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Masoud Barzani ( ) (born August 16, 1946) is the current President of the Iraqi Kurdistanmarker region and the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Barzani was born in Mahabadmarker, Iranmarker, during the rule of the Republic of Mahabadmarker. He has five sons (incl. Masrour) and three daughters.

Guerilla fighter

Masoud Barzani succeeded his father, the former Kurdish nationalist leader Mustafa Barzani, as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in 1979. Working closely with his brother Idriss Barzani until Idriss' untimely death, Barzani was able to continue the Kurdish guerilla struggle through the trying years of the Iran-Iraq War. For much of this time, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership was exiled to Iranmarker.

With Saddam Hussein's defeat in the first Gulf War, Kurdish forces were able to retake much of the traditional homeland of the Kurds in Iraq. However, as Iraqi forces regrouped they pushed the Kurdish fighters back and hundreds of thousands of civilians fled to the mountains bordering Iran and Turkey, where thousands died under heavy fire from Iraqi gunships and many more succumbed to starvation and exposure. Turkish authorities refused to allow Kurds into their country, and the United States-led allies stepped in to establish a safe zone within Iraq. This zone, protected by a no-fly zone, eventually developed into an autonomous Kurdish zone under the control of the two dominant Kurdish political parties, the KDP led by Masoud Barzani and the PUK led by Jalal Talabani. This zone incorporated most of the three governorates of Dohuk, Erbil, and Suleimaniyahmarker.

The Kurdish zone was divided between the two dominant parties; KDP in the Northwest and PUK in the Southeast. In December 1994 fighting broke out between the peshmerga of PUK and of KDP. PUK quickly gained the upper hand and took control of Erbil city. Several armistice agreements were made and broken.

In the summer of 1996 Masoud Barzani called on the assistance of Saddam Hussein's Baath regime, and drove the PUK over the border to Iran. The PUK eventually regrouped and with Iranian assistance retook Suleimaniyah and parts of Arbil province. Erbil city remained in the hands of the KDP.

President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 Barzani became a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and was the president of the council in April 2004. He was elected as the President of the Iraqi Kurdistanmarker region by the Parliament of Iraqi Kurdistanmarker in June 2005.

In his presidency Mr Barzani has established several institutions in the Kurdistan Region to develop its emerging democracy, strengthen alliances and improve the decision-making process. In January 2007 he established the Kurdistan Presidency Council, which includes the Deputy President (Mr Kosrat Rasul Ali), the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region.

In January 2007 he established the Kurdistan Presidency Council, which includes the Deputy President (Mr Kosrat Rasul Ali), the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region.

As President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani has made official visits to several countries including: meeting with US President George Bush at the White House (25 October 2005), UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street (31 October 2005), The Pope at the Vatican (14 November 2005), Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi in Rome (13 November 2005), King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh (13 March 2007) and King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman (19 March 2007).

In July 2009, in the first direct election for the presidency of the Kurdistan Region of Iraqmarker, Masoud Barzani was reelected as president by a popular ballot, receiving almost 68,3% of the votes.

Corruption charges

The Barzani family is often accused by the general public and observers like Michael Rubin of corruption and nepotism. The Barzanis are known to have amassed a considerable fortune after 1991, owning or controlling a large number of businesses, including the KOREK mobile phone company, several department stores and a chain of hotels. A recent estimate puts the Barzani family fortune at 2 billion USD.

References

External links




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