Why Kurds are United in Baghdad and Divided in Erbil

By Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The ongoing reform push by Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has brought about a sense of unity in the Kurdish ranks, unseen for the past couple of years.

When Abadi declared plans in February to reshuffle his Cabinet, an unintended consequence of his efforts was uniting major Kurdish factions in opposition to his stated goals. Kurds have stood against Abadi’s efforts to circumvent established political blocs and pick technocratic ministers for his Cabinet without having them being nominated by political groups.

“The Kurdish unity has stemmed from understanding the delicacy of the current situation in Iraq and Kurdistan,” Tariq Gardi, an Iraqi member of parliament from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) that has the largest Kurdish bloc in the Iraqi parliament, told Al-Monitor. “Kurds agree that the principle of political partnership should be reflected in Baghdad’s institutions, as we Kurds are not just a political faction but a key component of this country.”

The five Kurdish blocs in the parliament in Baghdad have 62 seats in the 328-member chamber. The KDP has 25 seats, and the rest is divided among four other parties that are the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Gorran, Kurdistan Islamic Union and Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal).

Although Abadi put forward 14 names at a parliament session March 31 as his choices for ministerial portfolios, the opposition from established Kurdish parties appears to have worked. They were against Abadi picking the ministers without consulting with them and objected to the reduced share Abadi has given to the Kurds. Now, Nizar Saleem Numan Doski, Abadi’s nominee to head the crucial Ministry of Oil, has said he will not accept the nomination if Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi parliament do not support him.

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