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Iraqi prime minister nixes Biden request

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BEIRUT, Lebanon – Iranian sources report that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected a telephone request over the past weekend from U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden to deploy U.S. forces in Iraq’s oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

In his phone call, Biden reportedly was concerned about recent clashes between the Pishmerga forces of Iraq’s Kurdish region and Iraq’s federal police troops.

Sources said that Biden made the request out of concern that the dispute could result in a civil war.

“The Iraqi prime minister strongly rejected Biden’s proposal,” a source said.

Al-Maliki’s rejection of Biden’s proposal follows an episode last June when the Iraqi prime minister canceled an impending visit by Biden to Baghdad to talk to high-level Iraqi officials.

“Nouri al-Maliki did not allow U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to visit Iraq,” a source in the Iraqi prime minister’s office said at the time.

Sources say that visit was canceled out of concern that Biden was planning to visit the Kurdish city of Erbil and to meet with the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani.

The concern at the time was that Biden would use the opportunity to try to divide Iraq into three separate Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish states, these sources say.

Biden has been a long-time proponent of dividing Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, and it may be a proposal that current Iraqi leaders never have forgotten.

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a Biden proposal to do just that was agreed to in a Sept. 25, 2007, non-binding resolution by a full Senate vote of 75 to 23. The resolution envisioned a federal government system in Iraq consisting of separate regions for Iraq’s Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish populations.

Indeed, Biden had made his Iraqi plan the centerpiece of his unsuccessful 2008 bid for the presidency.

At the time, the vote was considered a consensus that the problems in Iraq could not be solved militarily, but might be helped by Biden’s idea of resolving sectarian and ethnic disputes through division.

Sources in Iran, which is allied with the Shi’ite al-Maliki, said the region has been the subject of such sectarian and ethnic tensions and that the Iraqi prime minister was doing “whatever he can to fend off attempts to weaken the country’s unity.”

Iraqi politics generally have been beset with internecine battles that threaten the stability of the country, which sources say is the result of “foreign plots hatched by a few regional states.”

Al-Maliki has pointed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar as attempting to do the same thing in Iraq as they are doing in Syria.

“Qatar and Saudi Arabia which are meddling to topple the Syrian government are now doing the same meddling to topple the Iraqi regime,” al-Maliki said in an interview then with the Lebanese-based al-Mayadeen satellite network.

Al-Mayadeen, which recently went on the air in Beirut, is funded by Iran and is close to Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

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