The main political structures of Iraqi Kurdistan are no longer keeping good ties with one another for practical reasons according to Kurds.
Power-sharing administrations have mainly managed to keep tensions under control since the two fought a civil war in the 1990s. That’s despite the fact that the ruling Barzani and Talabani dynasties have long been at odds over control of resources and power in a region rich in oil and gas.
However, since a rare killing in Erbil, a northern city in Iraq, the simmering animosity has erupted into the open with a fury, and the impact is putting the shaky partnership through one of its toughest challenges since the kick-off of conflict.
The Kurds, who were among the biggest beneficiaries of Saddam Hussein‘s overthrow, have a lot on the line. They strengthened their independence, attracted international oil and gas investment, and gained some influence in Baghdad. Iraqi president, based on the power-sharing structures, is elected from the Kurdish figures.
However, despite its oil wealth, the area has significant unemployment and poor public services, which prompts many people to want to immigrate to Europe. The minimal control Iraqi Kurds have over their borders has been highlighted by attacks by neighbouring Turkey and Iran on local Kurdish fighters.
According to experts, the conflict is also eroding the Kurds clout within Iraq’s federal capital of Baghdad. That makes disagreements over who owns oil and gas assets and how much of the federal budget should be allotted more difficult.
“It affects social peace, it affects stability … and it affects the overall economic situation in terms of market and business confidence,” said Shivan Fazil said in a speech at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Kurds Power-Sharing Arrangements
The conflict, according to Fazil, is more about lost chances and how conflicts prevent the KRG from resolving governance problems and fulfilling the needs of its people, hence aggravating frustrations.
The precarious northern administration contributes to the impression of a nation still plagued by volatility twenty years after the American war in Iraq, especially in light of the present political chaos among Iraqi leaders.
Iraqi central administration is intently observing what is happening in Kurdistan. The PUK and KDP are being headed by hawks and their power battle is “at a very crucial point.”
Relations between the two parties had previously been tense, particularly in 2017. Then, the Kurds staged a referendum in which they received a resounding majority in favor of breaking away from Baghdad. The result was only thwarted when Iraqi forces captured large portions of Kurdish region.
Specifically for the fall of Kirkuk, which is home to one of Iraq’s oldest and largest oilfields, the PUK and KDP swapped accusations.
Who should be elected president of Iraq was the subject of a heated argument between the two camps this year. In October, Abdul Latif Rashid, who was supported by the KDP, won the federal position instead of Barham Salih, who was a candidate for the PUK.
According to an Iraq expert, the KDP no longer sees the need to uphold previous power-sharing arrangements.
These two sides are unable to cooperate. Due to the loss of their collective voice in Baghdad, they have less influence and voice. People who depend on the current system to get paid and whose salaries aren’t affected greatly by that.
According to analysts, KDP is trying to make a statement at a time when the PUK is being undermined by a leadership conflict, financial strains, and missed salary payments.