The Kurdistan National Assembly
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Hours after Iraq’s embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused the Kurds of harboring insurgents, the Kurdistan Region decided that Kurdish ministers appointed to the Iraqi cabinet will not be going to Baghdad.
“As a first response to Maliki’s threats, the Kurdish leadership has decided that our ministers will not attend any meetings of the Iraqi cabinet,” said an official from the dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
The official said that there is a consensus among all Kurdish political parties, including the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), to boycott Baghdad.
In his weekly televised address, Maliki said Wednesday that the Kurdish capital of Erbil had become home to “terrorists” and that his government “cannot stay silent.”
“Those (terrorists) and those who host them will lose,” Maliki warned. He vowed, “We will not stop until we have retaken all the areas that were taken from us.”
With Iraq sliding into deeper turmoil, the Kurds have moved their own forces into Kurdish-populated areas outside their official borders, including the immensely oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Kurds also have declared their intention to hold a referendum on independence.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani rejected claims by Baghdad and Shiite politicians that the Kurds were behind the current turmoil.
The president blamed Maliki, and his insistence on a third term, as the cause of Iraq’s undoing.
“If Maliki insists on a third term, then Iraq will be driven towards a precipice and no one can predict what will happen,” he said. “And no decision will bring the country back to its previous state.”
Also Wednesday, the Kurdish president’s office said on its website that US Vice President Joe Biden and Barzani had discussed the Iraqi situation on the phone, details of which were not published.
Maliki has been flailing under a jihadi-led insurgency that has ignited a Sunni rebellion, with a third of the country now under the control of rebel forces.