TEHRAN’S INTERVENTIONS IN SYRIA & SOUTH KURDISTAN (KRG) : Cabinet formation in agenda of Kurdish delegation to Iran

Lvinpress – January 14, 2014 – SULÊMANÎ :  Upon PUK’s request, Tehran leaders propose for the caretaker PM, Nechirvan Barzani, to form the new government cabinet based on the PUK-KDP Strategic Agreement. Barzani has been also told that Tehran has concerns about the opposition parties’ insistence on the governmental positions in the new cabinet.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK and Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP delegations are on a two-day visit to Iran to meet with Iranian officials on various issues. According to PUK’s official news sources, the PUK delegation consists of Kosrat Rasul, Barham Salih and Hero Ibrahim. KDP’s delegation is led by Nechirvan Barzani. It is said that Barham Salih first proposed the PUK and KDP’s visit to Iran.

Lvinpress received information revealing that the main aim of the visit is to discuss with Iranian officials various issues such as KRG cabinet formation, internal issues facing PUK, Kurdish-Shia relations and deteriorating situations in Iraq. After all, the formation of Kurdistan Regional Government KRG cabinet won’t be different from the structure that Iran is supposed to propose.

According to an Iraqi source talking exclusively to Lvinpress, Iranian officials have met both KDP and PUK delegations. Tehran has persuaded KDP to keep PUK’s balance in the new cabinet and pursue the principles of ‘Strategic Agreement’ between PUK and KDP. In return, Iran would initiate to bring Baghdad and Erbil together concerning the issue of exporting oil by KRG. Iran promises Barzani to persuade Iraqi PM al-Maliki to cooperate in the issue of oil contracts between Erbil and Ankara.

Lvinpress has also known that officials from Iran’s Foreign Ministry are soon to visit Baghdad to discuss this issue with Iraqi PM al-Maliki in a bid to bring about changes in the views of officials in Baghdad over oil contracts between Erbil and Ankara. Meanwhile, the Iranian officials asked PUK and KDP for supporting Shia fractions in the forthcoming elections and making coalition in formation of the new government cabinet, especially in the current obscure situations in Iraq and at a time when President Talabani is absent.

Regarding PUK and KDP delegations to Iran and the issue of cabinet formation, Latif Mustafa, head of the Change Movement fraction in the Iraqi Parliament, told Lvinpress: “the formation of new government cabinet in Tehran is questionable”.

“[it’s true that] Iran has influences on the Kurdish region, but an internal issue such as cabinet formation should not be made an external issue” said Mustafa.

Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish political figure and member of the Iraqi parliament, revealed to Lvinpress, “If PUK and KDP visited Iran for government formation, then in principle their visit would be a political mistake.”

“It is a shame that external interventions go that far”, he added.

Although President Massoud Barzani, as well as PUK and KDP, talks about a government of national unity, the delegations’ visit to Tehran did not include representatives of any other Kurdish political parties. PUK and KDP have not officially declared the content of their agenda in Tehran visit. However, an Iranian online network revealed that Iran has intervened in the cabinet formation and has concerns regarding the insistence of the opposition parties on power sharing in the new cabinet, and it has also asked KDP to act in accordance with the ‘Strategic Agreement’.

Sabir Hasan Birot is a freelance interpreter and PhD student at the Centre for Translation Studies, University of Leeds.