Siamak Kakai – Iraq Affairs Expert

It is said that the share of Shiites in the government is between 50 and 60 percent, and that of the other two Sunni and Kurdish groups, is said to be about 20 percent each.

What draws attention with regard to the division of the Iraqi government’s ministerial posts is the share of the Kurds not in terms of the number of ministers, but this time the share the Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has gained in the new government.

It seems that the allocation of more ministerial posts to the Democratic Party is also an attempt to draw the party’s attention to a more serious and objective participation in the political structure of the new Iraqi government.

This is particularly so because the KDP had been annoyed in the process of electing a new president for Iraq. This occurred when the KDP nominee was unable to overcome the candidate of its longtime rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and the post was handed over to Barham Salih. This upset the KDP officials who reportedly left Baghdad furiously.

Unfulfilled Expectation

Although the longstanding friendship between Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Massoud Barzani, KDP leader, still continues, and they are both happy with the election of Adel Abdul Mahdi, but their expectation of the presidency was not fulfilled.

Although it was the first time that the KDP had nominated an independent candidate for presidency after the Baathist regime (of Saddam Hossein was toppled), and before that, the presidency was held by PUK nominee based on an agreement with the KDP, it seems that the change in the political fabric of Kurdistan region and the diminished role and power of the president of the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq held by the KDP for several terms has encouraged the KDP to seek Iraq’s presidential post.

However, the outcome of parliamentary decisions and the insistence of the Patriotic Union on the election of Barham Salih caused the KDP’s dissatisfaction and this may have led Adel Abdul Mahdi and his associates to increase the KDP’s share of the ministerial posts in order to create a balance.

Political changes in Kurdistan Region of Iraq 

In the meantime, the results of the Iraqi Kurdistan parliamentary elections also demonstrated the superiority of the Democratic Party. Out of the 111 seats, the KDP Region alone won 45 seats. Meantime, out of 11 seats went to religious and ethnic minorities. This means that the Democratic Party has won 45 seats out of 100 remaining. KDP’s old rival, the PUK has won 22 seats and the political current “change” or “Goran” won only 12 seats, and the rest of the seats went to Islamic parties and so on.

Given the political and policy changes in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq after the separation referendum, it seems that the KDP is about to revive itself in the structure of power of the Kurdistan Region and demands more concessions in Iraq. This can affect the decision-making process on how to participate in local government.

Also, the KDP share of the local future government is not comparable to rival parties. This may affect the interaction between Kurdish parties within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and with the central government.

That is, if the conditions of the KDP are tough, it may aggravate the scope of dissatisfaction of the PUK and other rival parties. Even some analysts do not rule out the possibility of going back to the idea of two state administration in the two Kurdish regions of Iraq, namely Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.

Therefore, the role of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in the power structure and the longstanding debates between Baghdad and Erbil over challenging issues such as oil, disputed areas, including Kirkuk, as well as the budget, depends on the degree of solidarity of the Kurdish parties among themselves and negotiations with Baghdad.

For the same reason, KDP’s disregard for the contribution level of the PUK and other Kurdish political movements in the local government and in communicating their call to Baghdad would reduce the impact of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Considering what was said, it appears that the general condition of Iraq is based on sympathy and national consensus, especially with the Kurds, in advancing the plans of the new government and state.