| The Governmental Shift and Its Political Effects in The Kurdish Regional Government
|Bilgay Duman, ORSAM Middle East Specialist
| While the crisis in the central government is still trying be solved, the Kurdish Regional Government (Kurdish Regional Government) is facing a political transformation as well. In 2004, an agreement has signed between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). According to this agreement, Barham Salih, who is the member of PUK and the prime minister, resigned from the position of the prime minister and the task of forming government had been passed to the KDP led by Massoud Barzani. Additionally, it was agreed on that both the KDP and the PUK will govern successively two years in a total of four-year terms. Thereby, authority to form the government had been passed to Nechirvan Barzani, who is the former prime minister of the Kurdish Regional Government and the vice president of the KDP. Furthermore, the speaker and the deputy speaker of the Kurdish Regional Parliament had changed. The former parliamentary deputy speaker, Arslan Bayiz, had been promoted to the position of the parliamentary speaker and Hassan Muhammed Soor succeeded Bayiz.
Firstly, on February 15, 2012 the speaker and the deputy speaker of the Parliament have been elected in the assembly, which seventy two member of the Parliament attended out of a hundred and eleven. The next day, the Kurdish Regional Parliament, which seventy one member attended out of a hundred and eleven, granted the authority to form the government both to Nechirvan Barzani and Imad Ahmad, who is a member of PUK. Also it was announced that Kosret Resul, who was the secretary general of PUK, was promoted to the office of vice president of the Kurdish Regional Government, which has been vacant for two years. This transformation can be regarded as usual but it possesses reasons that can cause the crisis in the current situation. We can observe in the first phase that, the opposition had not attended the Parliament sessions, in which the promotion of the speaker of the Parliament and granting the authority to form the government were debated. In 2007, Nawshirwan Mustafa who was the vice president of the PUK had resigned and established a new party named Movement for Change(Gorran). Gorran has got twenty five seat in the Parliament in the 2009 Kurdish Regional Government elections. Furthermore, apart from the Gorran the opposition have four seats by the Kurdistan Islamic Union, four seats by the Islamic Group of Kurdistan, two seat by the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party and one seat by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Also, both the Erbil Turkmen List and the Kurdistan Communist Party have one seat each. Other than the KDP and the PUK, there are thirty eight opposition MPs in the parliament. In fact, it was observed that the opposition had not attended the assembly sessions, which has been done on February 15 and 16, 2012. In this respect, to receive a vote of confidence for the new government, which will be formed by Nechirvan Barzani, will not be easy. Because of that, Nechirvan Barzani made a number of visits to the opposition bloc which was led by the Gorran, Kurdistan Islamic Union and Islamic Group of Kurdistan before receiving the authority to form the government. Moreover, according to the announcement by the opposition on February 14, the opposition agrees to support Nechirvan Barzani and attend to the assembly session if seventy five percent of their requests is accepted. However, the opposition had not attended the assembly. It is regarded that the opposition wants to challenge the monopoly of the PUK and the KDP. This situation represents that Nechirvan Barzani will have a difficult challenge in forming the government.
On the other hand, this process may cause crisis for parties in the Kurdish Regional Government. Especially the faultlines within the KDP and the PUK remains in the situation that they might influence the ongoing process and even the future of the Kurdish Regional Government . Lately the future of the post-Massoud Barzani KDP and the Kurdish Regional Government has been debated. In this respect, Nechirvan Barzani, who is also nephew of Massoud Barzani, and Masrour Barzani, who is the son of Massoud Barzani and the chief of the intelligence of the Kurdish Regional Government, shine through. Nechirvan Barzani is the exposed face of the KDP but it is known that there is a dispute between him and Masrour Barzani. In the region, there are rumours that Nechirvan Barzani’s strong influence in both political and economic sphere annoys Masrour Barzani. According to some other rumours, the preferential treatment by Massoud Barzani towards Masrour Barzani annoys Nechirvan Barzani. Therefore, according to information, it is observed that there is a political polarization between Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani both in KDP and in the Kurdish Regional Government. Besides it is possible to mention that there is a reformist group in KDP, who objects the current tribal structure of the party. Hence, in order to satisfy this reformist group, in 2010 some amendments has been done in the internal regulations of the party.
On the other side, the PUK is more troubled. These troubles emerged in 2007 by the resignation of Nawshirwan Mustafa, who was the vice president of the PUK. But he maintained to be a member of the political bureauof the party. However, after he declared that he was going to participate in the election as an independent, he was removed from the political bureau of the PUK. He has established the Gorran and in the 2009 elections, he shocked the PUK and the KDP with the votes he got. Thus, it was the first time that opposition against the PUK and the KDP has emerged. Those circumstances caused great problems within the PUK and Osmani Hacı Mahmud, Celal Cevher, Mustafa Seyid Kadir and Omer Seyd Eli resigned from the party. Likewise, Kosret Resul, who has good relations with Nawshirwan Mustafa, resigned from party too but he was convinced by Jalal Talabani and he withdrew his resignation. It is regarded that, although Kosret Resul cancelled his resignation, the problems are still going on and Resul might use his alternatives in the future. On the other hand, Barham Salih, who is the former prime minister of the Kurdish Regional Government, is trying to unite a group, from the people, who are close to him. Also, it is discussed that, there is a dispute between Barham Salih and Kosret Resul. In this respect, power struggle in the party becomes more clear for the post-Talabani period. Yet, Jalal Talabani has critical health problems. However, the wife of Jalal talabani, Hero Talabani, sustains stability in PUK with her financial power. It is clear that, Jalal Talabani could not care much to the problems in the party after becoming the President also because of his health problems. It is expected that, there can be change, transformation, disputes and even armed struggle after Jalal Talabani. Although Nawshirwan Mustafa has established another party, it is known that there is a political polarization between Mustafa, Kosret Resul, Hero Talabani and Barham Salih.
In conclusion, governmental change in the Kurdish Regional Government must be considered in a wider aspect. This change is vital for the future of the Kurdish Regional Government and for the parties as well, which are in the political process, in the context of determining their position in the region. These circumstances will influence the current situation of the Kurdish Regional Government in the Iraqi domestic politics. As is known there are problems between the Kurdish Regional Government and the Central Government of Iraq. If the Kurdish Regional Government gets weaker because of the internal problems, it will lose power against the Central Government of Iraq. In this respect, the internal problems and weakening power of the Kurdish Regional Government along with the ongoing centralization process in Iraq, might bring about the dissolution of the regional government, although this is far from possible as far as the current situation is concerned. Furthermore, the rift and conflict between the PUK and the KDP in the 1990’s still remains fresh in the memories and the political situation in the north of Iraq becomes more complex by having more powerful actors in the region. Because of this, a Kurdish internal struggle can begin again. Thereby, what happened in Duhok in the last month of 2011, is a vital signal, which should not be underestimated.