Nawshirwan Mustafa, leader of Gorran.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The leader of the Kurdish opposition group, the Change Movement (Gorran), has shown strong support for the integration of Kurdistan Region into a democratic Iraq and has opposed the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, according to purported US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website, Wikileaks.
The cables, released in late November this year, show Washington’s confidential profile of the Gorran leader Nawshirwan Mustafa, who the American diplomats describe as an anti-corruption, Western-educated leader whose appeal is limited to Sulaimani province.
"Nawshirwan does not believe in creating an independent Kurdistan: 'The day of the mini-state is over.' He resolutely supports full Kurdish integration with a strong, democratic Iraq, whose constitution he views as a bulwark that will protect the Kurds and guarantee their rights," said US diplomats in Baghdad who wrote the profile in March 2009, months before Mustafa entered general elections in Kurdistan Region and stunningly won 25 seats in the 111-seat regional parliament.
"Nawshirwan feels strongly that the Kurds must not say or do things that will inflame Iraqi public opinion against them. He is upset that some Kurdish leaders have used intemperate rhetoric and advocated policies that have unnecessarily created tension between Arabs and Kurds. He cites statements calling for the US to establish military bases in the Kurdistan Region as an example," according to the US confidential documents, which profiled the Gorran leader after "a series of conversations with RRTOFF" identifying "his political and economic views," the cables say.
Although the US profile of the controversial Gorran leader stands in relative opposition to Mustafa's own public remarks about Kurdish right to self-determination, the recent alliance between Gorran MPs in the Iraqi parliament with the Shiite factions has once again highlighted the deep fragmentation of Kurdish parties' stand on the issue of independence.
Gorran lawmakers unanimously voted for the next year's Iraqi budget despite the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) call to reject the draft which Erbil described as discriminatory and against Kurdish interests.
"The KRG has long been violating the constitution since 2003 and frankly the Iraqi Supreme Court should hold the KRG accountable for the breaches," said Sirwa Abdulwaheed, a Gorran lawmaker whose recent inflammatory remarks about families of Peshmerga soldiers stirred protests across areas dominated by Gorran's arch rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
"It's time to denounce those who plan to secede Sulaimani (province) from the Kurdistan Region and link it to Baghdad or other regional countries," said a veteran Gorran lawmaker, Sardar Abdulla, in a rare acknowledgement by a party insider of Gorran's alleged efforts to undermine the KRG's position towards the central government in Baghdad and its derailed referendum bid.
Despite Kurdish President Masoud Barzani's insistence on holding a public vote on independence in Kurdistan Region, the long anticipated referendum seems to have been postponed in the face of growing political discord in the country. The KDP has accused other Kurdish parties, including Gorran and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), of not offering wholehearted support for the vote.
Pundits have also recently raised doubt about the possibility of holding general elections next year as the vote would require new political settlements for the so-called disputed territories, now under full Peshmerga control, cities like Kirkuk and Shingal still in the shadow of ISIS war.
"What does Nawshirwan want?" the cables ask. "Were he motivated purely by power and money, he would have had no incentive to walk away from the number two position in the party, which he did in December 2006. His motives for running an independent list in the upcoming KRG elections against the joint KDP-PUK list are unclear," the documents, which were sent to Washington in 2009, reveal.
"Perhaps Nawshirwan still holds fast to his long-term goal of becoming PUK General Secretary after [Jalal] Talabani (ref B) or perhaps he recognizes he has no political or financial backing to succeed on his own," they added.