Iraqi Kurdistan region swears in new president

Nechirvan Barzani, was sworn on Monday in as president of Iraq's Kurdish region. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 11 June 2019
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Iraqi Kurdistan region swears in new president

  • Kurdish leaders told Arab News that the move would further cement the dominance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party
  • Barzani’s inauguration ceremony took place in the regional capital Irbil

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani was on Monday sworn in as president of the autonomous region.

The 52-year-old politician succeeds his uncle, the prominent Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.

Kurdish leaders told Arab News that the move would further cement the dominance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Barzani’s family in the region.

Iraq’s northern region of Kurdistan has enjoyed autonomy since 1992 following the first Gulf War when the UN Security Council imposed economic and military sanctions on Iraq, including a military ban on southern and northern regions where opponents of former president, Saddam Hussein, were based.

During a parliamentary session held last week in the presence of 81 members out of 111, most of them representing the KDP and its allies, 68 members voted for Barzani to fill the presidential post. It had been vacant since 2017 when his uncle quit after failing to obtain international and regional support for the declaration of Kurdistan as an independent state.

Barzani’s inauguration ceremony took place in the regional capital Irbil and was attended by hundreds of prominent figures including Arab and foreign ministers and representatives of diplomatic missions. Iraqi President Barham Salih and Iraq’s Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi were also present.

Barzani was born in Kurdistan in 1966. He is the grandson of Mullah Mustafa Barzani, one of the founders of the first Kurdish republic in Mahabad, Iran, in 1945 and the founder of the KDP.

The newly elected president has been one of the key leaders of the DKP since 1989 and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from an Iranian university. He is married with three sons.

All the positions allocated to the Kurds within the federal government in Baghdad and regional government in Kurdistan, have been shared by the two biggest Kurdish parties the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which was led by the late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

But disagreements between the two parties, which have shared all the gains made by the Kurds in Iraq since 1991, deepened after the death of Talabani in 2016.

“The KDP has the intention and the program to control all joints (positions) in the government of the Kurdistan region and to monopolize the representation of the region in Baghdad and international forums,” Arize Abdullah, a prominent leader of the PUK told Arab News.

Shiite and Sunni leaders in Baghdad believe that the flexibility and calm personality of Barzani may contribute to resolving the long-term tensions between Baghdad and Irbil.

In a speech during Barzani’s inauguration ceremony, Ammar Al-Hakim, a key Shiite political figure, said: “The relationship between Kurdistan and Iraq is bigger than governments and people…and the brother Nechirvan Barzani is keen on unity and solidarity of Iraqis.”


Israel to attend US Mideast peace conference: minister

Updated 24 min 24 sec ago
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Israel to attend US Mideast peace conference: minister

  • The June 25 and 26 gathering will see the unveiling of the economic aspects of the US initiative
  • The Palestinians have already rejected the plan and they are boycotting the Bahrain workshop

JERUSALEM: Israel will attend an upcoming conference on the economic aspects of Washington’s peace plan aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Foreign Minister Israel Katz has said.
“Israel will be represented at the Bahrain economic workshop in a way that will be decided later on,” Katz wrote on Twitter late Sunday.
“Israel has the ability to contribute to the development of the region with technology, innovation and other ways,” he added.
Asked by AFP to elaborate, a foreign ministry official did not say whether Israel would be represented by government officials or business leaders.
The June 25 and 26 gathering will see the unveiling of the economic aspects of the US initiative spearheaded by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The idea is to woo the Palestinians with the economic benefits if they accept the United State’s political proposals, which will be detailed at a later date yet to be announced.
Trump’s Middle East envoy hinted Sunday that it would not be before November.
The Palestinians have already rejected the plan, which they believe will be partial to Israel, and they are boycotting the Bahrain workshop.
The White House said last week that Egypt, Morocco and Jordan have agreed to attend, but none of the three countries have yet confirmed their participation.
The United Nations announced it would send its deputy Middle East coordinator to the event.
Relations soured between Washington and the Palestinians after the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017.
Trump is attempting to forge a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, a task at which all who have tried before him have failed.
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the plan may be considered unworkable, in comments to a private meeting of Jewish leaders leaked to US media.
“It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, ‘It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me’,” The Washington Post reported, citing an audio recording of the meeting it had obtained.