Gorran Threatens to Withdraw from Political Process
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- Disappointed with the current state of Kurdistan Region politics, the largest opposition group – the Change Movement (Gorran) -- is contemplating withdrawing from the political process, sources within the group say.
Gorran was born out of the Kurdish parliamentary elections in 2009 where it gained 24 of 111 seats in Kurdish Parliament. It ran on a platform of change and fundamental reform for the Kurdistan Region.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has not delivered on any of the promises it made,” said Mohammed Tofiq Rahim, Gorran’s head of foreign relations.
Rahim asserted that the current Kurdish government is “partisan” and as such is not suited to run Kurdistan “at the current stage.”
“There needs to be change everywhere. Change is needed in the Kurdistan Region as much as it is needed in Syria,” he said.
The statements by Gorran officials about withdrawing from parliament come at a time when unity among the three opposition groups seems to be at a low point.
Over the past few years, Gorran, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal), have been united on a number of key issues. But recent attempts to unseat Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appear to have driven a wedge between them as Gorran, unlike the other two, did not support efforts to remove him.
Samir Salim, a member of the KIU political bureau, says there is an “undemocratic process” in Kurdistan, adding that this will strengthen “harmony” among opposition groups.
Asked if his KIU has any plans to withdraw from the political process as well, Salim said, “The issue has not been discussed in the KIU and has not even been thought about.”
He added that, due to the rapid pace of change in the broader region, Kurds need to be prepared at this stage to seize any opportunity to advance “the Kurdish cause.”
“If not for the current circumstances in Iraq, the issue of corruption and undemocratic direction in Kurdistan’s system of government would require us to take a more serious stance. But the interests of Kurds demand that we act in a different way,” said Salim, whose group is the second largest opposition in Kurdistan, with six seats in parliament.
Salim added that the government and opposition groups need to strike an agreement as to how to deal with the current situation in Kurdistan and the region.
“Under such sensitive conditions, it is a mistake to exploit domestic problems by magnifying them. Similarly, it is a mistake to downplay internal problems because of external threats,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tofiq Karim from Komal said his party has no plans to pull out of the political process in Kurdistan.
“Pulling out of the political process in Kurdistan is a critical issue and cannot be decided upon easily,” said Karim.
Relations between the opposition and ruling parties -- the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) -- have been tense over the past two years.
In February 2011, protests broke out in Sulaimani demanding change to the status quo. Following two months of popular protests, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani declared a series of reforms but opposition groups were not satisfied with the results.
Karim expressed concern that the reform plans had been ignored. He added that tensions with Baghdad and instability in the broader region should not be used as an “excuse” for not implementing reform plans.
He added that senior government officials appear to be more active by frequently visiting different areas in Kurdistan and calling for trust between the authorities and citizens to be established.
But Rahim from Gorran slams the government and says his group will work to inform people “not to forgive the government. This government does not have the ability to do anything.”
For his part, Omar Nuraddini, an MP from the coalition of ruling parties, argues that the KRG has “been committed to presenting public services to citizens,” adding that the government has 4,000 projects to implement this year.
Nuraddini expects the opposition to focus solely on weaknesses, saying “they have never spoken well of the government.”