A close aide of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has confirmed today that the government has begun holding talks with Iran in an attempt to convince their neighbor to help mediate the rising political dispute that threatens to split the nation apart, as well as to help decide the fate of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who Maliki wants arrested as a “terrorist.”
The Kurdistan bloc has also confirmed talks with an Iranian delegation, which reportedly included one of the top figures in Iran’s Quds Force, but reports suggest that disputes on where to hold talks have not been resolved.
Maliki’s control over the defense and interior ministry gives him de facto control over all the national government’s troops, and a number of top officials, including Kurdistan President Massud Barzani, were afraid to go to Baghdad for fear of being captured by Maliki’s troops. Maliki, by the same token, is said to have rejected going to the Kurdish stronghold of Arbil, where the regional government’s Peshmearga hold sway.
The situation in Iraq is deteriorating rapidly, with Maliki ruling out leaving power even though his coalition government appears to have collapsed, and warning of “rivers of blood” if the nation’s Sunni Arabs seek to establish a Kurdistan-style autonomous region. Hashemi is in hiding in Kurdistan, while Maliki is demanding that parliament remove deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq for publicly criticizing him.