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A Presidency Crisis Foretold in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

The motives behind the political stalemate of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq are explained
People calling for a solution to the Kudistan Regional Government’s presidential crisis burn tires as they clash with the security forces during a protest in Suleymaniyah, Iraq, 10 October 2015. Photo Feriq Ferec / Anadolu Agency

The presidency crisis in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in November 2015 is hardly a surprise. President Massoud Barzani’s term should have ended in 2013. The two main parties at the time developed a stratagem, considered illegal by many, that extended his term by two years. There was no reason to assume the president would step down in 2015.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is often considered a beacon of democracy in a part of the world that is in turmoil. They have fair elections, rights for the many religious and ethnic minorities, and a functioning parliament. But take a deeper look at the way the election of the president has been handled, and a different picture emerges.

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