PM Warns of 'Ethnic Conflict' in Iraq

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Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday warned of the danger of "ethnic conflict" in Iraq, after negotiations aimed at easing Arab-Kurd tensions in the country's north stalled this week.

"If conflict erupts, it would be unfortunate and painful, and it will be an ethnic conflict" that is "not in the interest of Kurds nor Arabs nor Turkmen," Maliki told a news conference in Baghdad.

Talks between federal and Kurdish security officials aimed at easing high tensions between the two sides in northern Iraq broke down over Baghdad's refusal to scrap the Tigris Operations Command, the autonomous Kurdistan region's government said in a statement on Friday.

The establishment of the federal Tigris Operations Command, which covers disputed territory in northern Iraq, has drawn an angry response from Kurdish leaders who want to incorporate much of the area into their region.

Maliki also defended federal troop movements in the north, saying it is the army's right "to be in any part of Iraq."

And he ruled out the redeployment of U.S. forces to help ease the tensions, saying it is "the responsibility of the Iraqi government and the (Kurdistan) region to work to end their problems without the assistance of a third party."

U.S. forces played a coordinating role between Kurdish and Arab forces in disputed territory, forming joint patrols and checkpoints comprised of U.S. soldiers, Iraqi troops, and Kurdish forces.

But U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq last year, removing a buffer to Arab-Kurd tensions.

The dispute over territory in northern Iraq is the biggest threat to the country's long-term stability, diplomats and officials say. Ties between Baghdad and Kurdistan are also marred by disputes over oil and power-sharing.

Comments 2
Default-user-icon JC Williams (Guest) 01 December 2012, 20:53

Yeah The1Phoenix, well you're stupid. This ethnic conflict has been stoked since before The Project for a New American Century (William Kristol-Wall Street Journal-led think tank) was published. Since before the first US-Iraq war : Desert Storm. Saddamn didn't persecute Christians or let Sunni or Kurd militias operate in his country. In terms of causation lay the blame wear it belongs- The George W Bush Administration. Maliki has a job to do and the Kurds leaders won't let him do it because their in league with The United States, NATO and Israel. Who are you going to blame when 1.3 million Iraqi assyrian Christians are driven out of Syria? Will you blame Assad?

Thumb lebanon_first 02 December 2012, 00:34

legacy of georges w bush and rumsfeld. He caused more suffering than few people last century. Up there with staline and hitler...