Speaking to Al-Arabiya TV network on Sunday, Maliki dismissed as “ridiculous” the speculation by the TV host that Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are in a row over alleged arms shipment to Syria by Iran via Kurdistan airspace.
“These allegations are meant divert attention,” the Iraqi premier said, as he smiled.
Maliki reiterated that neither Tehran nor Damascus has ever made such a demand for the dispatch of Iranian arms cargos to Syria via Iraq, and explained, “The feud is over the Green line which has been announced by the parliament as Kurdistan’s borderline.”
“The point is that they (KRG officials) actually have a problem with Dijla forces who are deployed outside the Green Line area. They state that presence of the Dijla forces is worrisome to them because Kurdish citizens live in these areas.”
“So the allegation that the feud is over the path of arms shipment from Iran to Syria is ridiculous,” he reiterated.
Maliki has on various occasions defended federal troop movements in the Northern part of Iraq, saying it is the army’s right “to be in any part of Iraq”.
In mid November, Maliki rejected a proposal by US Vice-President Joe Biden for the deployment of the US forces in Iraq’s Northern province of Kirkuk to separate the two sides’ troops.
Biden had voiced concern about a recent clash between the Pishmerga forces of the Iraqi Kurdistan region – who are the local law enforcement troops of the KRG – and Iraq’s Federal Police troops, and said the US troops should be deployed in the oil rich Kirkuk province in a bid to prevent the outbreak of a civil war, an informed source in Baghdad told FNA at that time.