By Kareem Zair
Azzaman, February 6, 2008
The Kurds will withdraw from the government of Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki if their share of the country’s oil revenues is reduced.
Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament, and a veteran Kurdish politician accused “certain political factions” in the government of attempts to “slash the gains Kurds have made” since a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime of former leader Saddam Hussein.
Othman accused some Arab parliamentary blocs, both Shiite and Sunni, of attempts to “ignite Arab-Kurdish strife.”
Tension between Arab Sunnis and Shiites has subsided recently with tribal leaders, clergymen and politicians of both sides working together to reduce levels of violence.
Othman said both Arab Sunnis and Shiites were trying to undermine the Kurds.
Kurdish delegations some headed by Othman himself are in talks with Maliki on the percentage of oil money that will go to their regional budget.
The Kurds demand 17 percent but the government and its Arab allies say the figure is not representative of the population of their semi-independent enclave currently including the three province of Dahouk, Arbil and Sulaimaniya.
This year’s budget has yet to be approved by the parliament but differences over Kurdish share have blocked the approval.
MPs from both Shiite and Sunni blocs are said to have vowed turn down any budget proposal that meets Kurdish demands on oil royalties.
But Othman said if the parliament rejects the proposal, the Kurds will leave the government.
A Kurdish departure will deny Maliki the parliamentary majority but analysts say Arab factions, both Shiite and Sunni, which have so far shunned the government, may join in.
“Some elements in the parliament carry Chauvinistic minds,” said Othman in the harshest criticism of the current Shiite and Sunni liaison in parliament.
In response, some MPs alleged that the Kurds were fomenting the sectarian strife and were not happy to see it subsiding.
Othman denied the allegations.
Kurds say to leave government if demands not met
By Kareem Zair