Two Meetings, one crisis & no leaders

November 12, 2013

barzaniTwo very short meetings took place in Kurdistan: One was the PUK plenum and the other a gathering of the newly-elected Kurdish parliament. Both had many similarities, but a key difference.

The PUK meeting that lasted for under an hour was the result of a defeat in the election and the ongoing crisis in the party. The main aim of the meeting was to extend the legitimacy of the party until the next congress. In effect, the aim of the meeting was to postpone dealing with the problems until the congress.

The other key reason for the meeting being so short was the gap left by party leader Jalal Talabani’s absence: That has not only caused a political crisis, it has disoriented the party.

Meanwhile, the elected parliament held the other short meeting in which new MPs took their oaths, and everyone went home.

The faces of the participants looked like those of people with a problem and who don’t know what to do about resolving it. Adding insult to injury was the decision to ban the media from entering the parliament, despite the existence of a right-to-information legislation.

The reasons for the short wrap-up of the parliament meeting are clear, but things did not have to be like that. Although there is a looming political crisis between the political parties on forming the next government, the meeting was a good opportunity to begin nudging the process in the right direction.

Unlike the PUK plenum, this meeting could have had a leader to provide vision and direction for the next step, which is the formation of the new government. When the meeting was held, the only official with a title was President Massoud Barzani. He could have affirmed to the elected MPs that the phase one of the democratic process has ended and that the will of the people of Kurdistan is now in their hands to translate into a political reality.

By the look of things, when a prime minister is appointed he will not have an easy task forming the next government. There are many hurdles in the formation of the next government and the tensions among the various political parties are creating a lot of uncertainties among the people.

Very few steps to address these concerns have been taken. At times of crisis and uncertainty people turn to leaders for guidance, reassurance and leadership. As the president of all sides and the one who should stand equidistant from all, President Barzani has not played this role. The parliament meeting was an opportunity missed.

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