European Union concerned over political deadlock in Iraqi Kurdistan

BRUSSELS,— The European Union has expressed concern over the current political deadlock in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, and urged political parties to resume talks according to democratic principles.

EU member embassies in Iraq issued a statement on Sunday saying their governments have been monitoring political, social and economic developments in the region with concern.

The statement also called for dialogue and moderation and expressed concern over the ongoing dispute over the Kurdistan presidency.

“All political parties are urged to respect the democratic principles and values, to resort to dialogue according to democratic principles and other legal means and abide by non-violent acts in view of reaching compromises and honoring political agreements,” the statement read.

The crisis erupted after Massoud Barzani, whose term as Kurdistan President ended on August 20, 2015 but refused to step down, and continues to function as leader. According to the law in Kurdistan, Barzani cannot run for presidency anymore.

Anti-government demonstrations began in early October after the five main political parties failed to reach a final agreement on the presidency issue.

Thousands of people demonstrated in the last October against KRG and KDP in Sulaimani city and several other Kurdish towns, demanding payment of their salaries from KRG and that KDP leader Massoud Barzani to step down.

Massoud Barzani has been accused by critics of amassing huge wealth for his family instead of serving the population. Barzani’s son is the Kurdistan region’s intelligence chief and his nephew Nechirvan Barzani is the prime minister.

Violent demonstrations spread through towns in eastern Sulaimani governorate, leaving five dead and scores injured as a result of clashes between protesters and security forces.

Several Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) offices were torched, forcing the offices’ staff to flee. Both KDP and Gorran blame each other for escalating the situation.

The EU condemned the violence, particularly the attacks on political parties’ offices, media outlets and journalist.

“The KRG (Kurdistan Region Government) authorities are called to bring perpetrators to justice under a due process of law, while all actors – Regional Government, Provincial authorities and politicians – should strive for the preservation of citizens’ lives and public property and for resolving disputes and their repercussions,” the statement further said.

EU representatives and embassies in Iraq also called on the KRG to re-engage with Baghdad on oil and budget sharing.

“As part of such re-engagement the EU Delegation and the EU Member States’ Embassies encourage transparency and openness in releasing factual oil and non-oil revenue data in the Region,” they said.

Kurdistan region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani—also from the KDP and the Massoud Barzani’s nephew—removed four Gorran ministers on his Cabinet in retaliation for the protests on October 27. A convoy belonging to Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Mohammed Yousif, a Gorran member, was also blocked from entering Erbil, and the KDP has said it no longer recognizes Yousif as being speaker.

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