Death of Gorran leader shakes up Kurdistan political landscape

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) issued a collective pardon to officials of the Change Movement (Gorran) before the leader of the Gorran party, Nawshirwan Mustafa, was even buried. The text of the pardon appeared to be serious on the surface, but its contents were more like a joke. How could the PUK call upon the Gorran party to reunite now when it wasn’t prepared to commit to its alliance with the Gorran party while its leader was still alive? 

Recent statement issued by ranking Gorran officials clearly state that they want to remain committed to their movement and have no intentions to unite with the PUK. This is the only stance expected from the Gorran party. In a speech during the signing ceremony of the pact with the PUK, Nawshirwan Mustafa had said that more vital than the signing of the alliance was its implementation. 

The splintered nature of the PUK doesn’t make it an ideal party for the Change Movement to re-unite with. In addition, the term ‘reunification’ in this context is used when a party breaks apart and then they reconcile and become one again. If the Gorran party accepts this term to be used in its discourse, then it was dishonest with its voters and fans ever since 2009. 

I believe there was a better chance of the PUK and Gorran uniting when Nawshirwan was still alive, because he was the only one, after PUK leader Jalal Talabani, who could silence and put an end to disagreements that exist within the PUK leadership. Now that their leader has passed away, for Gorran members and fans to unite with the PUK is the same as seeing their movement collapse. 

So what will happen with the Gorran party after the death of its leader? It is very likely that the movement will remain the same. However, it will not be as strong as it was in the past. It is likely that many previous PUK members within the Gorran party will join the PUK again and the youth of the movement might become a civilian force without a central body to guide them. 

The emotions shown by people during the burial ceremony and mourning procession of Mustafa demonstrate that there is a big civilian force that is dissatisfied. Further disappointment of this civilian force is more dangerous to all of us than uniting them under one umbrella. 

Thus, conditions are now apt for a new dissenting movement to emerge in the Kurdistan Region, a movement that learns from the positive experiences and mistakes made by Gorran over the past eight years. This kind of movement will prevent the Region’s youth from becoming radicalized, dispersed, and disillusioned. Moreover, it should be a movement that doesn’t set fire to its own country.

This kind of movement needs a leader that is courageous, dissenting, and decisive. But a leader of this nature is unlikely to currently or in the future exist within the PUK, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), or Gorran.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.