BEIRUT

Middle East

Iraq PM accuses Kurds of hosting jihadists

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (C-L) attending the funeral of Iraqi army commander of the 6th division, Maj. Gen. Najm Abdullah al-Sudani, who was killed by "hostile shelling" in Baghdad July 7, 2014. (AFP Photo/Iraqi prime minister's media office)

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday the Kurdish-controlled city of Arbil was becoming an operations base for the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militant group that seized swath of northern and western Iraq last month.

Maliki is under pressure as Sunni Muslim militants, led by the Al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS, hold large parts of the north and west of the country and have threatened to march on the capital.

"We will never be silent about Arbil becoming a base for the operations of ISIS, Baathists and Al-Qaeda and the terrorists," Maliki said in his weekly televised address.

Maliki's relationship with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani has deteriorated amid the sectarian insurgency that has threatened to split the country.

Barzani last week asked the parliament of the autonomous Kurdish region to plan a referendum on Kurdish independence, signaling his impatience with Baghdad.

Maliki, meanwhile, has accused the Kurds of exploiting the crisis to push for statehood.

Many Sunni Muslims who fled the mostly Sunni northern city of Mosul during the militants' offensive have ended up in Arbil.

"These are politicians in the Sunni community and they have been deprived of participating in the political process," one senior Kurdish official said, speaking on condition of anonymity this week to Reuters.

 

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