Since this is a subject which requires quite a a lot of background information, and as a result the text is very long, I will publish it in three parts.
The first two parts are background information. Part I is available here:
The third part, probably tomorrow, will be my analysis.
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- The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
As noted in Part I, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was created by Article 53 of the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period (TAL) which was in force from June, 2004 to May, 2006.
Article 53.In July, 1987 several of the notoriously divided Iraqi Kurdish parties and groups, with encouragement from Iran, announced that, in an effort to unify, the Iraqi Kurdistan Front (IKF) would be established.
(A) The Kurdistan Regional Government is recognized as the official government of the territories that were administered by the that government on 19 March 2003 in the governorates of Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk, Diyala and Neneveh. The term “Kurdistan Regional Government” shall refer to the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Kurdistan Council of Ministers, and the regional judicial authority in the Kurdistan region.
The IKF was formally established in May, 1988 and included the two main Iraqi Kurdiah parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and several other smaller, mostly leftist, Kurdish and Assyrian parties.
The Islamic Iraqi Kurdish parties and Iraqi Turkmen parties did not participate.
Following the 1991 Gulf War and its related events which created a safe haven in parts of northern Iraq, the IKF decided to establish the Kurdistan National Assembly and an election to elect its members was held on May 19, 1992 in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.
In July, 1992 the Kurdistan National Assembly convened and replaced the IKF.
However, due to rivalries between the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties, the KDP and the PUK, each had its own cabinet.
From 1994 to 1998 there was a civil war in Iraqi Kurdistan which ended when the US began to again involve itself more in Iraqi politics and convinced the leaders of the KDP and PUK to sign the US mediated Washington Accord on September 17, 1998.
A little more than a month later the US Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 and President Clinton signed it into law on October 31, 1998.
SEC. 3. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD IRAQ.In 2005 the second election for the Kurdistan National Assembly was held, 13 years after the first election.
It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.
SEC. 5. DESIGNATION OF IRAQI DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION ORGANIZATION.
(a) INITIAL DESIGNATION. - Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall designate one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that the President determines satisfy the criteria set forth in subsection (c) as eligible to receive assistance under section 4.
(b) DESIGNATION OF ADDITIONAL ORGANizATiONS. - At any time subsequent to the initial designation pursuant to subsection (a), the President may designate one or more additional Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that the President determines satisfy the criteria set forth in subsection (c) as eligible to receive assistance under section 4.
(c) CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION. - In designating an organization pursuant to this section, the President shall consider only organizations that -
(1) include a broad spectrum of Iraqi individuals, groups, or both, opposed to the Saddam Hussein regime; and
(2) are committed to democratic values, to respect for human rights, to peaceful relations with Iraq's neighbors, to maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, and to fostering cooperation among democratic opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime.
SEC. 7. ASSISTANCE FOR IRAQ UPON REPLACEMENT OF SADDAM HUSSEIN REGIME.
It is the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, by providing democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, and by convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to Iraq's foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein's regime.
In 2006, the two separate KRG cabinets unified to form a single cabinet.
In 2009 a controversial draft constitution was approved by the Kurdistan National Assembly, which was elected in 2005. However, it has still not been submitted to a referendum and there are calls in the assembly for it to be revised.
The third election for the assembly was held in 2009, which is also the year in which the name of the Kurdistan National Assembly was changed to the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament.
The fourth election was held on September 21, 2013, after which it took almost nine months of negotiaitons for the government to be formed, and the cabinet was sworn in on June 18, 2014.
There are 111 seats in the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament, with 11 seats reserved for minorities
- five Turkmen, five Assyrian, and one Armenian.
|2013 election results for the 100 non-reserved seats|
|Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)||37.79%||38 seats|
|Movement for Change (Gorran)||24.21%||24 seats|
|Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)||17.80%||18 seats|
|Kurdistan Islamic Union (Yekgirtu)||9.49%||10 seats|
|Islamic Group (League) in Kurdistan (Komal)||6.01%||6 seats|
|Islamic Movement of Kurdistan||1.1%||1 seat|
|Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party||0.6%||1 seat|
|Kurdistan Communist Party||0.6%||1 seat|
|Kurdistan Toilers' Party||0.4%||1 seat|
|Information about the five largest parties is available at Rudaw.|
Jalal Talabani, the leader of the PUK since 1975, has been the President of Iraq since 2005, first under the TAL and beginning in 2006 under the Iraqi constitution.
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- The very interesting Constitution of Iraq
The following are excerpts from the Constitution of Iraq which came into force in May, 2006 and replaced the TAL.Establish a unified sovereign state, constitutional guarantee of the unity of the state, charge federal authorities with preserving the unity of the state, establish the preeminence of the constitution:
I have put them in an order which I hope will make some aspects of the constitution easier to understand, with short notes before the excerpts.
Article 1:Establish the official languages:
The Republic of Iraq is a single federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is republican, representative, parliamentary, and democratic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.
The federal authorities shall preserve the unity, integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Iraq and its federal democratic system.
First: This Constitution is the preeminent and supreme law in Iraq and shall be binding in all parts of Iraq without exception.
Second: No law that contradicts this Constitution shall be enacted. Any text in any regional constitutions or any other legal text that contradicts this Constitution shall be considered void.
Article 4:List the nine exclusive authorities of the federal government:
First: The Arabic language and the Kurdish language are the two official languages of Iraq.
Fourth: The Turkomen language and the Syriac language are two other official languages in the administrative units in which they constitute density of population.
Article 110:Establish the possibility, not the power, to assess taxes in this oddly worded article while keeping taxation out of the exclusive authorities of the federal government:
The federal government shall have exclusive authorities in the following matters:
First: Formulating foreign policy and diplomatic representation; negotiating, signing, and ratifying international treaties and agreements; negotiating, signing, and ratifying debt policies and formulating foreign sovereign economic and trade policy.
Second: Formulating and executing national security policy, including establishing and managing armed forces to secure the protection and guarantee the security of Iraq’s borders and to defend Iraq.
Third: Formulating fiscal and customs policy; issuing currency; regulating commercial policy across regional and governorate boundaries in Iraq; drawing up the national budget of the State; formulating monetary policy; and establishing and administering a central bank.
Fourth: Regulating standards, weights, and measures.
Fifth: Regulating issues of citizenship, naturalization, residency, and the right to apply for political asylum.
Sixth: Regulating the policies of broadcast frequencies and mail.
Seventh: Drawing up the general and investment budget bill.
Eighth: Planning policies relating to water sources from outside Iraq and guaranteeing the rate of water flow to Iraq and its just distribution inside Iraq in accordance with international laws and conventions.
Ninth: General population statistics and census.
Article 28:Establish decentralization:
First: No taxes or fees shall be levied, amended, collected, or exempted, except by law.
Article 116:Elaborate on decentralization, recognize the KRoI, allow the creation of other regions, allow regions to nullify federal laws in the regions (Article 121 Second), make the federal government's exclusive authority to 'First: Formulating foreign policy and diplomatic representation' no longer exclusive (Article 121 Fourth):
The federal system in the Republic of Iraq is made up of a decentralized capital, regions, and governorates, as well as local administrations.
Article 117:Define competencies shared by the federal authorities and regional authorities, make the federal government's exclusive authority to 'Third: Formulating ... customs policy' no longer exclusive (Article 114 First), establish the preeminence of the regions and governorates in all areas other than the very limited exclusive federal powers, including the just established shared competencies:
First: This Constitution, upon coming into force, shall recognize the region of Kurdistan, along with its existing authorities, as a federal region.
Second: This Constitution shall affirm new regions established in accordance with its provisions.
One or more governorates shall have the right to organize into a region based on a request to be voted on in a referendum submitted in one of the following two methods:
First: A request by one-third of the council members of each governorate intending to form a region.
Second: A request by one-tenth of the voters in each of the governorates intending to form a region.
Each region shall adopt a constitution of its own that defines the structure of powers of the region, its authorities, and the mechanisms for exercising such authorities, provided that it does not contradict this Constitution.
First: The regional powers shall have the right to exercise executive, legislative, and judicial powers in accordance with this Constitution, except for those authorities stipulated in the exclusive authorities of the federal government.
Second: In case of a contradiction between regional and national legislation in respect to a matter outside the exclusive authorities of the federal government, the regional power shall have the right to amend the application of the national legislation within that region.
Fourth: Offices for the regions and governorates shall be established in embassies and diplomatic missions, in order to follow cultural, social, and developmental affairs.
Article 114:Establish regional and governorate oversight of the federal government, again make the federal government's exclusive authority to 'First: Formulating foreign policy and diplomatic representation' no longer exclusive (Article 105), make the federal government's exclusive authority to 'Third: Formulating fiscal ... policy' no longer exclusive (Article 106):
The following competencies shall be shared between the federal authorities and regional authorities:
First: To manage customs, in coordination with the governments of the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region, and this shall be regulated by a law.
Second: To regulate the main sources of electric energy and its distribution.
Third: To formulate environmental policy to ensure the protection of the environment from pollution and to preserve its cleanliness, in cooperation with the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region.
Fourth: To formulate development and general planning policies.
Fifth: To formulate public health policy, in cooperation with the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region.
Sixth: To formulate the public educational and instructional policy, in consultation with the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region.
Seventh: To formulate and regulate the internal water resources policy in a way that guarantees their just distribution, and this shall be regulated by a law.
All powers not stipulated in the exclusive powers of the federal government belong to the authorities of the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region. With regard to other powers shared between the federal government and the regional government, priority shall be given to the law of the regions and governorates not organized in a region in case of dispute.
Article 105:Oil and gas, note the word 'present' in Article 112 First:
A public commission shall be established to guarantee the rights of the regions and
governorates that are not organized in a region to ensure their fair participation in managing the various state federal institutions, missions, fellowships, delegations, and regional and international conferences. The commission shall be comprised of representatives of the federal government and representatives of the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region, and shall be regulated by a law.
A public commission shall be established by a law to audit and appropriate federal
revenues. The commission shall be comprised of experts from the federal government,
the regions, the governorates, and its representatives, and shall assume the following responsibilities:
First: To verify the fair distribution of grants, aid, and international loans pursuant to the entitlement of the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region.
Second: To verify the ideal use and division of the federal financial resources.
Third: To guarantee transparency and justice in appropriating funds to the governments of the regions and governorates that are not organized in a region in accordance with the established percentages.
Article 111:Establish protection for regions' constitutional powers:
Oil and gas are owned by all the people of Iraq in all the regions and governorates.
First: The federal government, with the producing governorates and regional governments, shall undertake the management of oil and gas extracted from present fields, provided that it distributes its revenues in a fair manner in proportion to the population distribution in all parts of the country, specifying an allotment for a specified period for the damaged regions which were unjustly deprived of them by the former regime, and the regions that were damaged afterwards in a way that ensures balanced development in different areas of the country, and this shall be regulated by a law.
Second: The federal government, with the producing regional and governorate governments, shall together formulate the necessary strategic policies to develop the oil and gas wealth in a way that achieves the highest benefit to the Iraqi people using the most advanced techniques of the market principles and encouraging investment.
Article 126:Include articles of the TAL which are advantageous to the KRoI in the constitution, mentioning TAL Article 58 three times - with two instances having no time limit on its implementation and with one instance having a time limit on its implementation:
Fourth: Articles of the Constitution may not be amended if such amendment takes away from the powers of the regions that are not within the exclusive powers of the federal authorities, except by the approval of the legislative authority of the concerned region and the approval of the majority of its citizens in a general referendum.
Article 140:Establish the legality of all KRG laws, the KRG asserts that this also applies to all future laws as there is no cap to 'since 1992':
First: The executive authority shall undertake the necessary steps to complete the implementation of the requirements of all subparagraphs of Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law.
Second: The responsibility placed upon the executive branch of the Iraqi Transitional Government stipulated in Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law shall extend and continue to the executive authority elected in accordance with this Constitution, provided that it accomplishes completely (normalization and census and concludes with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citizens), by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007.
The Transitional Administrative Law and its Annex shall be annulled on the seating of the new government, except for the stipulations of Article 53(A) and Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law.
Legislation enacted in the region of Kurdistan since 1992 shall remain in force, and decisions issued by the government of the region of Kurdistan, including court decisions and contracts, shall be considered valid unless they are amended or annulled pursuant to the laws of the region of Kurdistan by the competent entity in the region, provided that they do not contradict with the Constitution.