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Democracy Backsliding in Iraqi Kurdistan


After the Iraqi Kurdish opposition made unprecedented gains in recent elections there, Iraqi Kurdish officials — including Washington representative Qubad Talabani, for example — promised real reform and attention to the region’s corruption. “Each week, each month, the journey moves forward toward that destination of democracy,” Qubad told an audience at the Middle East Institute.

Qubad preaches a good game, but soon after he spoke, the Kurdish Regional Government began firing without due process career bureaucrats and security service officials suspected of voting for the opposition in elections.  Recent reports suggest that more than 1600 have been sacked, provided no pension, and in effect left destitute as punishment for wanting something more than a Syria or Egypt-style family-dominated regime.

The new Kurdish government has yet to begin functioning, and there are increasing reports that the opposition may boycott parliament until all sacked civil servants have their jobs restored.

It would be tragic if Iraqi Kurdistan — doing so well just a few years ago — lost bragging rights not only to being a relatively democratic region (already a stretch), but also to political stability.


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