Shia rivalry intensifies as they attempt to gain Kurdish support in elections

“It is shameful to punish the Kurdish people in order to collect more votes in the elections."

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – As the Iraqi parliamentary and provincial elections approach, the rivalry between Shia political parties and politicians, particularly within the ruling Dawa party, has intensified.

In his weekly press briefing, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also a member of the Dawa Party, criticized the Iraqi Vice President and Leader of his party, Nouri al-Maliki, for trying to gain the support of the Kurds before the elections by promising Kurdistan their share of the national budget.

“Some people want to reach a political agreement with the Kurdistan Region to get their support [for the election] in exchange for the national budget share,” Abadi said, adding he does not want “to flatter the Region to win the elections.”

“We do not accept anyone who tries to flatter [Kurdistan] to gain support in the elections,” Abadi noted while reaffirming his government’s commitment to pay the salaries of employees in the Region.

In an interview with Iraqi media last month, Maliki called on Baghdad and Erbil “to turn a new page,” stating the tensions and hostility which followed the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum had to end.

Maliki also called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government “to come together at a dialogue table on the basis of the Constitution,” expressing his willingness to help mediate negotiations between both sides.

“It is shameful to punish the Kurdish people in order to collect more votes in the elections,” he stated. “Such an approach contradicts ethical, national, and legal norms.”

Commenting on Maliki’s remarks, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani welcomed his efforts to promote solutions to the problems between Erbil and Baghdad.

Maliki, a former Iraqi Prime Minister himself, and Abadi are expected to join the May 2018 elections with separate lists.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany