Al-Hashemi says he will keep staying in N Iraq
BAGHDADIraq’s fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi said on March 5 he would stay in the autonomous Kurdish zone unless he was told he had become an “embarrassment” to the Kurdish authorities. His statements came as the head of the Iraqiya coalition, Iyad Allawi, met with Turkish leaders in Ankara as part of his efforts to seek help to solve the political crisis in Iraq.
The leaders of Iraq’s rival sects have been locked in a standoff since December 2011, when al-Maliki’s government issued an arrest warrant against Tariq al-Hashemi, the Sunni vice-president, charging that he ran death squads targeting Shiite officials. Al-Hashemi, a prominent politician from Iraq’s Sunni community, remains holed up in the Kurdistan Regional Government region in the north, out of reach of state security forces.
Speaking on al-Hurra, an Arabic-language satellite television broadcaster, Hashemi said he had no plans to quit the Kurdish region as long as he was permitted to remain. “I will stay in Kurdistan unless Kurdistan says that the status of Hashemi is causing us an embarrassment,” he said. The Kurdish Regional Government’s Deputy Interior Minister Jalal Kareem told Reuters on March 4, the region had not received the request from the central government’s Interior Ministry to turn over Hashemi, but would make its own decision once it did. “We will carry out whatever the (Kurdish) council of ministers decides in response to the Interior Ministry’s request,” he said.