reveal documents against Maliki. Do you think this is the last card against Maliki?

Adnan Mufti: I do not think it is a good idea to publish those documents. Since we are part of Iraq, we are looking for solutions. We are all asking for the implementation of the Iraqi constitution, therefore, we must do our best to reach agreements. We have certain demands from the Maliki government and the government has to meet the demands. It’s not a good idea to start a media warfare and take unilateral steps in this regard.

Q: After the Kurdistan presidency threat, Talabani called for a stop of the media war. Does your view on this issue reflect the view of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)?

Adnan Mufti: Even before Talabani’s call, I thought it was not a good idea to publish the documents. However, now Talabani and all the friends of the Kurds believe a media war does not serve the situation. If there is something that needs to be addressed we can do that on the negotiation table. If they have

concerns, we have to listen to their concerns too. This fight cannot be done via media.

Q: What are the documents that Kurdistan presidency threatens to publish?

Adnan Mufti: I do not know.

Q: Does Maliki have documents on Kurds to publish as well?

Adnan Mufti: Documents are one thing and words are another. You can say whatever you want in the media, but what documents you have that is the important thing. I am not aware of documents here or there [in Baghdad], but I know it’s not going to be a good thing. Both sides have to stop this. That is because if you open doors for such things, you will be dragged into other negative attitudes and reactions.

Q: There have been some differences between the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] and the PUK as regards dealing with Baghdad. What do you make of these differences?

Adnan Mufti: This is not the problem of KDP and PUK only. Kurdistan Region president has a responsibility towards the people of Kurdistan and Talabani, Iraqi president has a different responsibility towards the people of Iraq. Each one of them has to comply with the constitutional oath they have taken in Parliament. As Kurdish leaders, they do not have much difference; they have different opinions in dealing with the issues. In the strategic cases they do not have much difference. In the recent five-party meeting in Erbil president Talabani did not sign the communiqué because he is the president of the country and has to keep his impartiality. However, president Barzani signed the communiqué on behalf of both PUK and KDP. Therefore, it’s difference in opinions, and they just have different responsibilities.

Q: Does Talabani agree that Maliki must be removed from office?

Adnan Mufti: He cannot say that, even if he believes that. I can tell you from my personal view that we have some demands that have to be focused on. Removing anyone from any office has its own way. What is democracy? Can anyone impose on us that Kurdistan president must be removed from his office? No one can make that decision for the people of Kurdistan, and the same is true of Maliki. We have some demands and our demands are compatible with those of the Iraqiya bloc and the Sadrist Movement. If the demands reach a certain level, then other democratic approaches will be taken for bringing changes to the circumstances. We are currently holding meetings on that.

Q: It is said that Iran has pressured the Kurdish leadership to drop the talks about removing Maliki from office and recently the Iranian ambassador visited both Barzani and Talabani. How effective has the Iranian pressures been in this regard?

Adnan Mufti: Iran is a vast country and has a long border with Iraq. Iran has many interests in Iraq and conflicts with the US and some other countries in the region. The same goes for Turkey. Therefore, these countries follow the issues in Iraq in their respective ways. That is why they visit Iraqi leaders and discuss the issues with them. But they have not talked about Maliki’s removal.

Q: Do you believe Maliki would leave office?

Adnan Mufti: That is not an easy question. Maliki will do his best to remain in office. He has strengthened his position in the State of Law coalition and the Islamic Supreme Council agrees that he should stay in his office. The latter can be seen from the statements of the leaders of the Islamic Supreme Council.

Q: Kurds are concerned about Iraq’s armament. Kurdistan president voiced his concern to the American president. Do you think that concern is a legitimate concern? You also, in 2008 asked the US government to avoid selling sophisticated weapons to Iraq.

Adnan Mufti: Let me be more precise on this. In 2008 in the Kurdistan parliament I asked an American congressional delegation that if the US government sells sophisticated weapons to the Iraqi government, the US government should ask for guarantees from the Iraqi government that it will not use these weapons against Kurds or the Iraqi people. We do not know what the next Iraqi government is going to be like. We have to find agreements with America and our other allies that the weapons sold to Iraq are not used against Kurds. President Barzani’s concern is a legitimate concern regarding Iraqi government’s armament. The Kurds and Iraqis have to be assured that the Iraqi government will not be used against them. Like the Egyptian army, when the demonstrations started in Egypt, the army remained impartial.

Q: PUK and the Chang Movement [Gorran] had a meeting not too long ago. What are the relations like between PUK and Gorran now?

Adnan Mufti: Some steps have been taken to normalize the relations. This is not only between Gorran and PUK. Gorran has adopted a new policy,

particularly after the visits of Kurdistan president and Kurdistan prime minister to Gorran’s headquarters. Gorran paid the visits back to Kurdistan president and also met with the PUK in order to normalize the relations. As they say, they will continue being the opposition in Kurdistan and criticize the government. This does not mean enmity. They will address the shortcomings of the government. This sort of relation will be in the interest of Gorran and the Kurdistan government.

Q: The Iranian ambassador visited Gorran headquarters and invited its leader Nawshirwan Mustafa to Iran. Will the PUK be comfortable with such a visit?

Adnan Mufti: No. It’s a very good thing. Any political party, opposition or not, if they build wider relations it is a good thing. The relations should be transparent. It is better if the relations are transparent. As relations develop wider, politics of the parties will be more realistic. If parties build relations with Turkey and Iran, transparent relations, they will benefit from that. Moreover, now the room for secret relations/deals is very small. Everything will eventually be revealed. In 2007 a secret agreement was signed in Cairo against the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Islamic Union took part in the agreement, but they fortunately withdrew from the agreement soon after, but the agreement was revealed shortly after it was signed. Therefore, I believe if you hide things you are only making it worse. If you are transparent you make fewer mistakes, because you feel more responsible. Therefore, transparent relations do not bring any danger.

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