Shahu alqurra Daghi
New Iraq Centre Advisor
Translated by Shaimaa Shedeed
After six months of running parliament elections in Iraq’s Kurdistan region on September 30, 2018, the main region’s parties ( Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) could reach an agreement regarding the ninth Kurdish cabinet on May 5th . They could distribute the posts among partaking sides with participation of the Change Movement who accepted to have portfolio in the government and to leave the opposition front leadership.
According to the agreement ratified by political parties, the KDP has roles in the new cabinet as below:
Kurdistan region’s President, Kurdistan region’s Prime Minister, Kurdistan region’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Municipalities, Ministry of Education, Investment Institution and Institution of external relations of Kurdistan region.
While PUK has the below posts:
Region’s parliament head, Prime Minister Deputy, Region’s Vice President , Planning Ministry, Higher Education Ministry, Peshmerga Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, Culture Ministry and Security Apparatus.
At the meantime, Movement for Change has posts including Kurdistan region Vice President, Prime Minister Assistant, Finance Ministry, Construction Ministry and Social Affairs Ministry.
Till now, the region’s Islamic parties haven’t participated in the cabinet relevant negotiations. As for the Kurdish Islamic Union, it has decided to not take part in the cabinet form negotiations because of the last parliament elections’ results that witnessed big decrease in the party’s support. Meanwhile, the Islamic group is still waiting for the initiative of the democratic party and hasn’t yet announced its situation from participation. Anyway, if the cabinet retains its current format, it means a complete absence of all Islamic forces in the region.
On the other hand, there are number of challenges in the way of the ninth cabinet of Iraq’s Kurdistan. These challenges should be reviewed in order to improve the situations in the region.
Firstly: unification of Peshmerga forces
Since the formation of Kurdish cabinet in 1992, suggestions to unify the Peshmerga forces have been tackled. However, still the Peshmerga divided into forces related to the PUK and forces related to the DPK. To the present day, the forces take partisan instructions and orders.
When war against ISIS began in 2014, the Kurdish parliament issued pack of resolutions obliges the Kurdish Cabinet to unify Peshmerga forces. The same year, the region’s President issued a resolution to urge the unity of Peshmerga forces and to end all partisan forms inside it and so to consider forces don’t follow the Peshmerga Ministry are outlawed.
The division of these forces was the reason behind the civil war in 1994, as well, the incidents of October 17, 2017 and loss of Kirkuk and disputed areas were due to the absence of central leadership of the Peshmerga forces who had orders from partisan military leaderships rather than Peshmerga Ministry.
In fact, there are serious attempts initiated by the DPK to submit a draft resolution to unify all Peshmerga forces during the coming period and to end all partisan forms. The US and the international coalition strongly support this project and the coalition forces in cooperation with the Peshmerga Ministry kicked off a reforming project to reorganize the Peshmerga forces titled “Peshmerga the future” in February 2017.
Unity of Peshmerga forces guarantees the region’s stability and ends risks of civil war return. It also means immunity against current threats in the Middle East that stem an expected of armed clash or the return of terrorism. All these threats requires a united military force with central leadership.
Secondly, improving the economic situation, seriously facing corruption and handling the problem of salaries delay for the employees in order to help motion and life return to the region’s market. The region witnessed economic stagnation after 2014 when former prime minister Nouri almaliki decided to suspend the salaries of the region’s employees due to political disputes between the region and the centre on the oil in synchronization with the war against ISIS and the decrease of oil price.
All these above mentioned factors were about to result in an economic collapse for Kurdistan region but the agreement reached between governments of Baghdad and Kurdistan to send suspended salaries and the defeat of ISIS improved the situation to some extent. Actually, this doesn’t guarantee the absence of economic problems in the future as any dispute between the region and the government in Baghdad can get the economic problem back, especially because Kurdistan doesn’t have a diversified economy. That’s why the new cabinet should work more and focus on the economic factor in order to diversify the economy of the region and to make use of the current good relations with Baghdad to pave the way for economic reform.
It is clear that the corruption in the region is less than the corruption in Baghdad in general, which is proved by the level of services and development in the region. Nevertheless, the corruption rate is still high in comparison to the developed countries. This is because the corruption mechanisms aren’t effective as required due to the interference of the party in the government and the involvement of parties’ leaders in corruption issues and their attempts to have privileges away from regulations and laws.
Last not least, the new cabinet has to work on ending the division manifestations between the administrations of Sulaymaniyah and Erbil because the current situation in Iraq and Middle East requires a strong and united region especially amid the intensification of the US sanctions and pressures against Iran and its agents in the region including Iraq. It is important to note that if Iran feels any threats from the Kurdistan region, it will do its best to destabilise the region making use of the divisions and political disputes. A strong united region gets the mission of manipulating the region much harder and can imped any conspiracies.
The political, economic and social experiment of Kurdistan region is distinguished and unique in Iraq and the entire Middle East. Overcoming the aforementioned challenges by the new cabinet will strengthen the region and stabilize it’s stature more in Iraq and Middle East.