The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Masoud Barzani welcomed former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s recent statements during which he called for opening a new chapter of ties with the Kurds.
He called on the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the central government come together at a dialogue table under the authority of the constitution.
“The Kurds will return to being partners and brothers in this country,” he added during a televised interview on Saturday.
His remarks come in stark contrast to the stance he had taken during his tenure as premier between 2006 and 2014 when his hardline positions against the Kurds had at times reached the point of military threats.
Maliki explained that a new chapter of ties should be opened between Baghdad and Erbil after settling the dispute over the Kurdish independence referendum.
“It is shameful to punish the Kurdish people in order to garner more votes during elections. Such an approach contradicts ethical, national and legal norms,” he went on to say.
He also said that he supported giving out salaries to employees in Kurdistan in order to restore stability there.
Commenting on Maliki’s stances, Kurdistan Democratic Party member Mohsen al-Saadoun told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We welcome any effort that would help resolve the current pending problems between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad.”
“As a politician, Maliki is exploiting the current crisis between Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Kurds, especially after the Kurdish share of the state budget was cut and employees were deprived of their salaries,” he explained.
The delay in heeding calls for dialogue between the two sides has also compounded the problems between them, he said.
Given the protests in Kurdistan, Maliki’s statements will likely be welcomed among the protesters, Saadoun remarked.
“We are now questioning Abadi’s ongoing stance to ignore calls for dialogue, which may cost him the support of the Kurdish people,” he warned.
He said that the prime minister “knows very well that since the formation of his government in 2014 and up until the recent crisis caused by the referendum, the only Kurdish side that backed his policies was the Kurdistan Democratic Party and its leader Masoud Barzani, who forged a special relationship with Abadi.”
This relationship was properly invested in the war against the ISIS terrorist group, he noted.
Observers meanwhile agree that Maliki is seeking to exploit the crisis between Baghdad and Erbil in order to reach rapprochement with the Kurds in the hope of forming an electoral alliance with them against Abadi during next year’s polls.