Barham Saleh and the future of Iraqi Kurdistan

Barham Saleh and the future of Iraqi Kurdistan

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Masoud Barzani and his project was broken down, and the departure of Jalal Talabani, and also «man of change» Nishroan Mustafa was departed. Thus, the “Kurdish arena” in Iraq seems empty today after the referendum and separation projects, at a time when the “throne conflict” between the Barzani family and Talabani family is intensifying and led by the “hawks of the two families” in a way that must negatively affect their positions. This “Kurdish scene” is met by Iraqi regional movements aimed at resetting the clock at various levels … It seems that so far all of them intersect with the person Barham Saleh.
Barham Salih was born in Sulaymaniyah 1960, he holds a BSc in Civil Engineering from Cardiff University and a PhD in Statistics and Computer Engineering Applications from the University of Liverpool. He worked as an engineering consultant in the UK, married with a boy and a girl. Saleh joined the ranks of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the late 1970s and became a member of Europe’s party organizations and then of the Union’s foreign relations office in London. In 1992, he was appointed director of the National Union Office in the United States and became a representative of the Kurdish region in Washington. He is one of the most prominent advocates of the Kurdish cause. He did not neglect the historical leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Jalal Talabani, but benefited from his footsteps and experiences. He remained at a distance that clearly preserved his position and did not dissolve in the control of the Kurdish nationalist sentiment, even though he is a Kurd and the son of a longtime Kurdish family and he remained mentioning Iraqis through his good Arabic language affected by southern dialect that he is Iraqi like any Iraqi from Basra or Najaf or Anbar or Diyala and he is the son of Baghdad, which he exchanged love with, as he is the son of Sulaymaniyah, and most importantly, that the positions he held in the Iraqi government, on the importance, did not Adopt a barrier between him and the people, both in the Kurdistan region, or in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces.
Saleh headed the Kurdistan Regional Government between 2001 – 2004, as many Kurdish citizens see that Kurdistan enjoyed prosperity during the period of its president. He served as minister of planning in the interim Iraqi government in 2005 and then deputy prime minister after the election of the first Iraqi government after the occupation of the country in 2003. Saleh was deputy prime minister of the interim Iraqi government and then took over as deputy of the former prime minister of Iraq Nori al-Malki after the latter took the post prime minister in 2006. He then headed the economic committee in the Iraqi government in 2006, and launched the initiative of the International Compact with Iraq to ensure international commitments with the countries of the world and help the country in the economic, security and political spheres. Saleh founded the American University in Sulaymaniyah, and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University and has cultural activities in addition to his political activities. And then headed the Kurdistan Regional Government again in 2009 after winning the legislative elections in the region, following his nomination by Kurdish leaders to head the Kurdistan List at the time, and continued to head the government until 2011. Elected as a second deputy for the secretary-general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan during a broad meeting of the party conducted in 2010.
Saleh launched several economic and investment programs in the fields of education, health, reconstruction and public services in the Kurdistan region, the most prominent of which is the fellowship program for students of the region in the world recognized universities. In 2014 he was nominated as president of Iraq with the current president Foad Maasoum According to politicians, Barham Salih has extensive domestic and international political relations and the ability to open up to various intellectual and religious currents. He is acceptable in the media circles inside and outside the country. Barham Saleh also has good relations with Tehran, Ankara, Washington, the United Kingdom, the Arab states and, most importantly, with the other political factions in Baghdad. Even his friends say that no one after Talabani among the Kurds has a vast network of Iraqi and global diplomatic relations as much as Barham Saleh.
While referendum fever is still at its highest, Barham Salih announced on October 2 through a video message a new list for the new legislative elections under the name of the Alliance for Democracy and Justice, a move that could move stagnant political waters in Kurdistan. This alliance and the departure of the veteran politician, Barham Saleh, from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the most powerful blow to the camp in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, especially the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan under the leadership of former Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, known for his rival party of the President of the region Massoud Barzani in Erbil. To save the Kurdistan region from the repercussions of the referendum on independence, whose consequences were underestimated and which the Kurdish leaders insisted on it last September, Barham Salih called on October 17 to form a “transitional government” in the Kurdistan region “able to overcome the problems resulting from Referendum and be legitimate and have the confidence of the Kurdish citizen and take responsibility for the administration of dialogue with Baghdad »on the disputed issues. He said: «The political vision on which the political process was founded in Iraq in 2003 is no longer able to push the country forward»
And his vision to resolve the current crisis and reform the relationship between the Kurdistan region and the Iraqi central government, he believes that requires different levels of it: First, the solution must be within the Kurdish, and to ensure the unity of the Kurdish row, and not accept the conversion errors that accompanied the recent decisions in Kurdistan to a disaster of Internal conflict and fighting between armed Kurdish factions. Second, the Kurds have to conduct an open dialogue with Baghdad. Any solution based on the Kurdish schism remains worrying and unproductive. The internal Kurdish unity based on reviewing the decision-making process, removing cronyism and corruption, and restoring the confidence of the Kurdish citizen to the government, is the first approach to any solution. This requires the formation of a transitional government capable of overcoming the problems resulting from the referendum, be legislative and restoring the confidence if the Kurdish citizen and undertake the responsibility of conducting dialogue with Baghdad. This requires the agreement of the basic forces, the removal of partisan sensitivities, the superiority of the logic of the national interest to the interests of parties and families, and requires not to be dragged to side-by-side debates and sterile debates … it is required to remedy mistakes and lack of perseverance about the consequences of the referendum. Courage is not the adventure of people’s lives and livelihoods, but requires self-revision and move towards the desired solution in Baghdad, based on the Constitution.
Based on the setback and the regional crisis resulting from the referendum of Kurdistan, On November 1, Massoud Barzani stepped down and indicated that he would not run for presidency again when the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) holds new elections, which may not happen before June 2018. He has made the move in part to remove obstacles to the resumption of negotiations with Baghdad, Turkey, Iran and Washington, some of whom have refused to hold talks as long as he remains president.”The decline of the fortunes of Barzani, America’s first ally, and ignoring the advice of Washington, impose the emergence of new Kurdish leaders. During this time extended between our day and the organization of the presidential and parliamentary elections, a balanced spectrum in the northern Iraq region has launched the search for an “alternative president” for Barzani, which would restore lost confidence between the Baghdad government and the region government, and may reorganize the papers of the Kurdish House. In the absence of any data that would satisfy the desires of the Barzani hawks to restore the scenarios of sharp confrontations between Erbil and Baghdad, the “search for an alternative” is consistent with the requirements of the current “Kurdish scene” and also intersects with regional landscape equations in the post of Kirkuk stage, Which is expected to be devoted in the coming period. At this level, the name of the veteran Kurdish politician Barham Salih is brought, not because he is leading an alternative project that may one day equate the projects of a number of parties with the Kurdish scene, but because the name of this dissident leader from PUK, and the head of Coalition for Democracy and Justice, is a “strongly proposed” option in Baghdad and in regional capitals.
Saleh prepares for an alternative project aimed at managing the region in the next phase, and he sees the light ahead of the upcoming regional elections. Observers of the Kurdish see that Barham Saleh is one of the most prominent candidates for the presidency of the Kurdistan region as an acceptable model in the administration of the region when he took the presidency of his government between 2009 and 2011 (and before that in another era, between 2001 and 2004), and has good relations with other political factions in Baghdad, Also has good relations with Tehran, Ankara and Washington.
After the choice of Massoud Barzani and his son Masrour has become something of the political past of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and after the announcement of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan to abolish his political office, and the departure of veteran politician such as Barham Saleh, the party has no effective and influential leaders, and may go from bad to worse. This requires a Kurdish leadership to manage the Kurdistan region towards prosperity and democracy, headed by Barham Saleh as its president and assisted by Najran Barzani as prime minister of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. This diversity of high political positions would create a regional balance in the much-needed Kurdistan region of Iraq.

In view of the depth of the gap that the Kurdistan region of Iraq has fallen in, it is in dire need of the President of the future region on the weight, “Barham Saleh,” working to remove the gap, such as “Konrad Adenauer,” adviser to the Federal Republic of Germany “1949/1963”, which worked to return Germany to the theater of international relations after the Second World War. This also applies to the character of Yoshida Shigeru, who was Japan’s prime minister in the post-World War II era, who worked to reshape Japan’s foreign policy, which raised the slogan “to be friends of all”. Saleh, with his political vision mature and open to all and his belief in democratic values and economic liberalism is a guarantee in promoting the opportunities for economic development in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and the rotation of governance, and establish balanced relations with Iraq according to the Iraqi constitution and positive relations with neighboring countries and major countries, he is a preface for the future of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies