Tuesday, March 29, 2011
By Shwan Zulal
The current visit by Iraqi president and PUK leader, Jalal Talabni and former KRG prime minister and KDP deputy leader, Nechirvan Barzani has raised many questions about the reason for the visit and why KRG senior officials were not present. The visit would be a formality in ordinary circumstances as Iran is a large country in the region and a big player therefore, they have a say at what goes on in the region.
On the face of it, the visit looks legitimate and necessary to have good diplomatic relation with the neighbouring countries. And it's not a secret that Tehran have a significant leverage on the Islamic political parties in Kurdistan due to close ties. The Islamic parties have been supporting the current protests in Kurdistan, and it has been suggested that one of the agendas of the visit is to try to persuade Iran to rein in those parties.
It is not clear if Talabni is visiting Tehran in his official capacity as the Iraqi President but Nechirvan Barzani is certainly not a Kurdish government official. What is extraordinary about this sudden visit to meet with Iranian president, Ahmadinejad and other officials is that the visit is party political and seeks to include Iran in a political settlement among Kurdish parties. It is not a surprise that Iranian media have been reporting that Kurdistan Region vice president have visited Iran meaning Nechirvan Barzani. In reality he is KDP deputy leader and the post of vice president have been vacant since Masu'd Barzani was elected as president. Therefore one can say Nechirvan is the second man in charge in KRG and the rest of the government are dormant.
Both politicians visited Iran to discuss Kurdistan Region issues including the recent demonstrations and possibly the alleged oil smuggling, which has been denied by KRG. What is out of the ordinary above everything else is the sign of mistrust among the Kurdish politicians and the blatant inclusion of a political figure that does not hold any office in KRG. It may simply be the case that Nechirvan Barzani accompanied the president to make sure that KDP would be part of any deal struck with Iran. Or an indication that KDP does not trust Talabani talking to Iranian official given the history between the two parties. This is yet another blow for KRG institution and Kurdistan parliament by Barzani and Talabani family.
Meanwhile Hawlati newspaper reported that the Kurdish Islamic parties of Komal and Yakgrtu were both invited to take part in the talks in Iran but they declined to do so. The invitation may indicate an effort by Barzani and Talabni to try to strike a deal with the Islamic opposition parties in Kurdistan, which have strong ties with Iran and isolate the opposition, Goran movement.
The opposition announced today that they are boycotting today's parliamentary session and possibly future sessions too. They decided to take the action due to lack of action by the government dealing with the protesters demands. The oppositions' joint response in itself is a sign that if they are united in the interest of people and if there were any attempt by the meeting in Iran to isolate and weaken Goran, it has failed.
In another development today, KRG proposed the date for early local elections promised by KRG President and other measures dealing with reform. The proposals are an effort to show that the government is making headways in introducing reform. Nevertheless opposition boycotted the session and described the proposals as routine and too little too late.