Is Iraqi Kurdistan a Democracy or a Monarchy?

By Zanko Ahmad.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Two families in Iraqi Kurdistan seem to reserve all the top political jobs for relatives. Recently the ‘crown princes’ both got new, high level jobs. The question: is this a democracy or a monarchy?

A month ago, the President of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan appointed his son to head a newly formed Security Council for the region.

The new Iraqi Kurdish Security Council takes responsibility for internal security and for the local military and intelligence services in the region, which has its own government, legislature and economy, independent of the rest of Iraq. And because all of the various security apparatuses in Iraqi Kurdistan are represented on this new body, decisions regarding military matters in the area can be made swiftly – which makes the job of heading it an important one.

So when President Massoud al-Barzani appointed his son, Masrour, to head the Council, local observers quickly pointed out that this seemed to be yet another indication of al-Barzani’s intention to continue to dominate politics in the area, by continuing to appoint family members in high places.

Almost all of the senior posts in the region are already held by members of two Iraqi Kurdish families: the al-Barzanis and the Talabanis. In practical and political terms, power in the state is held by two main parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which are headed by, respectively, Massoud al-Barzani and Jalal Talabani.

And although, according to local electoral legislation, al-Barzani senior’s term as president is supposed to end in 2012, the political landscape in Iraqi Kurdistan doesn’t seem to have thrown up anyone who can challenge him – outside of his nephew Najirvan Barzani, currently the KDP’s deputy head and Iraqi Kurdistan’s Prime Minister, who many say is being groomed to inherit his uncle’s job.

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