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71 Year Old Kurdish President Massud Barzani Steps Down Finally From Office

 

“Changing the law on the administration of Kurdistan or drawing out the presidential term isn’t satisfactory,” said the modeler of the September 25 autonomy vote, which prompted the Kurds losing to Baghdad’s powers debated an area and oilfields to which they had laid case.

“I request that parliament meet to fill the opening in control, to satisfy the mission and to accept the forces of the administration of Kurdistan”, said the letter.

Barzani said he would “remain a peshmerga” (Kurdish warrior) and “keep on defending the accomplishments of the general population of Kurdistan”.

Barzani’s letter was sent to parliament to decide on the provisional redistribution of the presidency’s powers until a presidential election, for which a date has yet to be fixed.

 

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The opposition Goran party which had sought Barzani’s resignation and a “government of national salvation” opposes the redistribution of the presidency’s powers.  That plan was proposed by the major Kurdish parties, Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and its rival Kurdish Patriotic Union (PUK).

Barzani “symbolises the failure of Kurdish politics, and the only thing left for him to do is to issue a public apology,” Goran MP Rabun Maarouf said before the session began.

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KDP deputy Ari Harin spoke of an “international plot”.  Barzani had come under growing opposition from his detractors after he organised the referendum on Kurdish independence that triggered a deep crisis with Baghdad.

The federal government deemed the vote unconstitutional, and its forces have since seized a swathe of disputed territory in the north from Kurdish fighters.  Territory reclaimed from the Kurds in the sweeping operation included key oilfields in and around the disputed province of Kirkuk.

On Sunday, a government source in Baghdad told AFP that a deal had been reached under which Baghdad’s forces would deploy at the disputed Fishkhabur border post with Turkey after clashes in the area on Thursday.

The loss of the oilfields, which provided income that would have been critical to an independent Kurdish state, sparked recriminations among the Kurds.

Political life in Kurdistan is dominated by the KDP and PUK of Iraq’s late president Jalal Talabani.  Iraq’s current president, Fuad Masum, is also a PUK member and had backed a push for dialogue between the Kurds and Baghdad before the referendum.

 

Iraq’s neighbours Turkey and Iran, which have their own Kurdish minorities, also strongly opposed the non-binding vote, and Ankara on Thursday said the Iraqi Kurdish offer for the referendum to be frozen was “not enough”, instead urging the Arbil government to cancel it.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in a phone call Saturday that “everything possible should be done to avoid fighting between Iraqis”, the presidency in Paris said.

Barzani’s move comes with Abadi’s forces engaged in battles in the west with holdout jihadists of the Islamic State group, assaulting what the premier called “the last den of terrorism in Iraq”, Al-Qaim on the border with Syria.

The mandate of Barzani, the first and only elected president of the autonomous Kurdish region, expired in 2013.  It was extended for two years and then continued in the chaos that followed the sweeping ISIS offensive across Iraq in 2014

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