KDP Flexes Muscles in Dohuk in Iraqi
By IWPR-trained reporters (ICR No. 297)
As in 2005 election, party still by far the
strongest force in the province.
Kurdistan region 'Iraq', —
Election rivalries have a history of turning violent
in Dohuk, Iraq’s northernmost province along its
border with Turkey.
In the previous election in 2005, four supporters of
the moderate Islamist party, the Kurdistan Islamic
Union, KIU, were killed and their offices were burnt
down. Several party activists were injured.
Supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP,
were blamed for the attacks, which took place after
the KIU withdrew from a coalition with the KDP.
However, KDP leaders were quick to condemn the
There is less tension this time and campaigning is
somewhat muted. Leaders of the KIU and KDP say they
share some common goals, even though they are
running in separate lists.
As last time, the governing KDP is by far the
strongest force in the province.
The party is one half of the Kurdistani list
coalition, which has held the largest rallies in the
region and bagged all the best advertising spots.
Cars carrying the list’s colours can be seen
cruising through the main streets.
Supporters of all the major parties have been
accused of removing or defacing posters for other
lists. Most of the posters left in place belong to
the Kurdistani list.
Dohuk province has a reputation as Kurdistan’s
backwater – a relatively tranquil mountain region
with a strong sense of community and civic pride.
In the provincial capital, residents are known to
pick up litter themselves in an effort to preserve
their town’s reputation as the cleanest in
Kurdistan. In the smaller towns, much of the
campaigning is taking place with door-to-door
The Kurds of Dohuk province speak the Badini
dialect, similar to the form of Kurdish spoken in
southern Turkey and distinct from Sorani, which
predominates in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.
The leaders of the region have worked hard for
recognition within the KDP. Their supporters believe
the party represents their interests best.
“The KDP is the apple of our eyes, we cannot live
without it,” said Barvan Azad, a Dohuk resident.
“The party’s leader, Mustafa Barzani dedicated his
life to the Kurdish nation,” he said,www.ekurd.net
referring to the hero of the Kurds’ rebellion
against Baghdad from the 1950s to the 1970s. His son
and nephew now lead the party.
Though some people also support the Islamists or the
Change list, there is little visible sign of that on
the streets of the province.
The Islamist KIU’s straight-talking leaders scorn
secular practices such as taking alcohol and
allowing the sexes to mix before marriage. Though
popular with conservative Muslims, observers say
their support may have been dented this time by the
decision to partner with two secular, leftist
“I had voted for the KIU previously but I will not
vote for it this time because it has joined some
unbelievers,” said Samia Shukri, a woman in Dohuk
town, the province’s capital.
She said she planned only to vote for Massoud
Barzani: the KDP leader and candidate in the
Kurdistan region’s presidential election, which
coincides with the July 25 parliamentary vote.
Trade with neighbouring Turkey is the major engine
of the economy in the border outpost of Zakho and in
nearby Dohuk town.
People in Zakho often complain they have lost out
despite their town’s felicitous position. They say
all the big contracts go to Turkish companies and
all the best jobs go to people from Dohuk.
They say most of the top local KDP officials are
from Dohuk, not Zakho. Campaigning is said to be
more energetic in Zakho, as the people there have
high hopes that their leaders will address their
“Zakho is being neglected by the government while
most places are being developed,” said a young man
there who asked not to be named. “Everyone is
excited about this election because all the lists
have promised development.”
Asked about his own voting choice,www.ekurd.net
man said, “I know we are all Kurds but I have to
look for the best option for my town... This is the
last chance for the Kurdistani list to prove they
are leaders of all Kurds – not just any one tribe or
Many residents say the province’s biggest problem is
its water supply – particularly erratic after last
year’s drought. Some areas of Dohuk town receive
only four hours of running water every day.
However, the electricity supply in the province is
more stable than elsewhere in Kurdistan. Most parts
of Dohuk used to receive 12 hours of power a day.
Last month, KRG prime minister Nechirvan Barzani
visited the region. Since then, the supply has gone
up to 16 hours a day.
Some remain disappointed with the rate of progress,
however. Sadullah Ali Abdulrahman said he would be
voting for the Change list, because it “can stand
against corruption and work for a Kurdistan where
human rights are respected”.
IWPR-trained reporter Niwar Mohammed Salim in
Dohuk contributed to this report.
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