August 8, 2019 / 12:11 AM
Kurdistan Region welcomes Turkey operation against PKK: expert

A political expert believes the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cannot resist Turkey presence in the Kurdish Region and the presence of Turkey, in the region, is necessary to balance the presence of the forces of the PKK and therefore the government in Erbil welcomes Turkey operation in the region.

Zhegar Hassan stressed in an interview with Kurdpress that there are rifts in the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) as there are three rival sides and the rift has to be ended soon.

What follows is his answers to Kurdpress questions;

The previous complex for Kurdistan presidency now belongs to Masoud Barzani, former President of Kurdistan Region and this place is called Bargay Barzani which means a special status is given to Barzani beyond its current position as KDP leader. Do you think this is parallel to Kurdistan presidency?  Can this limit Nechirvan Barzani's affairs as the new President of Kurdistan Region?

The resignation of Masoud Barzani was a monumental change in the politics of the Kurdistan region.  The opposition political parties and critics believed that Masoud Barzani would rule as president for the rest of his life. So it is significant that he resigned and stepped aside in favour of his nephew Nechirvan Barzani. We know that Nechirvan is a very capable administrator and his governing style is different from Masoud’s. Nechirvan will try to pursue his own agenda, and he will use different tools than Masoud. At the same time, we should not overstate Masoud’s resignation. As the leader of the KDP, Masoud will continue to exercise influence over the KRG and the Kurdistan region. His long reach will remain influential for a long time. The question will be to what degree Nechirvan will push back against Masoud. Will Nechirvan be meek or will he resist and challenge Masoud?  We cannot yet answer this question.

How do you access Erbil- Baghdad relation as the Kurdistan region is being led by Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani?

Since the fallout from the 2017 referendum, relations have gradually improved between Erbil and Baghdad because Erbil has recognized that it cannot unilaterally take action against the interest of Iraq. Nechirvan Barzani presidency will certainly change the tone of the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad, and whether or not this leads to improved relations, we will have to wait and see.

The disputed areas and oil and gas are two big problems between Erbil- Baghdad, do you see any progress in coming years?

I don’t foresee much progress regarding these two issues.  These are longstanding disputes between Erbil and Baghdad, and their resolution requires political capital that neither Erbil nor Baghdad possesses. Neither side can compromise on these two issues for fear of losing their bargaining position.

It is said that there is an internal rift in KDP but Masoud Barzani does not let it become public, how do you see this?

There are certainly fissures within the KDP, and as much as Masoud Barzani and other have tried to conceal this, it’s well-know that the KDP is divided. There are at least two camps (perhaps even three) – one led by Masrour Barzani and the other led by Nechirvan Barzani (and the third led by Fazil Mirani) –within the KDP. To date, the party effectively managed these divisions, but sooner or later the party will have to resolve this internal competition.

Disputed between KDP and PUK prevented establishing a new government in Kurdistan region, can they reach an agreement?

Yes, I believe the KDP and PUK will soon reach an agreement to form a government in the Kurdistan region. Especially now that the KRG prime ministership has been decided, it will be easier for Masrour and Nechirvan Barzani and the KDP to negotiate the formation of a government with the PUK.

Turkey has a huge presence in the Kurdistan region due to its operation against PKK, but KRG, PDK, and other Parties are silent, why?

As you may know, the KRG and the KDP has developed a friendly relationship with the Turkish government, and so the KRG acquiesces to Turkey’s presence in the Kurdistan region. A second reason is that the presence of Turkey in the Kurdistan region acts as a counterbalance to the presence of the PKK. Without Turkish operations in the Kurdistan region, the PKK would have a larger and more influential presence. Finally, even if the KRG hoped to expel Turkey from the Kurdistan region, it could not. Turkey is politically influential and militarily powerful, and as a consequence it will conduct operations in the Kurdistan region with or without the KRG’s approval. Therefore from the KRG’s perspective, it makes more sense to cooperate and work with Turkey on this matter.

KRG says that it tries to rebuild Peshmerga forces and make it a professional force so that it no longer be a force loyal to political parties like KDP and PUK, is it possible? 

Of course this is possible, but I believe it is unlikely. It would be difficult for either the KDP or the PUK to willingly disband their armies in favour of a national military. The risk is too great and there is too much to lose politically and economically.

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