Iraqi Kurds say ‘hysterical’ Maliki must quit
The move comes in protest at Maliki’s branding Arbil as Islamic militant haven
A spokesman for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani said Thursday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had “become hysterical” and should step down, a day after Maliki accused the Kurds of hosting the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Maliki “has become hysterical and has lost his balance. He is doing everything he can to justify his failures and put the blame on others for these failures,” read the statement, published on the Kurdish regional presidency website in English.
Addressing the Maliki, the spokesman said: “Kurdistan is proud for that fact the Arbil has always served as refuge for oppressed people, including yourself when you fled the former dictatorship.”
“Now Arbil is a refuge for people fleeing from your dictatorship. ISIS and other groups have no place in Arbil, they stay with you. It was you who gave Iraqi land and the assets of six army divisions to ISIS,” the spokesman added.
The Kurdish presidency demanded Maliki to apologize. “You must apologize to the Iraqi people and step down. You have destroyed the country and someone who has destroyed the country cannot save the country from crises.”
In another step Kurdish ministers said they were boycotting meetings of Iraq's caretaker cabinet and authorities in Baghdad halted cargo flights to two Kurdish cities.
However, the officials would continue running their ministries and “did not pull out from the government,” a senior Kurdish official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters.
The virulent statement came after Maliki charged that the Kurdish regional capital Arbil was harboring militants fighting his government, including from ISIS.
“We cannot be silent over a movement that exploited the circumstances and expanded,” Maliki said Wednesday, infuriated by a Kurdish announcement that plans for an independence referendum were to speed up.
Kurdish troops moved into a swathe of disputed areas after federal security forces withdrew as a jihadist-led alliance of militants swept through northern Iraq last month.
The Kurdish peshmerga fighters were in some places the only rampart against the jihadists, but Barzani has since vowed they would never leave the disputed areas again.
(With AFP and Reuters)
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