Growing Rift With Kurds Puts Maliki in Peril

Kurdish Bloc Concludes Maliki Cannot Be Trusted

Senior Iraqi Kurdish officials warn that the growing animosity with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is “problematic” for both sides and that “Kurds have made a judgment that he cannot be trusted,” though he believes that “the country cannot tolerate the chaos” that would result from a potential Maliki ouster.

Nowhere can the rift between Prime Minister Maliki and his Kurdish coalition partners be better seen than in the dispute over the Support Councils. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, the President of Iraq, has said he will take Maliki to court over refusing to suspend the councils.

The Support Councils are militias allied with Prime Minister Maliki and modeled after the Sunni Awakening Councils. The concern stems from the fact that the militias are under Maliki’s direct control and funded through the Iraqi national government. Maliki insists that since the armed groups did not receive their arms directly from the government, they are not technically militias under Iraqi law.

The row over the militias will likely be yet another flashpoint for next month’s provincial elections. With growing Kurdish discontent, Sunni blocs still seething over the Status of Forces Agreement, and rival Shi’ite factions looking to gain influence, Maliki’s ability to maintain power beyond the near term seems in growing doubt.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.