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
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
Q: But the
letter had a 15-day deadline. The deadline was on
May 17 and Maliki did not respond to the letter.
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.
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
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,www.ekurd.net
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
Q: How much of
the crises in Iraq is the Kurds’ fault?
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
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.
threatened to reveal documents
against Maliki. Do you think this is the last card
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
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
Adnan Mufti: I
do not know.
Q: Does Maliki
have documents on Kurds to publish as well?
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
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
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
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?
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
Q: Do you
believe Maliki would leave office?
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
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
Q: PUK and the
Chang Movement [Gorran] had a meeting not too long
ago. What are the relations like between PUK and
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
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