“SHAKING MALIKI’S HANDS”! : PYD Leader Salih Muslim Meets With Iraqi PM in Baghdad

22/12/2012 RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—A Kurdish delegation led by Salih Muslim, the head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) arrived in Baghdad this week and met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. “The meeting (with Maliki) was to discuss the crisis in Syria and to find a peaceful solution for it,” Muhammad Rasho, a senior PYD representative told Rudaw.

Rasho said that the PYD delegation and Iraqi PM Maliki agreed, “That there is a struggle for power in Syria, but regime change should happen through a democratic process not through war,”

PYD is the only Kurdish group in Syria that has joined the Cooperation Committee, an opposition group established in Syria with the endorsement of Bashar Assad’s regime. The founder of this group, Haitham al-Manaa, and members of his committee believe the crisis in Syria can be solved through dialogue.

“We believe that as a neighbor and brother Iraq plays a great humanitarian role, especially by helping 60,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq,” al-Manaa told the media following his meeting with Iraqi officials. “Iraq has sent assistance to internally displaced people in Syria and will possibly have a role in rebuilding Syria.”

This is PM Maliki’s second meeting with representatives of the Cooperation Committee in the past several months.

“PM Maliki called on the Syrian opposition to find a peaceful way out of the current crisis,” wrote the official website of the Iraqi prime minister. “Mr. Maliki is concerned about the continuation of violence and bloodshed in Syria.”

Since the start of the Syrian revolution, Iraq’s Shia prime minister has given unequivocal support to the Assad regime. “The killing or removal of President Bashar in any way will explode into an internal struggle between two groups and this will have an impact on the region,” the Telegraph newspaper quoted Maliki this time last year. “It will end with civil war and this civil war will lead to alliances in the region. Because we are a country that suffered from the civil war of a sectarian background, we fear for the future of Syria and the whole region.”

Muslim’s visit to Baghdad has been criticized and defended by Syrian Kurds from both ends of the political spectrum. “Salih Muslim meeting and shaking Maliki’s hand is another horrible and unethical act by this movement (PYD) which our people have suffered from for decades,” wrote Abdulrahman Ali on denge-derike.com .

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Ibrahim, a Syrian Kurdish political writer wrote on xeber24.net, “Muslim’s visit isn’t a national treason and whoever interprets it that way, is ignorant to politics, history and revolutions,”