Masoud Barzani is a Kurdish politician, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region from 2005 to 2017. However, Barzani’s post sparked controversy, as his mandate expired 19 August 2015, he is leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party since 1979. Masoud Barzani succeeded his father, the Kurdish nationalist leader Mustafa Barzani, as the leader of the KDP in 1979. Working with his brother Idris Barzani until Idris's death and various other Kurdish groups fought the forces of the Iraqi government in Baghdad during the Iran–Iraq War. For much of this time, the Kurdish leadership was exiled to Iran. Barzani was born during the short-lived Republic of Mahabad. A major result of Saddam Hussein's defeat in the Gulf War and Operation Provide Comfort was the ultimate establishment of Kurdish control over their traditional homeland in northern Iraq, known as Iraqi Kurdistan and "South Kurdistan". Just a few months after the creation of the autonomous zone, free elections were held in 1992; the two main Kurdish parties, namely Barzani's KDP and the Jalal Talabani-led Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, split the vote, subsequently split the government ministries evenly.
In May 1994, fighting broke out between the Peshmerga of the PUK and of KDP. On August 31, 1996 Barzani called on the assistance of Saddam Hussein's regime to help him combat the PUK, receiving Iranian assistance. With the aid of the Iraqi army, the KDP drove the PUK from Iraqi Kurdistan's major cities; the PUK regrouped and retook Suleimani and parts of Hawler province. An end to the civil war was brokered in 1998 in the Washington Peace Accords, leaving the Kurdish zone divided between the KDP in the Northwest and PUK in the Southeast. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the KDP and PUK have established a unified regional government. Barzani became a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and was the president of the council in April 2004, he was elected as the President of Iraqi Kurdistan by the Parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan in June 2005. In his presidency Barzani has established several institutions in the Kurdistan Region to develop its emerging democracy, strengthen alliances and improve the decision-making process.
In January 2007 he established the Kurdistan Presidency Council, which includes the Deputy President, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region. In February 2011, Barzani received the Atlantic Award from the Italian Atlantic Committee and the Italian Delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly, for his role in promoting peace and religious tolerance in the region. During the same visit Pope Benedict XVI received Barzani and paid tribute to the President for his role in providing refuge and assistance to the fleeing Christians; the Atlantic Award is annually conferred to prominent international figures for their role in promoting peace and religious tolerance in their regions. As President of the Kurdistan Region, Barzani has made official visits to several countries including: meeting with US President George W. Bush at the White House, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street, The Pope at the Vatican, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi in Rome, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman.
In July 2009, in the first direct elections for the presidency of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani was reelected as president by a popular ballot, receiving 69.6% of the votes. The elections were monitored by international observers and the Iraqi Electoral Commission. In August 2013, after the expiration of his 8-year term, the parliament extended his presidency for another two years, he has continued in the role beyond this extension. Masoud Barzani was one of the eight candidates shortlisted in the Time magazine's 2014 Person of the Year, for his efforts to push for Kurdish independence with the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. On 7 June 2017, Barzani had announced that the northern territory of Iraq would hold an independence referendum on 25 September 2017. On the day following the referendum, 26 September 2017, he announced that the referendum had been a success in seeking independence, called on neighboring countries to be open to future dialogue.
The Iraqi government rejected the results of the referendum. On 15 October, units of the Iraqi security forces and Popular Mobilization Forces entered the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, forcing a withdrawal of the Peshmerga and prompting similar withdrawals across other contested cities of northern Iraq. Following the failure of the referendum and the Peshmerga's territorial losses, Barzani announced on 29 October that he would step down as the President of Iraqi Kurdistan. Members of the Barzani family control a large number of commercial enterprises in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a gross value of several billion dollars, although no evidence of such ownership by Masoud Barzani himself exists. While accusations of corruption against both the KDP-Barzanis and the PUK-Talabanis are levied by both Kurdish sources and international observers like Michael Rubin, President Barzani on several occasions has denied involvement in any commercial enterprises. Insufficient financial transparency in the region serves to both exacerbate the accusations and hamper efforts to find any evidence of malfeasance.
In July 2010 the opposition paper Rozhnama accused the Barzani-led KDP of pocketing large sums from illegal oil-smuggling
Iraqi governorate elections, 2009
Governorate or provincial elections were held in Iraq on 31 January 2009, to replace the local councils in fourteen of the eighteen governorates of Iraq that were elected in the Iraqi governorate elections of 2005. 14,431 candidates - including 3,912 women - contested 440 seats. The candidates came from over 400 parties - 75 % of. In February 2008, the Iraqi Parliament passed a Provincial Powers Act by a majority of one, with many members of parliament not present at the proceedings, it included giving the Prime Minister the power to dismiss a governor of a province, a measure that would have left considerable power in the hands of the Shi'a dominated central government in Baghdad. The Act required a Provincial Elections Law to be passed within the next 90 days and for elections to be held no than the beginning of October 2008; the Presidency Council referred the law back, saying it did not comply with the constitutional rights of governorates. It was reported that vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, whose Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council party is strong in many southern Iraqi governorate councils objected.
However, the Council reversed its position following protests from the Sadrist Movement, saying they would instead seek changes to the law before it came into force. In July 2008 the Iraqi Election Commission proposed postponing the elections until December because delays in passing the election law had left too little time to prepare; the Provincial Elections bill was approved by the Council of Representatives on 22 July 2008 despite a walkout by members of the Kurdistani Alliance over a clause making Kirkuk Governorate council a power-sharing arrangement. The next day the Presidency Council of Iraq, consisting of President Jalal Talabani, Kurdish, Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shi'ite Arab, Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni Arab, unanimously agreed to reject the bill because of the Kirkuk clause, send it back to the Council of Representatives to reconsider; the second draft was ratified by the Presidency Council on 7 October 2008, who stated that a minority clause may be added later.
A minority clause was added on 3 November. The original draft proposed delaying the election in Kirkuk Governorate until after the referendum to decide its precise status has been held. However, a group of Turkmen and Arab MPs proposed a power-sharing clause, establishing a provincial council consisting of ten Kurds, ten Arabs, ten Turkmens and two Assyrians; this clause was included in the draft election bill put to the Iraqi Council of Representatives in July 2008, led to the Kurdish parties walking out in protest, complaining "If you pick the seats before the election, why vote?" The law was nonetheless approved on 22 July 2008. However, President Jalal Talabani, Kurdish, Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shi'ite Arab, have agreed they would reject the bill, hence it would be sent back to the Council of Representatives to reconsider. Parliamentary summer recess started on 30 July 2008, but a special session was called for 3 August 2008 to find a solution to the Kirkuk issue. At that meeting, no solution was reached.
It was postponed to 9 September 2008, with a committee working on a compromise solution until then. At that session, no resolution was reached, negotiations continued on 10 September 2008 in the form of a special six-member panel formed for this occasion; the law was passed on 24 September 2008 and the election is expected to be held by 31 January 2009. A special panel was to work on a solution on Kirkuk and report back by 31 March 2009; the United Nations Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura proposed holding elections in all governorates except Kirkuk, deferring the Kirkuk elections for six months in order to find an acceptable compromise. A draft bill based on this proposal was debated on 6 August and accepted by the Kurdistani Alliance but opposed by the Iraqi Turkmen Front, Iraqi Accord Front and Sadrist Movement who objected to the draft law's reference to the Kirkuk status referendum and insisted on delaying the entire elections until a solution was found. Under Article 50 of the draft Elections law, religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis would be reserved a number of seats in the provincial assemblies.
This clause was removed in the final draft, with legislators citing a lack of census data for determining the appropriate number of seats. Five thousand Christians demonstrated in Mosul against this change, saying it was a "marginalisation of their rights" and the head of the Assyrian Church of the East wrote to the Presidency Council asking them to veto the law. Prime Minister al-Maliki said he was concerned and called on parliament and the Iraqi High Electoral Commission to "remove all the concerns and the sense of exclusion felt by some segments of Iraqi society". Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman called on the Presidency Council of Iraq to use its review process to force an amendment to include a minority quota, saying "The rule of the majority means there should be protection of the minorities" A Sadrist leader said Christians should be allowed to "contribute to the building of the Iraqi state" and the removal of this clause "threatened the unity of Iraq" The UN Special Envoy criticised the removal of the minorities clause.
A minority clause was added on 3 November 2008, although it only provided for six special seats instead of twelve as recommended by the UN. The Christian
Council of Representatives of Iraq
The Council of Representatives is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of Iraq. It is composed of 329 seats and meets in Baghdad inside the Green Zone. An elected Iraqi parliament first formed following the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1925; the 1925 constitution called for a bicameral parliament whose lower house, the Chamber of Deputies or Council of Representatives would be elected based on universal manhood suffrage. The upper house, the Senate was appointed by the king. Sixteen elections took place between 1925 and the coup of 1958. On January 17, 1953 elections for the Chamber of Deputies took place. Following controversy over the implementation of the so-called Baghdad Pact, Prime Minister Nuri Pasha as-Said called for elections the following year, in early 1954. As-Said dissolved the assembly shortly thereafter and began to rule by decree, but opposition forced him to hold a third election within three years; the second 1954 election was corrupt, with as-Said's political enemies banned from running, widespread voter coercion.
The assembly was suspended yet again, in 1958 a military coup deposed as-Said and the monarchy, abolished the parliament. The 1970 constitution created a republic with an elected National Assembly. However, elections for the Assembly did not take place until June 1980, under Iraq's new military president, Saddam Hussein. Several more elections took place between 1989 and 2003; the new Assembly was a figurehead that would rubber stamp the president's decrees. Elections for its members were not considered fair by the international community. Only members of Hussein's own Baath Party were elected. In 2003, Saddam Hussein was forcibly removed from power by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and their allies during the Iraq War. In March 2004 a governing council set up by the Coalition Provisional Authority signed an interim constitution which called for the election of a transitional National Assembly no than the end of January 2005; this Assembly would draft a permanent constitution which would be submitted to approval by the Iraqi people in a general referendum.
Elections for this transitional National Assembly took place on January 30, 2005. The United Iraqi Alliance Party won the majority of seats with 48% of the popular vote resulting in 140 seats. Eighty-five members of the assembly were women. Talks between the UIA and other parties to form a coalition government began soon after the election; the assembly had its first meeting on March 16, 2005. After weeks of negotiations between the dominant political parties, on April 4, 2005, Sunni Arab Hajim al-Hassani was chosen as speaker; the Assembly elected Jalal Talabani to head the Presidency Council on April 6, approved the selection of Ibrahim al-Jaafari and his cabinet on April 28. Under the permanent constitution approved on October 15, 2005, legislative authority is vested in two bodies, the Council of Representatives and the Council of Union; the Council of Representatives consists of 325 members elected for four years, with two sessions in each annual term. The Council passes federal laws, oversees the executive, ratifies treaties, approves nominations of specified officials.
It elects the president of the republic, who selects a prime minister from the majority coalition in the Council. Elections for the Council of Representatives were held on December 15, 2005; the Council first met on March 16, 2006 one year after the first meeting of the transitional assembly. The Council of Representatives of Iraq has the same name in Arabic as the lower legislative houses of Bahrain, Morocco and Yemen, as the unicameral legislatures of Lebanon and Tunisia. However, a number of different English terms are used to refer to these bodies; the Council of Union, or Federation Council, will consist of representatives from Iraq's regions and governorates. Its precise composition and responsibilities are not defined in the constitution and will be determined by the Council of Representatives. On, April 12, 2007, Mohammed Awad, a political party member of the Iraqi National Dialogue Council, was killed at the convention centre canteen of the parliament building, 22 were wounded, in the 2007 Iraqi Parliament Bombing.
A group of Sunni lawmakers boycotted parliament in a June 2007 protest of the removal of the speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, after a series of controversial actions. They returned in July after the speaker was re-instated with the understanding that he would resign after a few sessions. A group of Shiite members returned in July after a boycott which gained them an investigation into the bombing of a Shiite mosque, along with reconstruction and improved security; the parliament was under pressure from the United States to pass legislation dealing with members of the Baath party, distribution of oil revenues, regional autonomy, constitutional reform, by September 2007. The Iraqi cabinet approved a draft elections law in September 2009. However, it took ten delays for the law to pass in the Council of Representatives; the main areas of dispute concerned the "open list" electoral system and the voters roll in Kirkuk Governorate, which Arab and Turkmen parties alleged had been manipulated by the Kurdistan Regional Government of
Maamoon Sami Rasheed al-Alwani
Maamoon Sami Rasheed al-Alwani is a former governor of Iraq's Al Anbar province. He was appointed by the Anbar Provincial Council in May 2005, following the murder of the previous governor, Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi, he is a member of part of the Dulaim tribe. His name was found along with the names of other prominent Iraqi Sunni leaders, targeted for assassination in a captured al-Qaida in Iraq document. Insurgents kidnapped Alwani's son on September 6, 2005, but he was safely returned. In March 2007, two of Alwani's nieces were killed in improvised explosive device attacks. In late October 2007, Alwani was part of a delegation of Anbari government and tribal officials that travelled to the United States to drum up support for reconstruction efforts in the province upon an official invitation from the US Department of State; the following month, Alwani expressed to reporters that his primary concern was that a sectarian-divided Iraq would inspire meddling from Iran and other neighboring countries.
He invited private investors from the US to help develop Anbar's oil and natural reserves in the southern Akaz region. Alwani has survived at least 31 assassination attempts since assuming office in May 2005. On August 18, 2005, insurgents opened fire on the governor and a group of prominent Sunni Muslim clerics as they were meeting in Ramadi. Witnesses said Alwani was holding talks with members of the Muslim Clerics Association in Ramadi's Al Dawla al-Kabeer mosque when the gunmen opened fire; the governor and the head of the Muslim Clerics Association in Ramadi, Thamir al-Dulaimi, escaped injury, but Dhahir al-Obeidi, head of the Sunni Endowment organisation, was wounded along with his deputy. In early May 2006, Alwani escaped with minor wounds; the bomb exploded. On December 25, 2007, several mortar rounds hit the governor's office at the Government Center in downtown Ramadi. Al Anbar Governorate Iraqi Islamic Party Provincial Government
The Badr Organization known as the Badr Brigades or Badr Corps, is an Iraqi political party headed by Hadi Al-Amiri. The Badr Brigade was the Iran-officered military wing of the Iran-based Shia Islamic party, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, formed in 1982. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq most of Badr's fighters have entered the new Iraqi army and police force. Politically, Badr Brigade and SCIRI were considered to be one party since 2003, but have now unofficially separated with the Badr Organization now an official Iraqi political party. Badr Brigade forces, their Iranian commanders, have come to prominence in 2014 fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq, it is a part of the Popular Mobilization Forces. The organization was formed in Iran in 1982 as the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, it was led by Iranian officers. It consisted of several thousand Iraqi exiles and defectors who fought alongside Iranian troops in the Iran–Iraq War.
The group was directed by Iran. They returned to Iraq in 1991 during the 1991 Iraqi uprising to fight against Saddam Hussein, focusing on the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, they retreated back into Iran. In 1995, during the Kurdish Civil War, Iran deployed 5,000 Badr fighters to Iraqi Kurdistan. Returning to Iraq following the 2003 coalition invasion, the group changed its name from brigade to organization in response to the attempted voluntary disarming of Iraqi militias by the Coalition Provisional Authority, it is however believed the organization is still active as a militia within the security forces and it has been accused of running a secret prison and sectarian killings during the Iraqi Civil War. Because of their opposition to Saddam Hussein, the Badr Brigade was seen as a U. S. asset in the fight against Baathist partisans. After the fall of Baghdad, Badr forces joined the newly reconstituted army and Interior Ministry in significant numbers; the Interior Ministry was controlled by SCIRI and many Badr members became part of the Interior Ministry run Wolf Brigade.
The Iraqi Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, was a former leader of Badr Brigade militia. In 2006 the United Nations human rights chief in Iraq, John Pace, said that hundreds of Iraqis were being tortured to death or executed by the Interior Ministry under SCIRI's control. According to a 2006 report by the Independent newspaper:'Mr Pace said the Ministry of the Interior was "acting as a rogue element within the government", it is controlled by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Another is the Mehdi Army of the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, part of the Shia coalition seeking to form a government after winning the mid-December election. Many of the 110,000 policemen and police commandos under the ministry's control are suspected of being former members of the Badr Brigade. Not only counter-insurgency units such as the Wolf Brigade, the Scorpions and the Tigers, but the commandos and the highway patrol police have been accused of acting as death squads; the paramilitary commandos, dressed in garish camouflage uniforms and driving around in pick-up trucks, are dreaded in Sunni neighbourhoods.
People whom they have arrested have been found dead several days with their bodies bearing obvious marks of torture.' Following ISIL's successful Anbar campaign and June 2014 offensive, the Badr Organization mobilized and won a series of battles against ISIL, including the Liberation of Jurf Al Sakhar and lift the Lifting of the Siege of Amirli. In early February 2015 the group, operating from its base at Camp Ashraf, fought in Diyala Governorate against ISIL. Over 100 militia were killed in the fighting including 25 in Al Mansouryah. Badr's leader, Hadi Al-Amiri, said his militiamen were committed to the safety of Sunnis, but deep mutual suspicions remained in the light of recent sectarian killings and suspicion that some Sunni tribes were allied with IS; the Badr Corps consists of infantry, artillery, anti-aircraft, commando units with an estimated strength of between 10,000 and 50,000 men. Private militias in Iraq List of armed groups in the Iraqi Civil War List of armed groups in the Syrian Civil War Holy Shrine Defender Michele Norris & Ivan Watson, "Profile: Opposition Group Claiming to Represent Iraqi Shias Enters Northern Iraq," All Things Considered, NPR.
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