Despite vehement oppositions to holding independence referendum in northern Iraq put up by Tehran, Baghdad, Ankara et cetera, Erbil conducted the poll and today has failed to preserve Kirkuk, which they used to name as the heart of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Touching upon the recent developments in Iraq and Iraqi region of Kurdistan we carried out an interview with Sadegh Maleki, political pundit and commentator.
Following is the text of the interview:
Why did Barzani hold the referendum?
Holding the referendum was the strategic mistake of Barzani. While dreams have no place in politics, Barzani was and is pursuing which has no chance of realization in today’s situation on the field. Barzani did not have a proper strategic understanding of the situation in Iraq and the region. Besides having in mind the dream of safeguarding his position in power and tapping into the outcomes, his ambition to ascend his party leadership to Kurds’ leadership put the Kurds in a trouble that it would take years to get rid of its consequences. In a period which war on ISIL terrorists had created solidarity among Iraqis and regional players, the call for secession was so far-fetched. Assigning a role beyond the capacity of himself and Erbil was the biggest miscalculation of Barzani.
What will happen now on?
After Erbil’s retreat to the pre-2003 borders, the Kurds are now placed in an inferior position for future negotiations with Baghdad. Even some have speculated about reviving two regions plan. Baghdad’s control over oil sale, air space, and border checkpoints with the aim of enforcing more dominance over Erbil will be the conditions of the new period. However, if the talks follow a positive trend stability and security along with development will not only get resuscitated but also get systematized in whole Iraq. Paying the monthly wage of the government clerks and getting the 17% of the oil revenues can be the benefits of the new conditions for Erbil. The tie binding the capacities of Erbil and Baghdad with the potentials of this country can make Iraq as one of the most developed states of the region.
What will happen to Barzani?
The stage of politics and power has its own tides and ebbs. Although Barzani’s status is waning now, but the game is not over yet and can have more turns. Barzani’s resignation or his current weakness can’t be interpreted as his or his house’s fall from the equation of power in northern Iraq. If mind domineers over heart and the reciprocal trust revive between Baghdad and Erbil, the current development can convert to an opportunity of interaction and the base for development instead of posing a threat.
But some Kurd leaders of northern Iraq are talking about caucus treason especially in returning the power to Baghdad.
Radicalism has always existed and will continue existing. The post-referendum developments did not shed bloods and entailed the least deal of price, contrary to expectations. Such a progress was formed out of wisdom and interaction. In facing the referendum and the crisis stirred between Erbil and Baghdad, al Abadi enforced crisis management instead of crisis creation methods. He garnered a notable victory as a good record for upcoming election campaign. The forces dispatched by Baghdad got into Sinjar as easily as they conquered Kirkuk. Some Iraqi parties, whether Kurd or Arab, were adventurists after creating a bloodbath to establish a position for themselves. Bear in mind that a serious war could have inflicted heavy casualties on Kurds and change into a legitimizer in the international scene for the Kurds and fall Baghdad into serous troubles; something that Iraqi government avoided shrewdly. There should not be a talk of treason in reviewing the recent developments after the referendum and the restoration of Iraqi dominance over the region. The arena of politics is rather an arena of negotiations and reaching solutions more than a battle field, and even some political turns of events are quite unpredictable. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, was the Minister of Defense and commander of the Kurdish army in Qazi Muhammad’s Republic of Mahabad. At first he was an ally of the Russians against the Iranian king and then he turned into an ally of Iranian king and an ally of the Americans. Political pundits, at least, should not be easily deceived or fail to get the strategic causes of developments.
What is the role of the PMU (popular mobilized units) in recent Iraqi developments?
The PMU has been the resuscitators of Iraq and the Modern Iraq will get shaped by their helps. The PMU has returned the security to Iraq and if political grudge holders permit, PMU’s help can contribute to realization of national reconciliation and development in Iraq. Not only Iraq and Iraqis but the whole region and the world owe to the PMU. A comparison between what PMU has done in war on ISIL terrorists and what the US-led international alliance has accomplished, can be very ground clearing in this regard.
But the US does not hold a positive view about it.
The PMU is the fruit of Iraqis’ will, independent from US. US generally does not hold a positive view about national and independent forces. US wants to hold the monopoly of change engineering in the region. The PMU dealt a crushing blow to the American will of change engineering in the region. No force out of US will is welcomed by Washington. US is the main source of troubles in Syria, Iraq, and the whole region. The PMU is the fruit of clerics’ initiative, bridging the gaps between Shias and Sunnis, and unification with the Iraqi government. Iraqis, in general, and the Iraqi government, specifically, should know that the PMU is the guarantee of security for Iraq. Of course, these units have to get embedded into Iraqi unified army after Iraq gets out of the current crisis to defuse some baseless accusations and be fully at service for the interests of Iraq.
Interview by Nazifi