October 28, 2018 / 11:37 AM
Barham Salih will improve KRG-Baghdad ties, professor tells Kurdpress

<p style="text-align:left">A professor at the University of King in Canada told Kurdpress that Iraqi Kurdish President Barham Salih wil try to boost ties between Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, adding that officials and political parties in Kurdistan Region have come to the conclusion that the independence of the region is not possible at the current situation and so the case has been neglected and the independence referendum of the region, held in September 2017, flamed disputes among the political parties in the Kurdish semi-autonomous region.</p>

<p style="text-align:left">Zhigar Hassan stated that the formation of the new government in the Kurdish region has not been decided as the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) plans to put aside the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) from the new government or at least decrease and restrict the power of the party in the new government but “I believe that PUK will still run important ministers in the new government.”</p> <p style="text-align:left">Hassan confirmed to Kurdpress that the ties between Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of the region, has seen better days after the referendum, adding that there would be better days in ties between the two government as Erbil is quite eager to normalize its ties with Baghdad.</p> <p style="text-align:left">What follows is his full answers to Kurdpress questions;</p> <p style="text-align:left"><strong>The result of Kurdistan parliament election was announced; how the formation of the new government would be? Would it include PUK and KDP members mainly or, as some KDP leaders stated after Barham Salih election as Iraq president, the new KRG government would be a majority government?</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left"> It's still not clear what the next KRG cabinet will look like. It would appear that the KDP is committed to keeping the PUK out or at least reducing the power and influence of the PUK in the next KRG parliament. But I would say that the PUK will still retain some important ministries. For example, I would be surprised if Qubad Talabani did not receive a high-profile position.</p> <p style="text-align:left"><strong>The relation between KRG and Baghdad is now better than before. Can we expect the normalization of ties between the two sides?</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left">Yes, I believe that the KRG and Baghdad are on the road to reconciliation and relations should be normalized sooner rather than later. The KRG has every incentive to normalize relations as quickly as possible.</p> <p style="text-align:left"><strong>KDP had a problem with Barham Salih and the mechanism of his election as Iraqi President? Will KDP neglect PUK in forming new government in the region?</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left">Following the appointment of Barham Salih as Iraq's president, the KDP suggested that it was misled by the PUK. The KDP believed that its candidate, Fuad Hussein ought to have been elected.</p> <p style="text-align:left"> </p> <p style="text-align:left"><strong>Why the opposition could not do well in 30<sup>th</sup> September election? Was there due to frauds in the polls or there was another reason behind?</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left">Although there were accusations of fraud in the September 30 election, we will have to wait until the commission releases its findings for more information. I would suggest that there was likely some fraud and cheating, but on the whole I think the results reflect the voters' feelings about political parties in the Kurdish region. Voter turnout was very low because voters are disenchanted with all the parties, but the KDP is very effective at mobilizing and getting its supporters out to vote.</p> <p style="text-align:left">Is September 2017 referendum for the region’s independence from Iraq the cause of the current disputes between the Kurdish parties in the region?</p> <p style="text-align:left">I think the fallout from the 2017 referendum is one of the factors for the differences between Kurdish political parties. But it's just one of several factors.</p> <p style="text-align:left">Kurds say the new government of Iraq should normalize the situation in Kirkuk and other disputed territories, is that possible?</p> <p style="text-align:left">The situation in Kirkuk was very complicated prior to October 2017 and following the events of October 16, 2017, the situation is even more complicated. I think it will be very difficult for Baghdad and the Kurds to resolve the Kirkuk issue in the short-term. A solution is possible, but it will require time and effort from both sides.</p> <p style="text-align:left"><strong>It seems that nobody speaks about Kurdistan Independence these days, why? Is it possible in some years ahead?</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left">I think Kurdish independence has been shelved. Political parties in the Kurdish region have recognized that the independence issue is a pipe-dream and under the current regional and international environments, independence is unlikely.</p> <p style="text-align:left">How do you assess electing Barham Salih as the President of Iraq? While this caused big differences between KDP and PUK, how he will act?</p> <p style="text-align:left">The appointment of Barham Salih was a surprise to many, especially given that he split from the PUK, formed his own political party, and harshly criticized the PUK. I think Salih will move the PUK closer to Baghdad and work to undermine the KDP in the Kurdish region. At the same time, he will work to improve relations between Baghdad and the Kurdish region.</p> <p style="text-align:left">Reporter’s code:40101</p>