from al Jazeera
The violent protests that broke out in the Iraqi Kurdish cities of Sulaimania and Halabja are a manifestation of long-festering tensions and came as no surprise to “Kurdistan” watchers.
But they may have as much to do with anger over delayed public sector salaries as they do with Machiavellian wrangling by parties involved in resolving the so-called “presidential crisis” due to Massoud Barzani’s refusal to step aside after his term expired on August 19.
Sources in Sulaimania insist the protests would stop if the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would only dole out the salaries that have been withheld for three months now. Bickering between Baghdad and Erbil over oil revenues has meant that the KRG has not received its share of the annual budget, but critics say the salaries could have been paid out of proceeds from the KRG’s oil sales to Turkey – estimated at an average of 600,000 barrels per day.
The protests are part of a bigger picture with many Kurdish analysts saying it is a revival of the dangerous powerplay between long-time rivals, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – and now, the relative newcomer, the Gorran (Change) Movement.
Gorran was founded in 2009 by former PUK cadre, with “calls for an end to monopoly control of power” and a stated mission to “uproot rampant corruption”.
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