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The Sulaimaniyah Forum on 16-17 March vividly exposed the deep divisions within Iraqi Kurdistan. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani took a not-so subtle swipe at the opposition Goran party for failing to support his uncle President Barzani’s contentious decision to remain in power despite his (already extended) term expiring in August 2015. The PM said all efforts had been made to arrange elections ahead of the August deadline, blaming elements in parliament for unfair efforts “to bring down a president who was on the front line.”
Goran’s Yousif Mohammed, controversially dismissed as speaker of parliament in October, was even less subtle. He slammed the KRG’s leading figures, saying that the threat posed by the Islamic State did not justify President Barzani’s refusal to leave office. Kurdistan “should not abandon democracy because of terror. This is the kind of excuse used by dictators in the region” and went on to draw parallels with Saddam Hussein – a particularly emotive parallel on the 28th anniversary of his use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja.
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