The ongoing political dispute in Iraq looks to be coming to a head, with Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Kurdistan for crisis talks and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massud Barzani openly talking about secession.
As always, the center of the dispute is Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose ongoing centralization of power and efforts to have opposition figures arrested as “terrorists” have many fearing a growing dictatorship. Of that possibility Barzani said “they have to decide if they are willing to accept to live under a dictatorial regime or not,” adding that a secessionist vote could come as soon as September.
Sadr, the head of the Iraqi National Alliance faction, pushed for everyone to consider Iraqi unity a primary concern, while warning that Maliki had to appoint security and defense ministers instead of just keeping those jobs for himself.
For the Kurds, a secession sooner rather than later might be the safer choice, as Barzani and other officials have expressed concern that the central government’s military might, once the US delivers its F-16 warplanes, would be sufficient to crush any secessionist movement.