In an interview with an AP journalist yesterday, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq threatened secession—a move that could exacerbate tensions in an already fraught political scene.As Fox News reports,
“What threatens the unity of Iraq is dictatorship and authoritarian rule,” Barzani said in a 45-minute interview in his sprawling office outside of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region he leads in northern Iraq. “If Iraq heads toward a democratic state, then there will be no trouble. But if Iraq heads toward a dictatorial state, then we will not be able to live with dictatorship.”He called it a “very dangerous political crisis in the country” and said the impasse must be broken by September, when voters in the Kurdish region may consider a referendum for a state independent of Iraq.
Meanwhile, prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr visited Iraqi Kurdistan in an attempt to diffuse the crisis. Sadr has deep ties to Iran but is somewhat less friendly with Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Nevertheless, Maliki owes his position to the support of Sadr’s parliamentary bloc.Politics in Iraq is getting interesting. If Sadr, the Kurds and Tariq al-Hashemi (a former vice president, ousted by Maliki) align against Baghdad, with support from Turkey and the Gulf sheikdoms, Maliki could be out.