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 Tension in Iraqi Kurdistan over Egypt 

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Tension in Iraqi Kurdistan over Egypt  16.2.2011  
By Tracey Shelton, Press TV, Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan

February 16, 2011

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Egyptian protests that ended a 30-year autocratic rule by Hosni Mubarak have sparked calls for political change in Iraqi Kurdistan and inspired renewed tension between the dominant parties in the semi-autonomous region.

Iraqi Kurdistan's major opposition party Gorran, meaning change in Kurdish, has called for the immediate dissolution of the Kurdish Regional Government. At the height of the Egyptian protests, Gorran released a statement saying, “the day of demise of dictatorial and despotic regimes has come to an end”.

A war of words has ensued with the two dominant ruling parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Massoud Barzani, accusing Goran of attempting to destabilize the region.                 
Video: English - Tracey Shelton.
Jondyani said they congratulate the people of Egypt for the peaceful result of their protests, but the situation in Kurdistan Region of Iraq cannot be compared to the one-party rule under Mubarak that did not respect the will of the people. Although acknowledging the need for political reform within the KRG, he said the PUK are bringing reform step by step.

Gorran party spokesman Mohammed Tawfiq disagreed saying serious reform needs to take place immediately and the results in Egypt only add to the pressure.

After government tanks surrounded the Gorran party headquarters Tawfiq said the strong reaction came as no surprise. Having a strong opposition party is a new situation for the ruling parties and one they find “hard to digest”, he said.

The PUK say if Gorran apologize for their actions they will be happy to meet for discussions. But as the calls for revolution continue on Gorran's television network,
www.ekurd.netJondyani says the PUK along with other parties will continue to monitor the situation and react when the time comes.

Gorran enjoys wide support in Kurdistan region. Gorran emerged in regional elections in 2009 as a rival to the two main ruling Kurdish parties and won 25 seats in the parliament. Gorran is challenging Talabani's PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan), and the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), of regional president Massoud Barzani and accuses the parties of corruption. It’s headed by the former senior PUK-leader Nawshirwan Mustafa, who was Talabani’s deputy until 2007. Since the July 2009 elections in which it secured almost a third of the seats of 111-member Parliament of Kurdistan.

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