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Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Massoud Barzani — Destined to Lead Kurdistan

Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Northern Iraq
Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Northern Iraq. Photo Corbis

Massoud Barzani’s term as president of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, since 2005, ended in August 2015. For the second time. His term officially ended in 2013 but was extended for two years by means of a parliamentary trick. But presidential elections seemed legally impossible in 2015, arguably leading to another two-year extension of Barzani’s term. This leaves many people wondering whether Barzani and his party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), have changed their priorities, from leading Kurdistan to keeping the position of leader for himself.

Massoud Barzani was destined to lead Kurdistan, coming as he did from the influential Barzani clan, which rose to power in the early 19th century. Kurdish society has for centuries been led by clans in a feudal system, and, as the son of the legendary Kurdish leader Mulla Mustafa Barzani, the ground was well prepared for Massoud himself to lead one day.

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