At a news conference yesterday, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani revealed his opposition to the sale of F-16 jets to Iraq by the United States. Barzani said he warned the U.S. government that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could use the jets against the Kurds. The deal to buy the three-dozen F-16 fighters was sealed last year and delivery is expected in October.
Iraqi Kurdistan has a semi-autonomous administration that is mostly separate from Baghdad’s. The two governments, however, are often at odds with each other, particularly when it comes to the north’s vast oil reserves. Barzani has accused Maliki of building a new dictatorship in Iraq and claims knowledge of military gatherings where Maliki and his officers have discussed eliminating the Kurdish government.
Although Barzani has his own detractors, the Sunnis and the Sadrists have also recently voiced grave concerns about the Maliki government. Neighboring Turkey has been openly apprehensive over Maliki’s "self-centered" behavior as well, causing Maliki to call Turkey a "hostile state." The presence of fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi in Turkey may also be a factor in these new tensions.
Turkish Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdoğan later denied Maliki’s claims that Turkey is trying to enflame sectarian tensions and accused the Iraqi premier of trying to gain prestige with this "war of words." Additionally, Turkey is closely watching Maliki’s trip to Iran this week. Ankara blames a cooling in relations with Iraq over the latter’s blossoming friendship with Tehran.
Also, the sale of the F-16s could potentially affect Turkey. The Turkish military frequently conducts air strikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) targets in northern Iraq. Baghdad has previously expressed concern over these incursions but has been unable to defend its territory for lack of an adequate air defense.
Meanwhile, at least 12 Iraqis were killed and 10 more were wounded in the latest attacks.
Two children were killed and four more were wounded when gunmen stormed a Yathrib school.
In Baghdad, an Interior Ministry officer and his daughter were gunned down in Yusufiya. Gunmen killed an army colonel during a shooting in Abu Dsheer. A bomb in Jurf al-Naddaf left one soldier dead. A car bomb was found and defused before it could harm anyone.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a civilian then fled. A militant was killed during a raid. Gunmen wounded a soldier. A student was killed in a drive-by shooting. Security forces discovered a large bomb cache. A high-ranking security official has been missing for several days.
One gunman was killed an at least two security officers were wounded during an exchange of fire in Kirkuk.
In Taji, a sheikh was shot dead.
The body of a man who was the son of a Sheikh was discovered in Iskandariya.
A bomb targeting police in Garma wounded two civilians instead.
A roadside bomb wounded a civilian in Arab Jabour.