President of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani told a US Congress audience last week that Iraq was heading towards dictatorship as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is controlling the majority of the state institutions. Below is a translation s his address with a link to the video on Youtube.
"My Washington visit came upon the invitation of the US government. Yesterday, I met with President Obama and Mr. Biden and other US officials, we talked about the current situations in the region in general, but the Iraq and the relations between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad were tackled in detail. We conveyed our opinion very frankly that Iraq is heading towards a crisis, autocracy has emerged; taking over the majority of the state institutions is growing every day. Therefore, the situation requires a solution and we have called on the Iraqi political forces to sit together and solve the situation, or as I said earlier in Kurdistan during the Nawroz, that "eventually, we will be obliged to go back to the opinion of our people. Whatever our people decides we will do that"
"Of course, their opinion [US officials] was that they cared about the situations in Iraq, Mr. Obama personally stressed several times that 'We emphasize on our commitment to Kurdistan Region and the achievements, and we support the solution of the issues' and after I am back [to Kurdistan] we will seriously make efforts to find radical solutions for them in a specified timeframe. We will not be convinced with futile promises like before"
"It should be clear to everyone that the current Iraqi government was formed on the Kurds shoulders and with Kurdish blood, this is one. Second, unlike before, Kurds will not leave Baghdad for other people. It is the people who are against the Kurds who have to go out of Baghdad. Therefore, yes we have issues, some of which are related to the way of governance regarding Iraq as a whole; autocracy and controlling all state institutions is by no means acceptable. Others are related to issues between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad such as the Article 140 [of the Iraqi constitution] for which we as Kurds showed maximum flexibility. And the issues of Kirkuk and other territories, the Peshmarga, oil and gas. It is now openly said that federalism should not be there while one of the conditions for Iraq to stay united is that it has to be a federal, democratic and plural Iraq. The Constitution itself states that commitment to this constitution is a condition for Iraq to remain united. They [Baghdad authorities] are playing with fire; they are playing with the fate of a nation. Therefore, we will never accept the return of dictatorship top Iraq. We Kurds, as I said, have only found 3 or 4 thousand remains of a total of 182,000 Kurds, the majority of whom are women and children, in the deserts of southern Iraq. We will not accept these catastrophes happen to Kurds or dictatorship re-emerge in Baghdad again"