For the first time in recent memory, the two major Kurdish parties (which are in a sense clans and clan allies) are facing significant opposition, as from the Goran or Change Party.
Critics of the joint government of Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party and (Iraqi President) Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which are in coalition with one another as the Kurdistan Alliance, charge that the Alliance is corrupt, authoritarian and inefficient. They say that Barzani has jailed journalists for ‘libel’ and encourages a cult of personality (his picture is everywhere). Those who are on the outside of the ruling clans are often disadvantaged and sometimes they have rioted, as even at Halabja, a shrine to the genocide against the Kurds launched by Saddam Hussein in 1988.
The likely winner, incumbent Massoud Barzani, seems on a collision course with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki over Barzani’s determination to incorporate into the Kurdistan confederacy the disputed oil province of Kirkuk, a plan to which Arabs and Turkmen, as well as Iraqi nationalists, object.
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