A Unique Democracy in the Middle East
The Kurdistan Region is seemingly a unique democracy in the Middle East. With a successful and open foreign policy coupled with economic power, the Kurdistan Region has become an international commercial center in this new and virgin region. The Region can trace its establishment back to the autonomy agreement between the Kurds and the Iraqi government signed in March 1970 after years of fighting. However, the agreement was never implemented, and by 1974 Northern Iraq had been plunged into another round of bloody conflict between the Kurds and the Iraqi government.
The democratic process began as a result of people in the region demanding a better life and refusing to live under the rule of the Saddam Hussein regime any longer following the March 1991uprising.
Iraqi Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with a 111-seat regional assembly. The president, Massoud Barzani, was initially elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009.
Injustice, inequity, genocide, nationalism and disrespect for human rights on the part of successive dictatorial regimes led to the March1991 uprising which marked the refusal of Kurdish populations to live under such regimes any longer, and led to the establishment of a democratic regime in the Region.
The formation of the regional government is considered a historical step for the Kurds in general and for Iraqi Kurds in particular. Indeed, Kurds had only been able to form a government twice in their history prior to 1991: in 1922 under Sheikh Mahmoud (his government was subverted as a result of a British attack within a year), and in 1946 with Kadi Muhammad, whose government also failed to last out the year, having been subverted by the Iranian army’s attack on Mahabad, the capital of the short-lived Kurdish republic.
Then, in the 1980s, the Iran-Iraq war and the Anfal, the genocidal campaign waged by the Iraqi army against the Kurds, devastated the population and nature of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In the light of these earlier failures, the people of the KRG flooded into neighboring countries in late March and early April 1991, after Iraqi troops returned to Kurdish regions, and into safe zones in northern Iraq. After the Iraqi regime decided that all political, military and civilian state institutions and organizations should withdraw from Duhok, Erbil and Suleimaniya in October 1991, Kurds seized control and administrations emerged in the areas. These steps encouraged Kurdish political parties to fill the authority gap and establish a democratic political regime based on the votes of electors in the areas under their control.