Friday, April 16, 2010

Ninewa Becomes Playing Field Between Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement And The Kurds

Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement has been actively courting the Kurdish Alliance since the March 2010 elections. As reported before, the Kurds have major questions about some members of Allawi’s list however, such as parliamentarian Osama Nujafi and his brother Atheel Nujafi who is the governor of Ninewa, and the head of the al-Hadbaa party. Allawi has been trying to assuage the fears of the Kurdish leadership by pressing the Nujafis to make concessions in Ninewa province, which has seen a tense standoff between the Kurds and al-Hadbaa since the 2009 provincial elections. Then, al-Hadbaa won a majority of seats and took all the governorate positions, leading to the Kurds to not only boycott the council, but to announce that the 16 administrative districts they controlled would not cooperate with the al-Hadbaa led government either. As part of Allawi’s attempt to mend fences between the two, al-Hadbaa and the Kurdish Ninewa Fraternal List held a United Nations sponsored meeting in early April 2010. 

The conference happened in Baghdad, and was attended by top officials from Baghdad, Kurdistan, and Ninewa. Some of those who were present were Deputy Prime Minister Rafa Issawi, who ran as part of the Iraqi National Movement, Governor Atheel Nujafi, the heads of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Ninewa, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Interior Minister. The Kurds said they wanted a joint administration in Ninewa that would include them receiving the head of the provincial council, the deputy governor, and dividing the governorate’s budget evenly between the Arab and Kurdish areas. The Kurds also said that the two needed to discuss the presence of the peshmerga in the province, the borders, and annexing the disputed territories there. Despite the positive spin given to the meeting, afterward al-Hadbaa officials said they were pressured by Allawi’s list to attend so that a new national government could be formed. A few days later in mid-April Governor Nujafi said that he had no problems with any of the Kurdish parties that ran in Ninewa in the 2010 vote except for the KDP that won the most parliamentary seats within the Kurdish Alliance. In effect, he was trying to say that he was fine with the Kurds, but just not their leadership. That didn’t seem to work as the other Kurdish parties said they all had a united front within Ninewa.

So far, nothing has come of the U.N. conference or Allawi’s pressure on al-Hadbaa. The Kurds are still boycotting the Ninewa provincial council, there is no power sharing there, and the National Movement and the Kurdish Alliance have come to no agreement over a new government. Despite Allawi being the head of his list, he has only so much influence over the parts of his coalition. The differences between al-Hadbaa and the Kurds run deep, and the two have had several confrontations since the 2009 balloting. Its unclear whether Allawi or the United Nations has enough pull to bring the two sides together, and that may be enough to stop the Kurdish Alliance and the National Movement from finding common ground any time soon.

SOURCES

AK News, “Local consensus government likely in Nineveh: source,” 4/7/10
- “Nujaifi says Hadba issues only KDP in Mosul,” 4/14/10

UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, “SRSG Melkert hosts a meeting between Hadba and Ninewa Fraternal List in Baghdad,” 4/5/10

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