Kurdistan sees inner turmoil after referendum

By | 2017-11-08T20:53:38+00:00 Wednesday - 8 November 2017 - 8:53 pm|Tags: , , , , , , , |
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Frictions between Kurdish forces in Iraq in the wake of the September independence referendum are causing further problems for the Kurdish Regional Government.

The Kurdish NRT channel was attacked by thieves on 28 October, costing the channel more than $1 million, in an act thought to be motivated by opponents of former KRG president Massoud Barzani (pictured).

Middle East Monitor reports that Chief Kawa Abdulqadir said the attacks were aimed at killing free opinion and that the channel did not “publish against Barzani but about the political situation”.

Barzani ruled the semi-autonomous region until he resigned last Sunday.

The political situation has become increasingly complicated following the 24 September referendum, after which Iraqi forces seized control of most of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.

The battle over Kirkuk between Barzani supporters and Iraqi forces resulted in a deepening of Kurdish rivalries after Barzani accused some Kurds of collaborating with the Popular Mobilisation Forces during their operations to retake Kirkuk.

Joost Hiltermann, MENA programme director at Crisis Group, was quoted by MEM as saying that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan was doing the same as Barzani did before in asking for help from Baghdad.

Creating an independent state was seen by some as an overly ambitious step from the Kurdish side, and that the referendum was a catalyst rather than a trigger for the current crisis in the KRG.

The KRG promoted an account of the region as a secular democracy with a thriving economy and a cohesive military force. However, the region, which has no water, was in fact economically unstable, weakly institutionalised and politically divided for a long time, putting Kurdistan in a weak position when dealing with Iraq.

Some have argued that the KRG could have retained a more powerful position as a semi-autonomous region, but these internal divisions are only worsening its position, restricting its negotiations with Baghdad to sustainability, as has been the case for decades.


Photo credit: Barzani in 1986, by Jan Sefti [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

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