Barzani’s Doubtful Future
By LTC Sargis Sangari and Steven Weingartner
The KRG parliament will convene tomorrow 24 OCT 2017 to approve a PDK-backed proposal for delaying parliamentary elections for six months. KRG President Masoud Barzani, who heads the PDK Party, may attend the meeting. His opponents in the PUK Party are pushing for a two-year delay. The PUK, which Barzani and his followers are blaming for the loss of Kirkuk (with its oil fields and production facilities) to Government of Iraq (GOI) forces, needs the long delay to reconstitute the party and, relatedly, to build a criminal case against Barzani for his bungling of the recent KRG bid for Kurdish statehood.
The PUK and all other registered parties for the Kurdish parliament have deliberately failed to nominate their own candidates for the parliamentary elections in order to keep attention focused on Barzani’s failures.
Barzani and the PDK had been the prime movers behind that bid, which culminated in the referendum of DATE. Russia supported statehood for the Kurds; the United States, Iraq, Turkey, and the nations of Western Europe opposed it.
When the referendum passed by a wide margin, the GOI, which had warned the Kurds against taking such action, decided that enough was enough and moved to nullify the results. A few days after the referendum, GOI military forces occupied Kirkuk as well as the Kirkuk oil fields and production facilities. Today, in fulfillment of an agreement the GOI reached with British Petroleum (BP), the latter took over the operation of the Kirkuk oil fields. As a result, all Iraqi oil fields and oil production facilities from Basra through Kirkuk are now effectively in Western hands. Previously Russia had been the chief importer of Kirkuk/KRG oil, thanks to a sweetheart deal Putin had struck with Barzani. That deal has now fallen by the boards.
Needless to say, these developments have raised severe doubts about Barzani’s competence as the leader of the Kurdish “nation.” But Barzani is a survivor, and has taken steps to ensure that, in the event that he is somehow incapacitated or otherwise rendered unable to fulfill his presidential duties, the office of the president would remain in KDP. To that end he has arranged for brother’s son, Nechirvan — who is also the prime minister of the KRG – to serve as acting president. Nechirvan would continue in this capacity until the election of a new president, preferably a member of the KDP.
Barzani will in no circumstances resign the presidency. Were he to do so, Yusuf Mohammed, the speaker of the parliament and the leader of the opposition Movement for Change (Gorran) party, would by law become president. Barzani will not permit this to happen so long as he is able to draw breath; he will do anything to ensure that a KDP leader controls the presidency.
It remains to be seen whether he will succeed. NEC-SE predicts that he will probably fail.