Over the past three months the conflict between the political parties of Iraqi Kurdistan has morphed from a political crisis to a legal and constitutional one, to a question of the ability of the region to function as a government.

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had until this summer functioned under a system, that was formally one of constitutional democracy, with elected officials exercising powers prescribed in law. When the term-limited presidency of Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), ended in 2013, the deadlock was resolved through democratic means. Barzani’s term was fixed by KRG statute, not Iraq’s constitution, and the other traditionally dominant party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), agreed to extend it for two years. In exchange, the KDP agreed to a redrafting of the KRG’s constitution, which had been approved by the KRG parliament before Goran, the primary opposition party, was in office. The draft constitution created a powerful executive office, something the KDP favored and other Kurdish parties all increasingly opposed. Mr Barzani’s term was extended through 19 August 2015. (CONTINUED - 905 WORDS)