Nawshirwan Mustafa (L), leader of the Gorran movement, welcomes former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (R) in Sulaimani on Monday. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Tuesday that he was not sure if former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki had good intentions behind this week’s visit to the Kurdistan Region’s Sulaimani city on Monday.
“I believe that if Maliki had good intentions he should have visited Erbil, too,” PM Barzani told reporters. “But in reality I am not aware of what his purpose was in that visit.”
Barzani referred to his own previous visits to the Iraqi capital Baghdad as head of Kurdish delegations and his meetings with Maliki.
“If it comes to visits, I too have visited Maliki [in Baghdad] but in order to know former PM Maliki’s intentions behind the visit you have to ask the people who invited him to Sulaimani,” Barzani said. “They must answer that question.”
Maliki arrived in Sulaimani city on Monday where he met with leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and local provincial officials.
Maliki has been blamed by Erbil for blocking the autonomous region’s share of the national budget two years ago as well as funding for the Peshmerga as stipulated in the Iraqi constitution.
The former Iraqi PM was also scheduled to visit the city of Halabja—the site of Saddam Hussein’s chemical bomb attack of 1988—and have a luncheon with Kaka Hama, head of the Socialist Party, in his village of Gulakhana.
The trip however, was cancelled at the last minute, as Kaka Hama was informed by Halabja governor “without giving any specific reason.”
“I was contacted a week ago by the PUK that he will come here for lunch,” Kaka Hama told Rudaw. “We had prepared ourselves but a short while ago the governor and mayor of Halabja came here and said he wouldn’t come.”
The Socialist Party leader said that he had planned to raise with Maliki a number of topics related to Baghdad’s budgetary policies towards the Kurdistan Region.
“I wanted him to come and I had prepared a list of things to discuss with him,” he said. “About cutting the salaries of the people of Kurdistan and the Peshmerga budget and buying Kurdistan’s wheat by Baghdad.”
He added: “The Iraqi PM is from Maliki’s party and he’s the head of a bloc that has 91 seats in parliament and of course he has his own influence. He has the majority in parliament and therefore can have an impact.”