Iraq PM for 'militarisation': Kurd official

AFP , Tuesday 17 Jul 2012

The spokesman of Iraq's Kurdish president slams statement issued by national PM Nuri Al-Maliki in which he backed 'plans for militarisation' as a means to reach political aims

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki greets during the celebrations for the 91st anniversary of the Iraqi Army at Baghdad's fortified Green Zone January 6, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

The spokesman for Iraq's Kurdish regional president sharply criticised national premier Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday for allegedly militarising Iraqi society and using violence for political ends.

Umeed Sabah's remarks come with relations between the federal government in Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Arbil at a low ebb over multiple festering disputes, and with Kurdish president Massud Barzani having supported efforts to pass a no-confidence motion against Maliki.

In a statement, Sabah said the Iraqi premier had "plans for the militarisation of Iraqi society and supports the option of violence as a means to reach political aims." He added that there was "no doubt that he is going deeper and further with practices that are contrary to the simplest democratic values and principles of partnership."

Iraq has agreed to acquire American military equipment worth more than $10 billion, including 36 F-16 warplanes which are not expected to be delivered for years, but also tanks, artillery, helicopters and patrol boats.

The F-16 deal has raised alarm bells in the northern Kurdistan region, with Barzani saying earlier this year he was opposed to the sale of the warplanes while Maliki was premier, fearing they would be used against Kurdistan.

He later tempered those remarks, but regional premier Nechirvan Barzani, the president's nephew, warned in May of the continued desire for "ethnic cleansing" from Iraqi politicians, though he did not specifically point the finger.

Baghdad and Arbil are also at odds over Kurdistan's refusal to seek approval from the central government for oil contracts it has awarded to foreign firms, and over a swathe of disputed territory in north Iraq.

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