Kurds Reject US Demand for Iraqi President to Step Down

Obama, Biden Calling Kurds to Secure Talabani Resignation

Updated 11/9 2:20 PM EST

Though it seems that an actual deal to secure a new government is still a long way off, the Obama Administration has decided that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is on the way out, according to a number of Kurdish officials.

Indeed, officials say both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have made phone calls to the Kurdish political bloc in recent days demanding that Talabani resign from his position as president to set the stage for a new unity government.

Talabani’s Kurdistania Bloc lost considerable seats in the March election but was still seen as likely to retain the presidency given their eagerness to play a role in whatever coalition might emerge. Kurdish officials have condemned the US demand and say it is “out of the question” that Talabani will resign.

The Obama Administration however has designs on Ayad Allawi taking the presidency spot, in the hopes that this can convince the former prime minister to keep his Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc out of the opposition. It seems unlikely the dispute is over.

Iraqiya won 91 seats in the election, the largest plurality of any bloc, but seems to have failed to build a coalition government, and the second-place State of Law bloc of Nouri al-Maliki seems poised to take over.

While it is not unheard of for the largest bloc in a parliamentary system to wind up in the opposition (Israel’s Kadima faction leads that nation’s opposition since the 2009 vote, despite having more seats than the ruling Likud Party) it is seen as extremely undesirable to the Obama Administration, as Iraq faces a growing Sunni insurgency fueled by voter dissatisfaction.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.