Tag Archives: Gorran

Kurds must look within to secure future

Kurdistan is crossing through a unique and sensitive juncture, yet lack of unity is threatening to hamper the region at a crucial time.

With Kurdistan at war with the Islamic State (IS), experiencing unprecedented economic crisis, and housing nearly two million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees in an increasingly volatile region, the challenges are already high.

However, the constant bickering between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Change Movement (Gorran), at this vital time undermines Kurdish goals and aspirations.

The Kurdistan government took just shy of seven months to form in 2014 after Kurdistan parliamentary elections in September 2013, underscoring the fragile makeup of the coalition cabinet.

Deep divisions over the state of the presidency, protests in October 2015 that turned violent with KDP offices getting torched and the subsequent prevention of parliament speaker from Gorran, Yousif Mohammed, from entering Erbil, culminated in the political standoff that remains today.

There have been various attempts to find a political breakthrough but the political parties have mainly blamed each other for the stand-off and lack of progress.

Kurdistan Region President, Masoud Barzani, recently urged political parties to kick start negotiations to resolve the current deadlock. The president urged the political parties “to solve the current crisis…activate the parliament and elect a new presidency,”

However, Barzani stressed that “it is not possible for those who have been the source of the crisis, remain in the chair of the parliament.”

The deadlock has seen a threat of a return to the dual administration of the past with KDP on one side and PUK and Gorran on the other. There has been notable differences in their respective approaches to working with Baghdad, relations with Ankara and Tehran, policies on Syrian Kurdistan region, handling of oil revenues and budgets and even moves towards independence.

Gorran’s suggestion of governorates establishing direct relations with Baghdad would merely intensify these divisions in Kurdistan and would undermine the hard fought Kurdish gains.

The new initiative by President Barzani is a welcome step to thaw tensions and end the deadlock. However, giving the likely nature of a slow process of compromise and with legislative and presidential elections set for 2017, Kurdistan may well have to wait for next elections to achieve a breakthrough.

Kurdish parties cannot afford to focus on short-term measures to bridge divides. Greater unity, especially outside of Kurdistan borders, should be a red line if Kurdistan wants to achieve its long-term dreams.

The new historical passage for the Kurds amidst the unravelling Middle East places Kurdistan into a dominant strategic position and ever closer to independence.

However achieving statehood, the dream of all Kurds, is a lofty task if the region itself cannot find greater unity, a shared vision and a long-term strategy when it’s facing grave security dangers and economic crises.

The imperial powers had already tainted Kurdistan by forcefully dividing and annexing the Kurdish regions to neighbouring states; however, Kurds are not helping themselves with further divisions in the respective segments.

Kurds are already looking across to see how the United States President-elect Donald Trump could benefit the Kurdish position. But with globalization on the decline, a new anti-establishment mindset in the US, rising Russian influence and the European Union braced for right-wing revivals, the world is braced for more change and unpredictability.

As history has proven, Western interests will always be through the narrow lens of their governments. At the same time, Kurds should not expect Baghdad, Ankara or Tehran to come running to solve their economic crisis or defend their region.

A polarized Kurdistan, faced with economic difficulties, increasing social unrest and political deadlock will only undermine the Kurdish position.

These unique historical junctures do not come often. After suffering for decades under repressive regimes and a second class status, Kurds are in a position to rewrite their own destiny. This is an opportunity that they dare not waste.

First Published: Kurdistan 24

The implications of the PUK-Gorran deal on the Kurdistan political scene

The recent agreement between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement (Gorran) serves to shake up the Kurdish political scene from a number of angles.

The once unthinkable deal was declared a win-win by both sides but highlighted the difficult state of Kurdish politics as it traverses through a highly sensitive juncture in its history.

Gorran broke away from the PUK in 2009 and this new agreement feels more like a reunion after a bitter divorce. Gorran’s rise was all about shaking up the political scene and promoting a populist agenda that sought to the break duopoly in Kurdistan.

But although Gorran commands a respectable number of seats in parliament (24), it has witnessed the limitations of populist movements and working in the shadows of KDP-PUK. Gorran has limited influence over the things that really matter such as security, foreign relations and finances.

PUK on other hand has been navigating through its own crisis in recent years especially in light of embarrassing ballot defeats to Gorran and a leadership crisis as their long-time leader Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.

PUK was essentially been carried by the KDP and thus it’s traditional counter-weight role to the KDP was lost.

The KDP have been uncontested leaders of Kurdistan political scene ever since PUK went to decline and Gorran, although a popular party could do little more than work as an opposition force and a nuisance in parliament.

Therefore, it was unsurprising that the PUK-Gorran deal was met with great skepticism by the KDP. They see it as a union to undermine their strong hand in Kurdish affairs.

As the PUK and Gorran vowed to enter the 2017 elections on the same ballot, it simultaneously ends the old strategic alliance between the PUK and KDP. The KDP currently holds 38 seats in parliament as opposed to Gorran which has 24 and PUK 18. In other words, PUK-Gorran alliance would become the biggest bloc, unleashing a scramble for seats from Islamic Parties.

The Islamic Parties find themselves in a strong position as wild-cards. They will insist on range of demands and then have the task of choosing either the KDP or PUK-Gorran.

The PUK-Gorran deal will inevitably serve to dilute KDP influence and grip on Kurdish affairs but things in Kurdistan are never that easy. The KDP will play its own strategic cards in face of the changing political scene.

Whilst the PUK-Gorran deal will help break the current political deadlock in one way or another, it also threatens to intensify the old dividing lines between KDP and PUK administrations and stoke a new phase of disunity.

At the same time, such disunity will open the doors for Turkey, Iran and other powers to take advantage through meddling in economic, military and strategic ties.

Either way, the matter should not be about what is best for KDP, PUK or Gorran. This is not merely a game between political parties for the top positions or score settling between the respective party leaders.

It ultimately has to benefit the Kurdish people and that of Kurdistan. Anything less than, will serve as a great setback to Kurdistan at a sensitive stage in its history.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

Working together for reform is the only real answer

The demonstrations and public outcries that have gripped the city of Suleimaniya have  now entered well over two months, now one of the longest across the whole of the Middle Eastin recent months. While the events have dominated the streets, parliament and various media, the current downward spiral in affairs threatens to serve as a destructive aspect in the Kurdish socio-political horizon, rather than the significant milestone in the Kurdish national renaissance that it deserves to be.

Escalating violence on the streets and the current reprisals by the security forces is a one way ticket to local and regional doom for all ofKurdistan.

For a region destructed by decades of repression and neglect, the developments and achievements in the Kurdistan Region over the past twenty years have been remarkable. However,   Kurdistan desperately needs a new passage of evolution, a new emphasis on stability, modernisation and the building of bridges across all parts of Kurdistan.

The need for reform in Kurdistanis not a secret. Kurdistan needs reform, economic liberalisation, a new direction and an injection of political vibrancy to prevent the current experiment becoming stale and counter-productive.

All sides, including the ruling parties, have openly admitted the new for reform, to fight corruption, bureaucracy and to shake-up the current system. What is now needed is a clear plan of action on exactly how this will be done and more importantly to what extent this will be done. Saying change or reform is required is one thing, a clear scope for this programme with timescales, objectives and measurables is another.

This reform can only be achieved via the formation of independent committees that oversee the implementation of the whole process.

While recently there was some promising signs that the current deadlock could be broken through round-table negotiations with all political parties present, escalating clashes between protestors and security forces and more conflict in parliament has seemingly widened the gap between both camps.

As protesters ignored a ruling last week by the authorities banning demonstrations, further clashes are more likely at this stage than any period of peace.

At the heart of any attempt to break this deadlock must be compromise. If the political parties have a real and genuine desire to break this impasse then compromise is of paramount importance. Gorran movement in particular has a golden opportunity to seize the initiative by negotiating with the ruling parties and to be seen as a constructive political force inKurdistan. After all, the goal of any opposition is ultimately to attain power. However, this can only be done by showing political might and building a popular support at the polls. This can not be achieved by refusing to back down on any of their 22-point demands, walking out of parliamentary sessions or by fuelling instability in Suleimaniya.

The demands of the protestors are legitimate –Kurdistan needs change, economic liberalisation, decentralisation of governance and security forces and a new political direction, but the demonstrations have clearly been politicised. Protestor demands are often a step more than the opposition demands to give an impression of more leniency from Gorran but essentially the two are inter-twinned.

One of the key stumbling blocs has been the opposition’s insistence on dissolution of the government before the setup of a transitional government and finally national elections.

Both the KDP and the PUK have issued a number of statements dismissing the need for an interim government, which they say has no constitutional grounding.

On this note, the burning question is whether the incumbent powers can instil the much needed change that protestors demand and the opposition try to deliver from a political perspective. Regardless of who remains in power, this crisis can only be resolved by every party becoming involved in the initiative and working together with a genuine desire for reconciliation and resolution.

Clearly, the call for new elections is a welcome step but if no reforms have been commonly agreed, planned or implemented or the region continues to become overshadowed with instability and uncertainty then new elections may in fact exasperate the situation.

Whether it is conducted by the existing government, who after all were elected by a majority less than two years ago or by an interim government, the constraints and key objectives remain the same. Regardless of a reshuffle, all parties must sit together to agree a reform package, timescales and measurable factors for its implementation.

Reforms and the shape of such packages must be well in advance of any elections. The voices of the people never lie and therefore the elections will soon show just which political party has the common support or the mandate to rule once more.

Politicians in Kurdistan, regardless of the party affiliation, are in place for one reason and one reason only. They are elected by the people to serve their needs, demands and their state. At this critical juncture, the political parties must be the ones looking to fight for the votes of the people and looking to get the upper hand through the polls. This is why the role of the opposition, if used affectively, can never be underestimated. It puts pressure and a checkpoint for the government, which in turn should result in the ruling parties upping the ante to remain in power and maintain their support base.

However, while the ruling parties clearly have their own deficiencies, it is far from clear how affective the opposition parties would be in power. Can they make a great difference to the political arena?

It’s easy to forget the many of the current political actors within the opposition have been a part of the problem. They have been a part of the onset of the current predicament in Kurdistan in one form or another. They can not now assume that they are saints and all others are the real sinners.

At the end of the day, this is not about KDP, PUK or Gorran, this should only be about Kurds and Kurdistan. This is the only reason why any political party should have any remit to operate.

Kurdistan has already been divided by imperial powers, but the Kurds seemingly persist to divide themselves into even further pieces.

What has become evident in recent weeks is that the further the instability and political gulf increases, the more the polarisation of Kurdistan ensues. As events have unfolded, there have been some signs of cracks even with the ruling parties and the ruling alliance.

Only this week Barham Salih, the current Prime Minister of Kurdistan, apparently offered to resign his position claiming that “the current leadership of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is not able to go along with the new situation”.

One of the reasons the dissolution of the current government has been staunchly rejected may well have been on the part of the PUK. With their seats dwindling significantly from the last elections, the loss of a key leadership position has become a red-line.

Furthermore, with the proviso that elections will be contested by individual parties and not alliances, the PUK may come out weaker once more. The KDP may currently share power on the surface, but they are calling the shots and it knows as the undisputed majority that they may essentially be ‘carrying’ the PUK.

While the PUK may have dwindled politically, it does not mean that its military might dwindled exponentially. Therefore, this will create an intriguing dilemma for the security forces, if Gorran continues to rise at the polls filling any vacuum left by the PUK. If Gorran controls the governance but the PUK the streets, it’s a sure bet of more violence and conflict in the future.

Any reform or change will not happen overnight, but the steps to implementing the necessary changes can. For example, before any reform measures are taken, the security forces that have open fired on protestors, protestors that used weapons, those responsible for highly regrettable crime of burning and looting of Nalia TV, those forces that have attacked journalists and the media, must come to justice.

Clearly, before the politicians get to work on creating a brighter future for Kurdistan, the debris from the current fall-out must be unconditionally, unambiguously and impartially cleared.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc.

Moving forward in Kurdistan and setting the stage for change

As demonstrations and protests across Sulaimanyia rage past its third week, what is resoundingly clear is that the Kurdistan government needs a detailed plan of action to deal with grievances and to cater for the demands and voices of the people. Ultimately, it’s the people that sway governance, and leaders and politicians can only assume power based on jurisdiction, stewardship and mandate from the people.

At the end of the day, when the people talk the politicians must listen. The reason is simple, other than the evident fact that politicians are elected to serve the people, above all the very people that bring you to power, can just as easily take you off it. However, the basis for this is purely by democratic, constitutional and non-violent means.

Whilst an aurora of negativity and hopelessness has somewhat underpinned the current situation in Kurdistan, the events that have unfolded should be heralded as potentially serving as the crucial milestone in the democratic, political and social evolvement of the Region.

If utilised affectively, the much publicised protests and heated political discussions can serve as the launch pad to a greater Kurdistan.

All sides including the KRG have openly admitted the need for reform. It’s no secret that Kurdistan has many deficiencies that if not addressed pragmatically and systematically will hamper the Kurdish national existence.

The question is not whether Kurdistan needs reforms but it is finding common ground on what aspects require reform, the extent of the reforms and how the reforms will be implemented.

Any reform package needs to be unanimously agreed in parliament with clear responsibilities, timescales and no ambiguity in the mechanism for its implementation.

For this affective reform to take place, the ruling parties and the opposition must work closely together.  A balanced, constructive and partisan atmosphere is required for such motions to prove successful.

With the Gorran Movement facilitating as the first real opposition in Kurdistan, this was undoubtedly a major accomplishment in the Kurdish democratic lifecycle. An affective opposition is needed in any democracy to act as a check for the performance and actions of the government and to act as the pressure point to induce the government into real change.

The opposition should serve as a reminder to the ruling parties that should they fail, then there is another party ready to assume the mantle. The onset of opposition should highlight to the government that real results are needed, that they need to raise the bar in winning over the people and fulfilling electoral pledges, because if they don’t then a real competitor is ready to pounce.

Just take a look at the Labour party in the UK, after a number of landslide victories over the Conservative party, they were emphatically ousted last year as the people lost trust and patience, much as they had done with Tory rule prior to 1997. Now, the conservative led coalition is under fierce pressure to deliver on their election promises and ensure that reforms they have proposed are implemented affectively.

The labour party, far from downbeat, are already sharpening their political knives to win the people over once more.

However, Gorran has many deficiencies of its own in terms of its approach to assuming power and dismantling the current government. In this light, Gorran has failed thus far to showcase itself as a viable alternative power. Gorran lacks a clear programme or political manifesto to highlight what it intends to do once it is in power and exactly how they intend to enact the changes needed in Kurdistan that they supposedly epitomise.

Gorran needs to work more as a productive force than a destructive force in propelling the Kurdistan Region to new prominence and evolvement. What Kurdistan now needs is a national opposition party and not just a localised opposition movement. The elections in 2009 clearly showed that the KDP and PUK still mustered a significant support base.

The recent events in Sulaimanyia have illustrated the polarised nature of the Kurdish political landscape. Just this week, marking the 20th anniversary of the Kurdish uprising, one side of Sulaimanyia was in fierce protests whilst another PUK dominated side were waving political flags and orchestrating political rallies. When anti-government and pro-government camps become entrenched, it commonly highlights the lack of moderate voices and balanced approach to fermenting change and ultimately it is the people that suffer.

Clearly, those who state that the KRG has achieved nothing are short-sighted as are those who claim that the government has no deficiencies. There have been tremendous achievements in the Kurdistan Region in a short time period. However, this should in no way whatsoever serve as an excuse by the ruling parties to devolve, rest on their laurels and overlook the corruption, extensive bureaucracy, lack of public services and missing political accountability that is also rife.

As such the proposition by Kurdistan President Massaud Barzani to hold new elections must be embraced as a significant and bold step. It is just the right tonic to settle upset political stomachs in the region. This move, which was a clear stipulation by Gorran must endorsed and not diluted by further unrealistic demands. The calls by Gorran for the dissolution of the government prior to elections bear no weight.

This is the same government that was overwhelmingly elected by the people less than two years ago under the watchful eye of the international community. This government remains the legitimate authority of the Kurdistan people. In any Western country, even when there has been widespread condemnation of the government or a serious political storm where new elections have been called, governments have not been dissolved prior to the holding of the elections.

In an extraordinary session in parliament this week, the current KRG cabinet survived a vote of no confidence by a clear majority. Now the government needs to urgently investigate the unfortunate attacks on the media outlets, the attack on the KDP offices, the most tragic killing of a number of protestors and the burning of Gorran buildings.

Reform packages will not be implemented overnight or in mere weeks, it will likely be the job of the next elected government to carry out proposed reforms. In the meantime, now is when electoral campaigning should begin. All political parties should make clear their political manifesto and programmes and then it’s down to the people to ultimately decide who they trust to deliver to them.

New elections are an important step at this sensitive juncture as it’s a chance for political parties and politicians to renew oaths and validity with their people. Political parties need to retain the trust of the people and renew the mandate from the people to rule once more. This is why without new elections and clear choice of the people, the situation in Kurdistan will have deteriorated into a nightmare political scenario.

At the end of the day, the voice of the people either at the ballot box or on the streets doesn’t lie. Therefore, whoever wins the next elections is the undisputed choice of the people to run the next government.

The main political parties in Kurdistan should run on separate lists, this way it can be clear who attained the votes and ensure power is representative of the will of the people.  It also makes the election process more transparent by having clear choices on the electoral lists.

Regardless of who comes to power, there needs to be an impartial reform committee to oversee the proposed changes and reform packages on the table. Reform can only take place through the Kurdistan parliament and must have the overall consensus of all parties. Negotiations require moderation and compromise and can never be one-sided.

While positive seeds are potentially sown in Kurdistan in hoping of bringing evolvement, prosperity and new opportunity, it will be criminal to forget that Kurdistan is an entity that still suffers from great handicaps in Iraq and the Region. The stance of the Kurdish parties must be differentiated between the importance of serving Kurds in Kurdistan and the serving of Kurdistan in Iraq. Disunity at home must not be at the expense of Kurdistan national interests in Baghdad.

While key reforms are implemented in Kurdistan, the list of key demands made by Kurds in the Iraqi government negotiations must not be overlooked. The Kurdish politicians should be squarely held accountable if any of these 19 points are not achieved as much as the reform packages that need to be implemented internally.

Let there be no doubt to any Kurdish party, internal Kurdish issues can never be resolved in Baghdad. As a nation that fought bitterly for self-rule and federalism, Kurdish issues should remain within the Kurdistan parliament which was created for this clear purpose.

Its time for Kurdistan to move on and build for the future.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc.

Placing the events in Kurdistan within context

The winds of change that have swept across the Middle East have been nothing short of remarkable and a breeze of fresh air in the decades of poisonous policies, repression and social stagnation that has suffocated the people.

It is easy to forget that only 20 years ago, Kurdistan was subject to the same barbaric rule and wide scale suffocation under the oppressive Baathist regime. Great credit must go to the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan people for their bravery, determination and the largely bloodless manner in which they have arisen and orchestrated their phenomenal social revolutions.

In the midst of the great hysteria that has been created by alarming developments in Suleimaniya where week-long demonstrations have resulted in 3 dead and over 100 wounded, the situation in Kurdistan has been blown out of context.

The idea that the current Kurdistan regime should be assessed in the same breadth as the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan dictators who have ruled with an iron-fist for literally decades is wide of the mark.

This fact is not designed to hide, diminish or obscure the reality that Kurdistan is in need of significant reform, or to conceal the corruption, nepotism or centralisation of the economy and the media that has plagued the development of Kurdistan.

There is a fundamental basis for the propagation of evolution in the Kurdistan Region but any notion promoting revolutionary uprising lacks perspective. There is no denying that Kurdistan needs change a clear plan for reform and the politicians need the right tonic for accountability, pressure to deliver and transparency in their work.

Kurdistan is need of a more liberal economy, independent judicial system, more independent media, more accountability and less bureaucracy.

However, the notion that Kurdistan is undemocratic and that the people live under an authoritarian cloud is simply mustered by people wishing to greatly diminish Kurdish advancement and a strike a blow at their strategic goals.

While the Gorran Movement has clearly been a welcome development in the Kurdish democratic experience, providing the first real opposition in parliament, great responsibility falls on them as well as the ruling parties.

If Gorran can instigate the reform and addressing of the deficiencies that have been highlighted earlier in this article, then this will be nothing short of a positive contribution and a milestone for the Region. But Gorran, who has an undoubted support base, must also take full accountability that their strong statements calling for the dissolving of the government and questioning the impartiality of the security forces amongst others are simply unproductive.

Gorran accepted the outcome of the elections in 2009, so if the elections were so badly plagued and do not reflect the will of the majority, why then wait until now to renounce the elections? Furthermore, the elections were orchestrated under heavy monitoring and international observation and were in the main deemed fair and representative elections by the various bodies.

Unlike other countries in the region, the people had a number of parties to choose from and a number of candidates to select in the presidential race.

Any show of people on the streets, be it in the tens, hundreds or thousands, must be taken seriously and by no means is the protests in Suleimaniya to be taken lightly. Peaceful protests are an important way for people to be heard and the government must take stock of their demands. Furthermore, the actions that resulted in the deaths of three protestors must be investigated to the full extent of the law.

The ability of the people to peacefully protest and express their public discontent is one of the cornerstones of democracy. However, under any law especially in the UK and the US, demonstrations must not infringe the rights and liberties of others, induce vandalism or propagate violence.

The small group of demonstrators who turned on the KDP building in Suleimaniya were after only thing – mass controversy and publicity. Exactly who orchestrated this deviation from the mainly peaceful protests is open to debate, but clearly the intention was to manipulate these events to portray the government as barbaric and merciless towards any opponents of its rule. A regional hand in these affairs can not be ruled out – this form of instability and tension can play in the hands of many an adversary of the Kurdish region.

In light of a lack of evidence, claims and counter claims have been all too frequent. The events have clearly polarised opinion from anti-Gorran or anti-government. After the riots and attack on the KDP offices, the fires were inevitably stoked further with the burning of the Gorran buildings in the KDP controlled areas.

Security forces should have done all they can to protect the KDP building in Suleimaniya, whilst with the knowledge that Gorran offices would have become an evident target in the KDP controlled areas, those offices should also have been guarded.

The onus is now on the government to fully investigate all these events and show clearly to the people that as the ruling authority that they will not take any such matters lightly.

But clearly, the events in Suleimaniya are not reflective of the will of the greater sections of the Kurdish people. There were no demonstrations or uprising in the provinces of Duhok or Erbil.

Ironically, the KDP has little sway over the Suleimaniya powerbase which has long been administered by the PUK. Even then, the current administrative and political foundations in Suleimaniya have been contributed to by the Gorran movement. After all, they were directly or indirectly a technical and administrative part of the current setup for so long.  Through attacks on KDP office and subsequent reprisal attacks on Gorran offices, the aim by some elements was to turn the events into a national furore.

Unlike the recent events in North Africa, where the majority regardless of class or social background rose up, the events of the past week do not represent a national uprising.

Both the KDP and PUK still muster strong support and in the event of any future election they are likely to attain the majority of votes once again. At the present time, Gorran’s support is regional and not entrenched nationally. If Gorran rises as a political force due to a genuine and increasing support base, then this can only be embraced.

Above all the unfortunate events, it must not be forgotten that be it Gorran, PUK or KDP, that every party is empowered to serve the Kurds and Kurdistan. No party should work towards their own interests, but only for the interest of their people.

The current controversies, burning of political offices and endemic media attacks only serve the opponents of the Kurdistan Region.

No events in Kurdistan must detract from the importance of unity in Baghdad. Any discussions on internal shortfalls of the Kurdistan region in the Baghdad parliament will hardly be met with positive ears by Arab parties.

Without a doubt disunity has long been a Kurdish downfall. All the political parties must come together to enhance Kurdish goals and resolve current disputes with the Baghdad government including Kirkuk and oil sharing.

Many a Kurdish politician has taken the status of Kurdistan for granted. Kurdistan is still fresh in its existence and its foundations have yet to even dry.

The meeting of all the political parties with view to reaching consensus and common grounding is a positive development. Escalating tension and resentment is to the detriment of every side.

Kurdistan needs more moderates, balanced media and more of those who seek reconciliation. In addition to the highly regrettable deaths, the attack and burning of the NRT TV station after their coverage of events was most unfortunate.

Rogue elements who decided to take matters in their own hand to “punish” NRT, only paint a bad picture for the whole administration.

Those who claim that nothing has been achieved in Kurdistan for the past 20 years or so are short-sighted. Only 20 years ago, Kurdish lives were tainted with misfortune, suffering and destruction. Kurdistan was the long-time warzone of Iraq. It had no infrastructure and a basic economy, let alone any political representation or international recognition.

Progress in Kurdistan in the short time since liberation has been nothing short of remarkable. The ruling parties (including members that now constitute Gorran) have played a strong had in the gains and current status-quo. However, by no means should this represent an excuse to stagnate, to ignore the need for reform or not to evolve in the many channels required.

Any party that rests on their laurels and takes their power base for granted leads to degenerative politics, this is why the role of Gorran as a real opposition force is so important – it should ferment the right pressure and productive hand to ensure the governments improves and raises the bar in standards, for the benefit of the people and the Region.

Any opposition group is there to seek power, if Gorran want to win the next election then the onus is on them to entice the people with a clear manifesto and plans for reform. But the playing field is politics and affective campaigning, not means of sensationalism and mass controversy. Gorran must prove that they will not succumb to the same corruption and bureaucracy if they come to power.

In summary, no events should mask the fact that Kurdistan is need of great reform and evolvement, but the path towards this is through democratic channels and on the basis of propelling the interest of Kurds and Kurdistan, no one else.

Whether you are KDP, PUK or Gorran, your only remit is to serve the very people who have elected you. It is time for all these major parties to come around the table and prove to their citizens that they will do all they can for the benefit of Kurdistan, democracy and unity.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc.

In the midst of a new Middle Eastern storm, Kurdistan needs evolution not revolution


A socio-political earthquake has arrived in the Middle East that threatens to bury a number of regimes and rulers with it.

The notion of transformation and democratisation in the Middle East has been a long-established taboo that has seemingly been smashed in a matter of weeks.

Much like the last wave of global political revolution that swept the world with the collapse of Communism in the early 90’s, the newest political hurricane has come in the Middle East with the dramatic ousting of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power providing the catalyst for change and popular uprisings.

When the majority combine, there is no greater weapon than the notion of people power. No amount of tanks or artillery can save a government when the masses relentlessly rise against them.

Emboldened by their neighbours, the current Egyptian protests and uprising gathers momentum with every passing day. After well over two weeks of fierce battles with police, clashes with pro-government supporters and emphatic anti-government rallies, the Egyptian people simply refuse to accept anything less than the end of the reign of Hosni Mubarak now. After much pressure finally Hosni Mubarak stepped down last Friday and Egyptian military took power.

Prior to Mubarak resignation the much pressurised government had already made a number of concessions and met with opposition groups in recent weeks but with an unabated thirst across the social spectrum and a national desire that has given them an unprecedented upper hand, the people refused to buckle.

Mubarak has had a tight grip on Egyptian society for over 30 years, with a state of emergency law that is still in force today. Politician opposition has been met with little tolerance, while corruption has been rife and freedoms have been restricted.

The successful “Jasmine revolution” of Tunisia has led to many a regional government looking over their shoulders. The threat of large scale protests and social upheaval has already seen some pre-emptive concessions in Jordan and Yemen, while anti-government rallies have been witnessed in Algeria.

Ironically, even as flag-bearers for democratisation and liberation in the region, such change was not necessarily embraced with open arms by the US at the beginning. As the protests gathered momentum and the will of the Egyptian people grew stronger, so did the calls of the Washington administration for controlled and more immediate change. There was certain reluctance to call for the removal of Mubarak altogether and later after Mubarak agreed not to stand for re-election in September, for him to leave office immediately.

The stance and support to regimes such as Mubarak, demonstrated the double-barrelled nature of US policy. As much as the need to stand against repressive regimes in the Middle East in the Cold War era was offset against the threat of communism, in the same way inconsistent American policy and stance towards the democratization of the Middle East today is offset against the new threat of Islamist radicalism.

The US is a long-time ally of Mubarak where they provided billions of dollars of aid and relied on his authority to maintain a sense of regional equilibrium. Israel is another party that eagerly anticipates how the new winds of change may affect its position in the Middle East and the Palestinian peace process. Like the US, it would have preferred for its relative ally in Mubarak to stay in power.

After all, change can be a loose term especially in the Middle East. A popular revolution happened in Iran in 1979, which the West even today try to reverse in some form or another.

The wave of change and optimism that is sweeping the region is just what is needed to shake age old mentalities and prevailing systems of government. The great fear for the West is to now ensure that vacuums are not filled by Islamists or the likes of Iran.

One thing is certain, the changes and social sentiment in Egypt are not reversal. The fear factor of people fed up with the status-quo has all but evaporated. With the advent of globalization, the world is exponentially smaller and the power of mass media means that events such as those in Egypt where thousands speak out simply can not be ignored.

The after-shock of the past four weeks in the Middle East will be felt for generations to come. Much like the slogan of Karl Marx that underpinned Communism, indeed the people “have nothing to lose but their chains”.

The tipping point in Tunisia and Egypt has been the stark degradation in social and economic welfare. High unemployment, soaring inflation and a lack of hope is the icing on the cake that has come with common repression, corruption and state control. When people deem that they have nothing to live for, they simply have nothing to lose.

Such economic conditions are not unique to Egypt and have plagued the likes of Yemen, Syria and Jordan. People are unwilling to endue suffering indefinitely when their governments and the minority upper class reap the rewards of their fate. People are less inclined to accept silence and are more knowledge in terms of demands and expectations.

Events in Egypt sparked a political row in Kurdistan when the Gorran opposition movement called for the dissolution of the current Kurdish government amongst other demands.

Whilst there are certainly many strides left to make in Kurdistan, democracy is much more advanced and the region simply can not be compared to Egypt. However, this doesn’t mean that the establish political elite in Kurdistan rest on their laurels and breath a sigh of relief.

Kurdistan is need of reform and this is by the own admission of the current governance. In addition to more transparency, advancement of independent media and a fight against corruption, the KRG needs to ensure the right economic foundations are in place.

While the economy in Kurdistan is growing at a rapid pace, their needs to be a firm eye on the ever growing rich-poor divide and the establishment of a more liberal market place. The rising cost of living in Kurdistan is an evident danger with ever increasing land and property prices. An unhealthy proportion of the public rely directly upon the government for employment and their day-to-day living, and this always risks becoming the basis of a future backlash.

While the demands by the Gorran movement were unrealistic and clearly designed to stoke anger and strong reactions from the ruling parties, any productive and healthy governance needs the right pressure socially and politically to proactively change. While the Kurdish government still enjoys strong public support, this can not be taken for granted. The main political parties realize that as much as they have a strong grounding for support, there are also plenty of those who oppose the government and could potentially cause political and social havoc.

At the end of the day, what Kurdistan needs is evolution and not a revolution. The region has made tremendous strides in a short time period but this is not excuse to stagnate, devolve and not to expand the democratic experience.

In any true democracy, it is the people that should continually pressurize the government for continual improvements. They are elected by the people to serve the people. Governments and political parties should adapt and change towards the people and common society and not the other way around.

As for the greater Middle East, the winds of change will not necessarily herald a peaceful and productive transition to a new reality. It will take much time and guidance to ensure the right kind of government and legislation takes the place of those that depart.

As we have witnessed in Iraq, democracy is not a “one size fits all” product that can be easily applied in midst of a legacy of repression.

Change will take time in the Middle East, but the current wave is a fresh breeze in the midst of mass repression and totalitarianism that has become the by-product of the region.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: eKurd, Various Misc.

The democratic will of the people cannot be ignored

As a tense political climate ensues in Kurdistan ahead of the critical national elections in March, the notion of change and evolution must be embraced, however, at a crucial historical juncture the Kurds must be careful to guide their region towards a new dawn and not a tainted past.

There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction” – Winston Churchill

Whilst democracy is a fledgling phenomenon in Iraq and not without its fair share of deficiencies and impediments, it is nevertheless a remarkable milestone and the national elections of 7th March 2010 provide a chance for millions of Iraqis to be heard.

It is down to the people to voice their vote but ultimately down to the politicians to deliver.

Iraq faces a tense battle on many fronts as people eagerly await the electoral result. However, the notion of “change” must surely be at the pinnacle of any political manifesto if the next 5 years is to be successful.

This change comes in a number of forms. Same foot dragging over constitutional issues, budget and resource sharing, lack of reconciliation, chauvinist mentalities of the past or a government who those not want to truly embrace democratic values, compromise and critically the voice of the very people they have been voted to serve then Iraq can be guaranteed one thing – the next 5 years will be as unproductive, tiresome and problematic as ever.

Without the need for a greater change on many political levels, the same thorny issues put on ice over the past five years such as resolving disputed boundaries will lie in stalemate in 5 years time. Or worse still, without a flexible and all encompassing democratic apparatus, violent resolution of these issues.

New political horizon in Kurdistan

Remarkable progress on political, economic and social levels has been made in less than two decades since the liberation of Kurdistan. However, Kurdistan now finds itself at a critical crossroad.

One that can truly propel it to a new standing both within Iraq and the Middle East, or one that will only induce echoes of past infighting, disunity and bureaucratic governance.

The progress of the Change Movement or Gorran from literally the backdoor to a major opposition as a result of the Kurdistan parliamentary elections last July, where it won a credible 25 seats or 23.57% of the vote, speaks volumes.

The basis for this new political horizon is in essence revealed in the name itself – “change”. This motion is reflected in the millions of Kurds, who demand changes to living standards, political reform and more transparency.

However, change itself is a loose word. Whether Gorran is a direct rival of the PUK only or is a viable and affective alternative voice for all of Kurdistan remains to be seen.

The onus is on Gorran to push through the very ideal of change people have identified with them. This means that the plan for change needs to be structured, coordinated and implemented. The ruling elite in the KDP and PUK may embrace a common desire for change, but this change must be shepparded in the right direction and for results that will benefit the greater Kurdistan region both internally and in Baghdad.

A new direction

A popular demand for change and the new political competitiveness should not mean disunity and crippling of Kurdish national interests. All Kurdish politicians have been elected by Kurds to serve Kurds.

There is nothing wrong with internal political jostling or heated campaigning, but such a destructive atmosphere in the form of media campaigns, grave insults and accusations, harsh exchange of words between leaders and violence guarantees only one thing – a big smile on the face of Kurdish adversaries.

Uncertainty of electoral outcome

There is fierce political jockeying in Kurdistan with more at stake than ever. The PUK dominance particularly in Sulaimanyia and Kirkuk has been challenged and the national elections will only reaffirm the views of the people.

With the new open-candidate list system serving to potentially further influence the PUK power sharing with KDP, there has been a lot of media coverage around the “demise” of the PUK.

Talk of such a decline is premature but one thing is certain – democracy practiced in a fair and just way does not lie. The results are derived from the opinions and choice of the people and it is the will and choice of such people that must be protected and placed first.

This is the very essence of a healthy democracy and facilitating change in the right direction. If the bar has been raised as a result of the new political climate in Kurdistan, then the onus is on the likes of the KDP and PUK to raise the stakes, adopt reform and change the minds of the people. Any political system where politicians can rest on their laurels, only guarantees slow progress, corruption and lack of services to the people.

By the same token, the Gorran movement becoming a major force in Kurdistan is only a starting point. There is no compulsion in a healthy democracy and just as easily as millions can vote for you, millions can vote against you if their expectations are not met or if political promises are not fulfilled.

The KDP and PUK hierarchies must ensure the protection of such political parties and ensure that battle is done in the ballot boxes and not on the streets.

Kurdish role in Baghdad

Although Gorran and the Kurdistan Alliance will effectively campaign on two separate lists in the national elections, this does not mean it should be to the detriment of Kurdistan.

The overall strategic goals of the Kurds must be strengthened and not undermined as a result of the new Kurdish political awakening.

This does mean that the Gorran can now use its leverage to pressure the KDP and PUK into change or to introduce elements of its philosophies, which is only natural if you muster such a significant portion of votes. However, this should not mean that personal and political vendettas should see this new climate turn into a Kurdish nightmare.

This is about the Kurdish people and Kurdistan not supporting one group over another or turning this into a social or dynasty battle in Kurdistan.

The Kurds will once again have a kingmaker role in the next government, and their support for any coalition in Baghdad must see Kurds attain firm guarantees for their strategic goals in return.

Tense climate in Kurdistan

The recent heated debates and walkout in the Kurdish parliament, violent friction in the Sulaimanyia province and the anger over the alleged labelling of the Peshmerga forces by a Gorran MP as a militia, threatens to create a political and social divide in Kurdistan.

Such divide in the 90’s resulted in civil war and effectively meant that two Kurdistan administrations existed.

Status of Peshmerga forces

For Kurds, the word Peshmerga is etched in Kurdish folklore. Without the sacrifices and bravery of the thousands of such individuals who fought against repression and occupation, Kurdistan would never be where it is today.

Any labelling of the Peshmerga as a kind of militia is not only disrespectful and out of tone of Kurdish political standards and revered heritage but will undoubtedly incite Kurdish sentiments ahead of elections. This is something we become accustomed to hear from Baghdad, whose view of the Peshmerga as a militia is only to undermine the force and serve to weaken an element they see as a direct threat.

However, by the same token, politicisation of the forces should be discouraged at all costs. They should be embraced as a national Kurdish army to serve and protect all of Kurdistan. This is one example of where political polarisation of Kurdistan must change.

Uncertainty over the results of ballots and political anxiety should be seen as a sign of a healthy democracy. Politicians should fret over their performance at the polls and not walk into parliament via a red carpet.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Peyamner, Various Misc.

New political climate must not compromise Kurdistan

Let’s embrace the new democratic beginning in Kurdistan, not allow our historical disadvantages resurface.

With escalating tensions between Change Movement and PUK a real danger – further disunity, a historical Kurdish failing, will only handicap the Kurdistan Region and benefit Kurdish rivals

The unprecedented elections in the Kurdistan Region in July of last year, with the newly established Change Movement (CM or Gorran) winning a credible 25 seats in the Kurdistan parliament and for the first time installing real opposition in Kurdistan, was hoped to usher a new chapter in the Kurdish democratic experience.

CM was widely regarded as a movement reflecting the will of sections of the Kurdish population for reform, more transparency in government and better services. Either way, previous arch-rivals the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) had to battle side-by-side to win a majority at the election.

Whilst the region has been clearly dominated by the KDP and PUK since 1992, CM serves as a real challenge to the established elite in the region and a democratic phenomenon with popular support must be protected and indeed embraced as it should help raise the bar in Kurdish politics and it least in theory lead to a stronger region with the seeds of a more healthy democracy.

Escalating tensions

CM, headed by Nawshirwan Mustafa, was essentially formed as a result of bitter disputes within the PUK where Mustafa was a long-time senior deputy. As such CM posed the biggest danger to the Sulaimaniya province, a traditional bastion of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

While any talk of a political demise of the PUK are premature, who clearly still command significant following, the rise of CM posed a direct threat to the future standing of the PUK and increased weariness ahead of national elections.

The acrimonious departure of Mustafa and the subsequent emotive political jostling in the Sulaimaniya region, has naturally led to a rise in tensions. CM has alleged that political motives have been behind a spate of attacks on its members in recent weeks, a claim which officials have strongly denied.

Tensions between the once avid allies have been heightened by verbal attacks firstly by Talabani who made a number of brazen historical accusations at Mustafa, with Mustafa issuing his own counter statement.

It is unclear at this stage whether CM is merely a direct competitor to the PUK or one that can become a more region-wide power that can also challenge traditional KDP strongholds.

Dangers for Kurdistan

The verbal attacks and negative media campaigns that have been common in recent weeks is a strong detriment to Kurdish politics and democratic evolvement.

Whilst healthy competition at the ballots was most welcome and credible opposition is just the tonic to reenergise regional development and reform, history has taught the Kurds the great dangers of disunity, fierce rivalry and political violence.

Negative media campaigns must end for the benefit of the greater Kurdistan region as the Kurds enter a crucial year in their political existence with upcoming Iraqi national elections and a number of bitter disputes with Baghdad including status of Kirkuk, oil revenues and national budget.

The new dawn in Kurdish politics in the aftermath of the regional elections should not herald a negative era but one in which politicians and the established elite must rise to the challenge by evolving and winning over disgruntled supporters.

CM was not just a political group but for many a symbol of a popular desire to revitalise politics in the region. The group won a significant portion of the parliamentary seats and whilst they may not direct sway new legislation, it acts as a pressure point for the ruling parties.

On the back of this, the recent statement by Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani is a welcome tonic that should led to protection for CM but above all else preserve stability in the region. Negative media campaigns within Kurdistan between entities can only lead to one thing – negative media campaigns abroad for the whole of Kurdistan.

Significance of Iraqi election on Kurdistan

The Iraqi election in March of 2010 serves as an important gauge for the stability and the recent hard-won security gains, especially in light of the anticipated withdrawal of US forces in August of this year. However, the elections have just an important bearing on the political platform of Kurdistan on the back of the recent regional elections.

With CM running on a separate list, it once more highlights competition against the KDP-PUK headed alliance but now at a national level. The key battle ground will once again prove to be between the PUK and CM in Sulaimaniya and to a lesser extent in Kirkuk, where any significant electoral loss by the PUK will undoubtedly increase pressure on party leaders.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with competition and political jockeying, increased hostility between political rivals in Kurdistan will no doubt see the Kurds suffer at a crucial historical juncture.

Interestingly, the national elections will be run on an open-candidate system. With the PUK weakened by the advance of CM, this means that if voters choose to back more KDP candidates, then this will serve as a fresh blow to the PUK.

With CM claiming to win 20 seats at the national elections, the party hopes to reinforce their support and thus by the same token their rivalry in key Kurdish hotspots.  

All this marks a tumultuous time for Talabani if the PUK is seen to fare badly at the polls in his bedrock province of Sulaimaniya.

External actors

A long running handicap of the Kurds has been a lack of unity in recent history. This has been undoubtedly stoked in the past by weary neighbours and their governments keen to check Kurdish power by manipulating Kurdish differences.

Once again, tense political climate in Kurdistan may well be played by sides looking to diminish Kurdish power.

The short-term glee of Kurdish adversaries would be nothing short of seeing a destabilisation of their region and the Kurds wasting their collective energy on individual vendettas.

Whilst the PUK may not be directly involved in any violence against the CM, it should do all it can to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice for the sake of the PUK and the Kurdistan Region, not to forfeit blame in recent controversy.

Rising expectations

The Kurdistan region has come along way in less than two decades with increased stability and economic leverage. However, this relative rise in prosperity is coupled with growing expectations of the people, predominately amongst the youth.

While the nationalist card of the established elite in Kurdistan is still a strong beacon, demands and disgruntlement of the youth has arguably spurred CM support.

This by no means is a signal of a greater political revolution in Kurdistan, not just yet anyway. But it does mean that there is now direct pressure for results and change. This must come with increased accountability in government, more transparency and an independent judicial system,

The Kurds must ensure that the new political climate does not compromise Kurdistan in anyway. The Kurds can be politically divided, but the national interests of the Kurds should always be at the top of their manifesto. After all, they are all essentially working towards the same goals – preserving and enhancing Kurdish interests, which the people have voted them to perform.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Online Opinion, eKurd, Peyamner, Various Misc.

Unprecedented elections mark turning point in Kurdish democracy

Regardless of how opposition fares in elections, an important platform has been set for reform, prosperity and evolvement that should not be wasted.

The unprecedented, emotional and colorful election campaigns were concluded, and the time had come to cast votes on 25th July 2009, with millions of eager Kurds turning out on an historic Election Day.

While it may take days for result to be announced as the ballots boxes are counted, Kurds waiting anxiously can be sure of one thing, the election was just the right tonic to kick start sociopolitical development in the region, send a subtle jolt down the established elite in Kurdistan, embolden democracy in the region and crucially afford the Kurds the next platform on which to advance and prosper, in tentative and hostile times.

Regardless of how many seats Nawshirwan Mustafa’s refreshing political opposition, Goran (“change”) List, wins at these elections, they can be given huge credit for making the elections a competitive, energetic and taboo-breaking spectacle that can allow democracy and modernization in the region to assume the next gear.

Arguably, nowhere in the world have election campaigns been as passionate and colorful than in Kurdistan. The choice available at these elections, with 24 lists competing for 111-seats of the Kurdish National Assembly, ensured that political interest was rekindled in the region.

It is now the turn of the new political establishment after these elections to fulfill the promises to the people and ensure that the strong tides that have been created from these latest elections and the historic opportunity that it brings is not wasted.

The political battle scene

Traditional political heavyweights in the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) spearheaded by incumbent Kurdistan Region President, Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, may have been the fiercest of rivals in the past, but have united in recent elections under one banner.

This time under the Kurdistani List, they are expected to be confirmed as the victors at the polls once more. However, perhaps the fact that the two historic opponents have needed to battle side-by-side and unite as closely as ever to secure victory says much about the healthy nature of the electoral campaigning at this election.

The newest newcomer to the political fold in the region, the Goran List head by Mustafa, who broke away from the PUK leadership earlier this year, has proved to be greatest challenger to the status quo.

The influence of the new opposition

The support of the Goran List has seemingly gathered pace as the campaign bandwagon headed towards Election Day. The Goran List was as much of a political organization as a sociopolitical revolution in the region.

Their manifesto was simple, it promotes change in the political institutions and hierarchy of the region and is designed to serve as a different flavor and a distinct alternative for the Kurdish masses – arguably, what that they have lacked since the first historic Kurdish elections in 1992.

Goran has based its support on taking advantage of the disgruntled sentiments of large sections of the Kurdish population, who air common frustration at the current government.

A common theme has been Goran Lists determination to combat corruption and elitism in the region. It has accused key parties of been more interested in keeping power than undertaking necessary reform. Its support base has been mainly in the eastern parts of the Kurdistan Region, around the city of Sulaimaniya were it is expected to pose a huge challenge particularly to the traditional stalwarts of the area, the PUK.

It also has strong following amongst an expectant youth, who are frustrated with opportunities. Other frustrated voices have complained about living standards, bureaucracy and lack of employment.

The increasing productive role of the youth at these elections is most welcome, after all they are the very future of the region and as such political advancement, reform and prosperity cannot be achieved without their advent support, active involvement and direct interest.

The other key challengers are the Service and Reform List, an alliance comprising two Islamist parties, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and the Kurdistan Islamic Group and two leftist parties, the Toilers Party and the Social Democrat Party. They group has 18 seats in the current parliament, and a similar showing at the polls would significantly boost the power of the opposition alongside the Goran List.

The likely winners

Although Goran are expected to do make credible gains at the elections, this shouldn’t sway one away from the reality that both Barzani and Talabani still enjoy momentous support across the country. While the PUK support base may have been rocked around the Sulaimaniya region, it still enjoys popular support and the KDP still has formidable support particularly around Duhok.

The support base of the KDP and PUK is noticeable amongst old generation of Kurds, many of whom are veterans who fought in the tough days of discrimination and oppression, far from the relative prosperity and freedom of today.

The iconic and historic part that the KDP and PUK and their leaders have played in the situation of Kurdistan today is etched in Kurdish memory. However, this fact sits more deeply with the older Kurds, who suffered bitterly in the dark days of Baathist rule and feel a debt of gratitude and loyalty to the ruling parties.

While other supporters of the Kurdistani List point to the economic boom in recent years and Kurdish gains since 2003.

The youth inspired by opportunity, the possibility of migration to abroad and growing expectations are becoming less sympathetic to the nationalist card of these long-established parties.

Although, the added focus on the motion of change is a refreshing addition to the political scene and one which the Kurdistani List must pay heed, powerful and well-known incumbents are also a key prerequisite for Kurds to safeguard their gains in the region and in order to prosper economically and strategically in a hostile region.

Presidential elections

For the first time in Kurdish history, the president is to be chosen directly by the people. Kurdish nationalist icon and incumbent president, Massoud Barzani, is widely-expected to win the race by a landslide.

Much in the same as established parties give the region a stronger hand in difficult times, the appointment of Barzani in a second presidential term would serve as a boost to the region.

Barzani is a well known and respected figure, and one who airs the authority and experience that the fledging region still requires.

Barzani strikes the right balance between dealing strongly with neighboring countries whilst at the same time emphasizing the importance of mutual ties, which the region is greatly dependent upon. In particular, key issues with Baghdad such as article 140 and revenue sharing, requires a strong figure and a determined nationalistic mindset.

Barzani has expressed strong rhetoric in recent years on political reform and paying heed to the wishes of the people, there must now be strong pressure from the top in ensuring parliamentary promises are fulfilled. The example of reform and setting motions to deal with current perceived failings of the government must start from the very top.

The way forward

What is clear is that regardless of the election results, the next Kurdish parliament is under pressure to deliver, to change the system of government and press towards reform.

The Kurdistani List are likely to win the next elections, but they can rest on their laurels at their peril, with people now anticipating that the next 4 years will live up to the election campaign euphoria.

If there was any notion of political comfort from the ruling elite, then these elections should serve to change that. Certainly, if the people continue to be disgruntled with the KDP and PUK at the next elections, then their majority will erode even further.

The next government must ensure more transparency and accountability, with an independent and respected judiciary system underpinning the new order.

It is an ideal scenario for the region to finally have credible opposition in parliament. It not only emboldens democracy, but healthy competition is just the ingredient encourage to boost political progression.

The Kurdistani List will now have to contend with a major opposition in parliament, and the influence of the opposition will be noticeable on key regional policies, especially relations with Baghdad, where a more reconciliatory tone is likely.

These elections will undoubtedly server as a turning point in the Kurdish democratic experience.

Healthy competition from within, unity from the outside

No matter how competitive and heated election and political jockeying becomes, the main thing is to ensure that perception of unity is not distorted to the outside world.

Many elements from within Baghdad and neighboring countries, wish to capitalize on instability and political uncertainty and at the current time when important national fundamentals such resolving disputed territories and oil sharing are contentiously debated, a weakening of the regions hands would be highly counter-productive.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Peyamner, Various Misc.