The inheritance of power in Kurdistan…From
ancestors to offspring
By Kamal Chomani -
The Kurdistan Tribune
From right: Massoud Barzani, Kurdistan region
president, Nechirvan Barzani - KRG Prime Minister,
Masrour Barzani - chief of Parastn (Protection
Agency of Kurdistan). Illustration photo: Ekurd.net
Photo: Ekurd.net Archive
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June 13, 2012
In this society, if you are not born into a
family of Kurdish leaders, you will not have any
chance at all to get into high positions in
political and government fields, no matter how
skillful and knowledgeable you are.
In Southern Kurdistan, Kurdish democracy has not
forgotten about tribal customs. Although we have
different political parties with different
ideologies, they are closely connected with the
dogmatism and rules of the tribal system which has a
historical background in our society. If you go deep
into Kurdish history, power was transferred from
ancestors to offspring. This should not be
considered as something absurd, it was like that in
the whole region (and it still exists in some Arab
countries). The absurdity is that it still continues
in other ways.
The Kurdish leaders can be differentiated from any
other leaders of the modern world in many ways, but
two particular characteristics should be raised
here. First, they stay leaders until they die.
Second, their sons and offspring are new leaders by
Basically, one of the main reasons for Kurdistan’s
undeveloped international relations and its weak
lobbies in the US and EU is that the people who have
become Kurdish representatives in these countries
are the least skillful, apart from the fact that
their work is done for their political parties and
not the nation. All Kurdish representatives around
the world – either in the KRG’s representative
such as in the US and UK, or working as ambassadors
in Iraqi embassies – are there due to their party
loyalty and their kinship with the leaders.
Dr Sardar Aziz, is one of the modern elite Kurdish
political thinkers. All Kurdish readers, especially
the new generation, know him. Readers cannot wait
for his next column in the weekly Awene. Years back,
he wrote an impressive article in Awene newspaper in
which he mentioned that he had asked PUK to assign
him to work in the US to develop the Kurdish lobby –
which is still in the weakest form – there. In
brief, as he explained, the PUK was happy with his
suggestions but, due to his being independent and
not a PUK member, he was not valued enough to be
asked to work there.
I only raise one crucial question: if Dr Sardar Aziz
had worked there since then, how successful a lobby
would we have by now? Or what would have happened if
he had become the Kurdish representative in the US?
By all means, no one from the KRG’s representatives
in the EU or US can be compared to Dr Sardar Aziz.
His skills and knowledge are far ahead of theirs.
They should be grateful if Dr Sardar considers them
as his students. Unfortunately, people like Dr
Sardar, who are abundant nowadays, can never get any
positions in KRG institutions, especially in
external KRG offices and Iraqi embassies. The reason
is simply that they don’t belong to the families of
the two ruling party leaders.
I will list just a few of the sons and offspring of
the leaders in each party who have got high
positions without having the relevant
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is led by
Massoud Barzani who has got this power as an
inheritance from his father, the Kurdish leader
Mullah Mustafa Barzani
Nechirvan Barzani, KRG Prime Minister
Masrour Barzani, chief of Parastn (Protection Agency
Mansour Barzani, Gullan Chief of the Military Unit.
Shekh Adham Barzani, KDP leadership council.
Sidad Barzani, KDP leadership council
Sirwan Barzani, KDP leadership council*.
Delshad Barzani, KDP’s representative in Germany.
Saiwan Barzani: Iraq’s ambassador in France.
Hoshyar Zebari: Iraqi Foreign Minister, Massoud
Babakar Zebari : The Iraqi’s Chief General,
Dindar Zebari, Hoshyar Zebari’s Cousin and the
deputy of KRG’s office for Foreign Relations.
Bayan Sami Abdulrahman, the KRG’s representative in
Chnar Sa’d Abdulla, first she became Member of
Parliament, then Minister, and now part of the KDP
leadership and chief of the public organisations of
*In fact, seven members of the Barzani family are on
the KDP leadership council.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is led by
Jalal Talabani the president of Iraq who also became
more popular due to being son-in-law of Ibrahim
Ahmed, the second man in Aylul revolution after
Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, Talabani’s wife, PUK politburo,
chief of 1st PUK branch in Slemani. (No need to list
her other positions).
Qubad Jalal Talabani, KRG’s representative in US.
Lahur Talabani, chief of Anti-terror forces.
Bayiz Talabani, Finance Minister.
Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, Hero’s sister, PUK’s
representative in the UK.
Bakr Fatah, Omer Fatah’s brother, Iraq’s ambassador
Rebaz Kosrat Rasul, PUK’s leadership, chief of PUK’s
Mohammed Sabir, Jalal Talabani’s brother in law, is
Iraqi Ambasador to China.
Dr Kamal Jamal, Jalal Talabani’s brother in law, is
the Iraqi irrigation minister.
I must say that these people are just a very few
within the two ruling parties in Kurdistan who have
got power because of their family connections to the
leaders. I could list dozens of others, but I think
these are sufficient for those who want understand
The people of Kurdistan are fed up of such policies.
In the opposition parties, you hardly come across
such things, although there are a few cases. The
recent congress of the Islamic Union of Kurdistan
showed us that they are much more democratic than
the KDP and PUK. The Islamic Union was able to
change its leader for the first time ever at a
Kurdish political party congress. Interestingly, the
new leader has no kinship with the former leader,
Salahadin Bahaadin. The Gorran Movement will have a
crucial experience at its expected congress,
demonstrating whether they will be a copy of the PUK
or do something new.
The sons and offspring of Kurdish leaders have
occupied almost all important government
institutions and external offices along with
monopolizing the economy in the region. Why talk
about democracy when just two families decide on
every policy? This is nothing but a new kind of
tribe system in a modern form. Nation building
cannot be like this.
This phenomenon has made thousands of Kurdish youths
frustrated. No matter how brilliant and smart they
are, they must have strong affiliations with the KDP
or PUK to get any positions; whereas others, without
the relevant skills or knowledge, can be what they
want to be!
Kamal Chomani is a Kurdish journalist based in
Iraqi Kurdistan. He writes for Awene, south
Kurdistan's major independent newspaper, sits on the
editorial board of Lvin magazine, a leading
trimonthly, and works with Reporters Without
Borders. You can reach the author via emails:
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