In a Feb. 18 briefing, Barzani linked a U.S. withdrawal to the growing
feud between Baghdad and Irbil. The prime minister said the government of
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has failed to fulfill his pledge to
resolve oil and other disputes with KRG.
Officials said KRG was concerned that Al Maliki would wait for a U.S.
withdrawal before resorting to force against the Kurds.
"[U.S. President Barack] Obama has said more than once that they will
withdraw in a responsible manner from Iraq," Nechirvan said. "What we
understand by a responsible withdrawal is that the United States resolve the
problems outstanding in Iraq and help the Iraqis confront these problems."
So far, officials said, the United States has refused to intervene in
the dispute between Baghdad and KRG. In January 2009, then-Vice
President-elect Joseph Biden traveled to Kirkuk to discuss the dispute with
Barzani said Baghdad was also threatening KRG's economy by seeking to
block oil deals with foreign companies. The Iraqi Oil Ministry has boycotted
companies that signed energy deals with Kurdistan.
"We haven't done anything that is unconstitutional," Barzani said.
"[Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein] Shahristani has no right to block oil
contracts concluded by the Kurdistan
government with foreign companies as long as the contracts respect
international criteria and the constitutional powers granted to Kurdistan."