Maliki’s Overt Message to the Kurdish Leaders

Kurdishaspect.com - By Ardalan Hardi

Abdul Amir Zaidi is the Major General that Iraqi Premier Maliki has appointed as the head of the Arab-led army division in Kirkuk.

I spoke with Aref Qurbani, who is the editor of the Kurdish newspaper Aso and also a native of Kirkuk, to get some facts on General Zaidi.  Mr. Qurbani  said, “the General was a former officer in the Baath party and after the Anfal campaign (Kurdish genocide), the ring that was build around the city of Kirkuk to prevent anyone from entering or exiting the city was enforced by Zaidi.”

In 1996 to 1998 Zaidi headed the 15th brigade of the 1st division of the Iraqi Army and was stationed by Saddam, in the Kurdish towns of Redar and Daraman during Saddam's reign.

Many Kurds believe that Zaidi was directly involved in the Anfal campaign and the disappearance of many innocent Kurdish families.

After the liberation of Iraq,  Zaidi was arrested by US forces for having association with the Baath insurgency, but later released.

Now Prime Minister Maliki, of the new democratic Iraq,  has sent this former Baath member back to Kirkuk knowing it will create fear among the Kruds.

One has to wonder why Maliki would make such a flagrant move, sending Zaidi to Kirkuk when he is fully aware of the animosity and threat it brings to the Kurdish citizens.  Is there no other General in the Iraqi army with a less hideous and controversial background that is qualified to do the job?

By sending Zaidi to a disputed area, such as Kirkuk,  Maliki is trying to force the Kurdish leaders to compromise with regard to Article 140.  In my opinion, this is an overt message from Maliki to the Kurdish leaders, that should they refuse to compromise on Kirkuk, Maliki will not hesitate to join forces with the Baath party in opposition to the Kurds.

It is unfortunate that Maliki has to use someone with such tyrannical and tainted background like Zaidi to force political hands on the negotiating table.

You would think Maliki who has seen the brutality of the former regime forced upon his own people would know better than to regress to the tyrannical ways of the past.

If Maliki is truly interested in solving the issues in Kirkuk peacefully, let him push for implementing Article 140 of the Constitution of Iraq, which states that after measures are taken to reverse the Arabization policy employed by the Saddam Hussein administration during the Anfal Campaign, a referendum should be held to determine if Kirkuk will stay with the central government or return to KRG. 

Assigning a former Baath general to Kirkuk raises more dubiety from the Kurdish people and deepens the chasm that already exists between Kurdish leadership and  Prime Minster Maliki .