Iraq’s Kurdish region to vote amid ongoing tension
ARBIL - Agence France-Presse
Nearly three million Iraqi Kurds are eligible to vote on Sept 21. AA photoIraq’s Kurdish region goes to the polls tomorrow, grappling with a swathe of disputes with the central government.
The Sept. 21 vote is the first to be held in the Kurdish Region, a three-province autonomous region in north Iraq, in more than four years.
It will see three main parties jostle for position in the Kurdish Parliament, with long-term implications both domestically and farther afield. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional President Massoud Barzani is widely expected to garner the largest number of seats.
But the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is in government with the KDP, faces a challenge from the Goran faction in its own backyard as it struggles with leadership questions as its long-time chief Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president recovers in Germany from a stroke. In all, nearly three million Iraqi Kurds are eligible to vote in Sept. 21 election for the 111-seat legislature, which drafts its own laws.
Kurdistan also operates its own security forces and visa regime and has control over a wide array of other responsibilities. Internationally, the focus is likely to be on the region’s increasingly strident moves in recent years towards full-fledged independence from Iraq’s central government.
Oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan has sought to establish a pipeline that would give it access to international markets, it has sent crude across the border to neighboring Turkey, and signed deals with foreign energy firms, including giants such as Exxon Mobil and Total.
It has also capitalized on its reputation for greater safety and stability, as well as a faster-growing economy than the rest of Iraq, to solicit investment independent of the federal government.