KDP nominates Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani for Iraqi Kurdistan’s top posts

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani after casting his vote in Erbil during parliamentary elections in this Sept. 30 file photo. (Files/ Reuters)
Updated 04 December 2018
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KDP nominates Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani for Iraqi Kurdistan’s top posts

  • Masrour Barzani is currently Iraqi Kurdistan’s security chief

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said on Monday it had nominated current premier Nechirvan Barzani to succeed his uncle Masoud Barzani as president of Iraqi Kurdistan, and Masoud Barzani’s son Masrour as premier of the regional government.
With 45 of 111 seats, the KDP is the biggest party in the Kurdish assembly after September’s regional election but 11 shy of an outright majority, and will have to govern in coalition.
Masrour Barzani is currently Iraqi Kurdistan’s security chief. Both Masrour and Nechirvan have occupied senior roles within the KRG throughout the last decade.
Veteran Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, still the head of the KDP, stepped down after 12 years as regional president in November 2017, less than a month after helming a referendum on Kurdish independence that backfired
and triggered a crisis for Iraq’s Kurds.
The post has remained vacant ever since. The president’s powers were divided between the prime minister, Parliament and the judiciary in a makeshift arrangement, leaving the future of the presidency uncertain.
The semi-autonomous region does not have a formal constitution, having failed to ratify it in Parliament since it was drafted in 2009.
Any future power-sharing arrangement would require a rethinking of presidential powers, which would need to be ratified by Parliament.
“We still don’t know what the presidency will look like. Will it become a ceremonial post filled by Parliament?” said Kamal Chomani, a Kurdish political analyst and nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.
“In any case, Nechirvan will be weaker than Masrour but will stay powerful enough to control the foreign relations of the KRI. It all depends on how the presidential law will be amended,” he said.
Relations with the previous Iraqi administration of Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi were strained by the referendum.
But with a new Iraqi government in place, led by Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Irbil and Baghdad have in recent weeks signalled a willingness to work together.


Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

Updated 20 February 2019
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Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

  • Jordan PM says most refugees not returning yet
  • Amman says funding crucial to keep economy afloat

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon.
Razzaz told representatives of major Western donors, UN agencies and NGOs that relatively few refugees had gone back since Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s army last summer regained control of southern Syria, where most had fled from.
“The number of refugees that so far returned voluntarily is low and most have no intention of going back any time soon,” Razzaz told a meeting to launch a UN-funded government plan that earmarks $2.4 billion in funding needs for 2019.
Officials say only around 10,000 refugees out of a total estimated at 1.3 million had left since the two countries opened the vital Nassib-Jaber border crossing last October.
Razzaz echoed the UN view that unstable conditions inside Syria, where large-scale destruction, fear of retribution and military conscription has made many reluctant to return.
“We are now entering a new phase of the Syrian crisis, however the impact is still ongoing. The conditions for their return are not present,” Razzaz added.
The prime minister warned against donor fatigue in a protracted crisis where the needs of refugees and vulnerable Jordanians were largely unchanged.
Maintaining funding that covers education, health and crucial services for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and local communities was crucial to ease rising pressures on the debt-burdened economy, he added.
“Aid helped Jordan in staying resilient in a difficult regional setting,” Razzaz said, adding the refugee burden had strained meagre resources such as water and electricity, with a donor shortfall covered from state finances.
Jordan is struggling to rein in record public debt of $40 billion, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product, under a tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity plan.
Major donors say more than $6 billion had been extended to Jordan since 2015, which economists credit for rejuvenating once sleepy northern border towns, while refugee entrepreneurship brought a pool of cheap labor and new skills, triggering a property boom and higher productivity.
The kingdom received around $1.6 billion last year alone.
“The level of funding to Jordan that still remains is exceptional in global comparison,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Anders Pedersen, adding needs had evolved from the humanitarian aid required early in the conflict to development projects that benefit the economy.