Saturday, 29 August 2009, 01:32 GMT
Kurds divide but hope to unite in Baghdad

Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani takes the oath during the opening session of the new parliament in Irbil, a city in the Kurdish controlled north, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009. AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed

By Ako Muhammed
The Kurdish Globe

Kurdistan elections paint Kurdish participation in Iraqi Parliament

"If the Kurdistan parties don't go into the field with one voice, we will be defeated?"-Sadi Barzinji of the KDP

Kurdish ruling parties are keeping open the possibility of forming a large alliance including political powers in Kurdistan Region preparing to run for the Iraqi parliamentary elections scheduled for mid January. However, the second and third big powers in the Region are willing to run as separate lists. All assure preserving their unity on national issues in Baghdad.

The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has opened the door for Iraqi political parties to register until the end of August, after which the time comes to announce electoral alliances.

"Taking part together is a better choice; if they [Kurdistan parties] take part separately, we hope they will ally after the elections," said Sadi Barzinji, a current member of Iraqi Parliament representing the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

Kurdistan political parties as one bloc, Kurdistan Coalition, and the Kurdistan Islam Union (KIU) bloc together hold 57 seats of Parliament's 275 seats.

Working as one alliance "is very crucial because the situation is complicated there [in Baghdad] and we face a lot of challenges. If the Kurdistan parties don't go into the field with one voice, we will be defeated, quite frankly," Barzinji told the "Globe." He also revealed that the KDP assures they will unite attitudes and work on bringing Kurdistan powers together and "ignore internal differences."

The KDP, led by Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, share a strategic agreement are likely to keep in one list. In the meantime, the two parties that now run the local government in Kurdistan Region have not announced the way of their participation, only that they hope for a common list gathering all the powers.

Regardless, some Kurdish parties have shown a willingness to separately run in the elections.

A group known as the Four Parties-the KIU, Islamic Group in Kurdistan, Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party, and Kurdistan Tailors Party of Qadir Aziz--are now studying whether to compete individually or to keep their alliance the same as their participation for the July Kurdistan parliamentary election. The Four Parties under the name of the Service and Reform List placed third, winning 13 of Kurdistan Parliament's 111 seats.

Muhammad Hakeem, politburo member of the Islamic Group in Kurdistan, told the "Globe" that they haven't decided yet but that they will consult with their members and with allies in the Four Parties on how to prepare for the coming elections.

As for the choice to join the KDP and PUK, Hakeem said, "We have both experience of jointly and separately working with them. What's important is that we keep unity in positions with every Kurd in Baghdad concerning the strategic issues in the service of the higher interests of the people of Kurdistan." He thinks that the electoral competition will be strong due to multiple lists.

The Islamic Group does not intend to form any alliance with Iraqi entities outside the Region. "If any Kurdish group tries to form an alliance with Iraqi parties, we shouldn't immediately accuse them of treason. The time has passed for such a statement like that in Iraq now. We have to keep together with Iraqi parties for four years," remarked Hakeem, refereeing to media reports that revealed intensions of the Goran (Change) List--the second biggest bloc of Kurdistan Parliament--to ally with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Islamic Dawa Party.

Goran, with 25 seats in Kurdistan Parliament, has already declared their initial decision to run in the election alone--the same as they did for Kurdistan Parliament.

Osman Banimarani, a Goran leader reported that their group "has decided initially to run for the coming parliamentary election and for the provincial elections in Kurdistan Region as a separate list, but the door remains open for alliances with Kurdistan or Iraqi parties conditionally that the alliance falls in the interest of the Kurdish people."

"Plurality of Kurdish lists in Iraqi Parliament services Kurds' interests more than a unique list, because the bloc might be affected by external decrees," Banimarani told Aswat al-Iraq News Agency. He opposed the idea Kurds would be defeated if they didn't go along as one list.