With cab­i­net for­ma­tion, Iraqi na­tional elec­tions and Kur­dis­tan provin­cial elec­tions, April set to prove a cru­cial month for Kur­dis­tan Re­gion

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

The for­ma­tion of a new govern­ment and the dis­tri­bu­tion of min­is­te­rial seats to please all par­ties amidst the break­ing of a long-es­tab­lished sta­tus quo and a power shift were never go­ing to be easy. The KDP were the clear vic­tors at the polls, but it was the es­ca­lat­ing po­lit­i­cal bat­tle be­tween Gor­ran and the PUK that proved to be an Achilles heel.

The PUK is al­ready suf­fer­ing in­ter­nal strain and a power strug­gle and has failed to ac­cept Gor­ran as a stronger power af­ter decades of PUK dom­i­na­tion of the Su­laimaniya prov­ince and a strate­gic shar­ing of power with the KDP.

Cru­cially, there is grow­ing mo­men­tum that the next cab­i­net will be an in­clu­sive govern­ment that will in­clude the five main po­lit­i­cal par­ties that won the most votes in the Kur­dis­tan leg­isla­tive elec­tions. That is at least one pos­i­tive prospect from the grow­ing frus­tra­tion over the po­lit­i­cal stale­mate.

It would have been easy to form a ma­jor­ity based govern­ment but the KDP in par­tic­u­lar en­cour­aged the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the PUK and Gor­ran in the new cab­i­net to strengthen the Kur­dish hand in the re­gion.

In re­cent weeks, there has been a grow­ing dan­ger that the PUK would boy­cott the govern­ment al­to­gether. In fact rhetoric be­tween the PUK and KDP slowly turned sour as par­ties blamed each other for the fail­ure to form the govern­ment. The rift high­lighted that the KDP was not will- ing to un­con­di­tion­ally propup its for­mer strate­gic ally. It would turn to Gor­ran if nec­es­sary to spear­head the next govern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to re­cent spec­u­la­tions, the KDP will re­ceive the in­te­rior min­istry, in ad­di­tion to the min­istries of nat­u­ral re­sources, ed­u­ca­tion, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and plan­ning. Gor­ran is to re­ceive the min­istries of Pesh­merga, fi­nance, trade and re­li­gious af­fairs.

The min­istry of Pesh­merga was cru­cial for Gor­ran as it tried to ex­ert in­flu­ence on se­cu­rity forces his­tor­i­cally dom­i­nated by the KDP and PUK.

Mean­while, the PUK is to as­sume the post of deputy prime min­is­ter af­ter Gor­ran re­lin­quished this post as well as the min­istries of cul­ture, higher ed­u­ca­tion, re­con­struc­tion and health.

The speaker of the par­lia­ment is to be given to Gor­ran with the deputy speaker from the KDP. The Is­lamic Union (Yek­girtu) and the Is­lamic League (Ko­mal) will also re­ceive some min­istries with mi­nor­ity groups also re­ceiv­ing some posts.

The Kur­dis­tan provin­cial elec­tions will be a cru­cial lit­mus test for the Kur­dish po­lit­i­cal land­scape. It may well un­der­line the demise of the PUK in the Su­laimaniya prov­ince. In the light of this, Kur­dis­tan govern­ment for­ma­tion could have log­i­cally con­cluded af­ter the provin­cial elec­tions when the lo­cal fac­tors were clearly on view.

Of course, such de­lay has been ag­gra­vated by the fact that the Iraqi elec­tions are tak­ing place si­mul­tane- ously. The cab­i­net for­ma­tion stand-off has been in the mid­dle of a fierce dis­pute be­tween Kur­dis­tan and Bagh­dad over oil ex­ports and the na­tional budget. It is vi­tal that the Kurds have a strong united hand in Bagh­dad and as such a cab­i­net for­ma­tion ahead of the Iraqi na­tional elec­tions is of sym­bolic im­por­tance as they fight for a strong voice to pro­tect Kur­dish in­ter­ests.

A weak Kur­dish po­si­tion in the post-elec­tion Iraqi cab­i­net for­ma­tion pe­riod will greatly di­lute Kur­dish goals of pro­tect­ing the re­gion against grow­ing cen­tral­ist poli­cies as well as the over­all de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion.

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