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Iraqi Kurdistan Faces A Hot Political Summer

Massoud Barzani faces competition in his unprecedented bid for a third term in the coming presidential elections in Iraqi Kurdistan, writes Abdel Hamid Zebari.
Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani speaks in a meeting with Kurdish envoys abroad in Arbil, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad September 6, 2011.   REUTERS/Azad Lashkari (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2QV60
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As the clock ticks down toward the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan, which enjoys near total independence from the central Iraqi government, the names of candidates for the post of provincial president have yet to be announced. Conjecture abounds, though, that competition will be fierce, especially now that the name of Nawshirwan Mustafa, the leader of the opposition Movement for Change, has been proposed to compete against the incumbent, Massoud Barzani.

The province is thus readying itself to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on Sept. 21 this year. Iraqi Kurdistan’s political arena is also witnessing an intense political tug of war; whereby the opposition (which includes the Movement for Change led by Mustafa, who in 2008 defected from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani; the Kurdistan Islamic Union and al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya — the Islamic Association) faces off against the two main parties that currently rule the province, namely the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by the province’s president, Massoud Barzani, and Talabani’s party.

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