Kurds Reject Provincial Elections in Iraq
To return to my obsession with the powder-keg known as northern Iraq, Kurdish anger over the prospect of dividing Kirkuk — they want to whole megillah — has led Iraqi President/Kurdish potentate Jalal Talabani to veto the latest provincial elections bill. The elections were supposed to be held in October; then they were delayed to December; now they might be held… who knows. There’s supposed to be another national election in 2009, so maybe they’ll try to hold the provincials at the same time. Reports The New York Times:
Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and at least one of his vice presidents vetoed the legislation, according to Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish politician. Mr. Talabani’s office earlier in the day had issued a statement promising a veto, saying that the legislation in its current form would deepen “the sectarian and national isolation and expand the circle of extremism.”
Pay attention to that “expand the circle of extremism” quote. I don’t know what, in context, it actually refers to. But one plausible reading is that the in-crowd in Iraq — Maliki’s Dawa Party; the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq; the Kurds; to a lesser extent, the Iraqi Islamic Party’s National Dialogue coalition of Sunnis — doesn’t want to hold the elections because they don’t want the Sadrists and the Awakening Councils to win, which they’re expected to do. The fear of losing power to a new nationalist coalition helped drive Maliki to embrace withdrawal in 2010, an attempt to steal the Sadrist thunder. And the Kurds really don’t want a nationalist coalition in power to mess with their long-term strategy for secession.