Politics of Iraqi Kurdistan

Politics Of Iraqi Kurdistan

Kurdistan (Kurdish: هه‌رێمی کوردستان‎‎ Herêmî Kurdistan; Arabic: إقليم كردستان العراقIqlīm Kurdistān Al-‘Irāq), also known as the Kurdistan Region or Southern Kurdistan, is an autonomous region of northeastern Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr. (The word Hewlêr is a metathesis of the non-Semitic name Arbel.) The region is officially governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The establishment of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq dates back to the March 1970 autonomy agreement between the Kurdish opposition and the Iraqi government after years of heavy fighting. The agreement however failed to be implemented and by 1974 Northern Iraq plunged into another round of bloody conflict between the Kurds and the Arab-dominated government of Iraq. Further, the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s and the Anfal genocide campaign of the Iraqi army devastated the population and nature of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Following the 1991 uprising of the Iraqi people against Saddam Hussein, many Kurds were forced to flee the country to become refugees in bordering regions of Iran and Turkey. A northern no-fly zone was established following the First Gulf War in 1991 to facilitate the return of Kurdish refugees. As Kurds continued to fight government troops, Iraqi forces finally left Kurdistan in October 1991, leaving the region to function de facto autonomy; however, neither of the two major Kurdish parties had at any time declared independence and Iraqi Kurdistan continues to function as an integral part of a united Iraq, but one in which it administers its own affairs. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent political changes led to the ratification of a new Constitution of Iraq in 2005. The new Iraqi constitution defines Iraqi Kurdistan as a federal entity of Iraq, and establishes Arabic and Kurdish as Iraq's joint official languages.

Iraqi Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with a regional assembly that consists of 111 seats. The current president is Massoud Barzani, who was initially elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. The three governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah comprise around 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi) and have a population of 5.5 million.

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