Barzani calls for a September deadline
ARBIL, IraqIraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani called for a September deadline for resolving the political impasse to offer Iraqi Kurds, who are holding a regional vote at that time, an incentive not to break away from Baghdad.
Iraqi opposition parties and Iraqi Kurds in general have run out of patience with feeling sidelined in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government, Barzani told the Associated Press in a 45-minute interview in his office outside the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government capital of Arbil. “There is a very dangerous political crisis in the country,” Barzani said. However, he stopped short of predicting whether al-Maliki would be ousted from power anytime soon.
Tensions between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish region have long been strained, and Barzani has threatened to break off the region from Iraq before. Barzani said he had been trying to get the bickering leaders of Iraq’s political blocs back to the negotiating table, an effort that has been idle for months.
“For the time being, we are in a consultation process,” he said. “But I would like to stress with you one fact: The current situation, the status quo, does not suffice as an option for us. This time, the timeline will not be open-ended as it has been in the past.” If the impasse doesn’t break before local elections in September, he said Iraqi Kurds may hold a referendum to decide, as Barzani put it, whether they want to “live under a dictatorial regime” controlled by Baghdad or in an independent state. Barzani also said he “wholeheartedly” supported Sunni efforts to create their own self-governing regions in Iraq, an action that the Shiite government has sought to avoid.