Turkish FM urges Iraqi Kurdish political parties to reconcile

Turkish FM urges Iraqi Kurdish political parties to reconcile

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish FM urges Iraqi Kurdish political parties to reconcile

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Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu met with different political groups in northern Iraq and urged Iraqi Kurdish political actors for “unity and stability” in the political arena of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), underlining ongoing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), diplomatic sources have told the Hürriyet Daily News.

During his meetings in the KRG, Sinirlioğlu pledged Turkey’s support for “reconciliation” in northern Iraq.

Siniriloğlu had bilateral meetings with representatives of various groups in the KRG, amid a political crisis following the expiration of President Massoud Barzani’s mandate on Aug. 20. Barzani has served two-and-a-half terms but rival factions have yet to agree on the conditions to extend his tenure.

The Turkish foreign minister met with KRG President Barzani, who also heads Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Kubat Talabani from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), former Prime Minister and PUK Secretary General Bahram Salih, and Iraqi Parliament Speaker Selim el-Cuburi.

As the political division has deepened between the Barzani-led Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the opposition Goran (Change) and PUK, a growing economic crisis has also spilled onto the streets through violent protests.

The PUK, Goran, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and the Islamic Group, all attempted to leverage the expiration date to extract concessions from Barzani that would constrict his powers and increase the powers of the regional parliament.

The opposition parties sought to convert the KRG system from a presidential system to a parliamentary one. The latter would favor the opposition, which holds 58 seats out of 111 and a simple majority, whereas the KDP holds only 38 seats. 

Opposition parties proposed that Barzani could hold office for an additional two years until the parliamentary elections in 2017, in exchange for converting to a parliamentary system that would reduce the KRG presidency’s powers, distributing some of them between deputy regional presidents and the parliament. But these conditions were rejected by the KDP. 

Prime Minister Barzani has reshuffled his coalition cabinet amid an escalation of protests across the region over unpaid salaries, with Goran members physically barred from entering the capital Arbil.