Former Iraqi Transportation Minister Karim al-Nouri, currently a highly ranked member of the Badr Brigade and the official government spokesman for Shi’ite militias, today issued a statement angrily condemning Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, declaring him as “worse than ISIS.”
Nouri accused the Iraqi Kurds of behaving “like a fifth column” during the ISIS war, and said they are more dangerous to Iraq than ISIS was because they are within the government to begin with.
Hostility toward the Kurds in general and Barzani in particular are driven by the Kurds having voted overwhelmingly to secede last month. Officials have threatened military action against the Kurds to prevent independence, and Nouri accused the Kurds of “stealing the oil wells” around Kirkuk.
At the same time, Nouri said the militias have no plans to move on Kurdish cities yet, and are just waiting for orders from the central government. Other commanders have predicted an imminent fight, however, and Vice President Allawi has warned Iraq could see a civil war over control of Kirkuk.
The fate of Kirkuk is hotly disputed. Historically a Kurdish city, it was de-Kurdified by Saddam Hussein’s government to secure control over its oil resources, but the Kurds reclaimed it in 2014 during the ISIS War, and have vowed to keep it.