Vice President Nouri al-Maliki and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) were once the worst of enemies, and now they are making up. They both are angry at Prime Minister Haidar Abadi, which is bringing the two sides together. This is another sign of the short sighted thinking of much of Iraq’s political class.
The first sign of this reconciliation happened when Maliki gave a long interview to Rudaw, which is run by Kurdistan Regional Government Premier Nechirvan Barzani. Maliki said that Baghdad and Irbil had to start anew with relations and build trust and equality amongst all citizens. He advocated talks between the two sides before the 2018 elections. Premier Barzani then referred to that interview in a series of comments to the media saying that Prime Minister Haidar Abadi was punishing the Kurds and unwilling to compromise while Maliki was offering a positive message about relations between the central and regional governments. Al Mada took it even further suggesting that Maliki and the Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party might even form an alliance for next year’s vote. The friendly comments between the vice president and the KDP were a dramatic change in rhetoric.
It was only a short while ago that Maliki was one of the most hated figures within the KDP, and the Kurds were a favorite target of the VP. Maliki for example, routinely blamed a conspiracy involving the Kurds for the fall of Mosul. While he was prime minister he attacked the Kurds independent oil deals, challenged them in the disputed territories, and even claimed they supported the Islamic State. The KDP in return pushed several no confidence votes against the premier starting in 2007, and generally blamed him for most of the problems in the country. Despite all these differences, the two are now talking as if this was water under the bridge. This is a perfect example of the limited worldviews of Iraq’s politicians. Too many of them think extremely short-term. In this case, both Maliki and the KDP are unhappy with PM Abadi. Maliki resents him for taking his job in 2014, and the KDP is angry that the premier took back most of the disputed areas including Kirkuk and has imposed sanctions on Kurdistan for its September independence referendum. For now, their shared hatred for the prime minister is fueling their rapprochement.
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- “Oil For Soil: Toward A Grand Bargain On Iraq And The Kurds,” 10/28/08
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