Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani speaks during an interview with Reuters in Arbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region, May 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Azad Lashkari)
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The president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, said Iraq had been led in an authoritarian direction by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and threatened to end the oil-rich autonomous region's participation in the federal government.The incumbent premier's rivals, both Shiite and Sunni, are hoping Barzani and the Kurds will help them thwart Maliki's bid to stay in office for four more years.The Kurds eventually lined up behind Maliki after the last election in 2010, helping him win a second term, persuaded by promises to share power and settle the status of territories disputed by Arabs and Kurds.Barzani then threw his weight behind an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Maliki with a vote of no confidence in 2012, and must now work out how to ensure Baghdad keeps any promises it makes if the Kurds agree to share power again.Barzani emphasized repeatedly his dispute with Maliki, who once fought against deposed dictator Saddam Hussein alongside the Kurds, was "not personal," and said he had changed since becoming prime minister.
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