Washington- The Change Movement (Gorran) came like a tornado and amassed hundred of thousands of youths, new and old generation, women, and men, urbanists, and rural resident inside Kurdistan and among diaspora Kurds. It was seen as an alternative and revolutionary movement in Kurdistan to reshuffle the entire political system. It was promising that the newly established political party was able to win 25 percent of the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament seats twice without shooting a single bullet and without significant financial support, two crucial elements of power in the Middle East. However, the Movement is now stuck. It is neither opposition nor in power. Everyone is looking to Gorran’s charismatic leader, Nawshirwan Mustafa, but now no one has a clue what he is up to.
The Movement generated a tremendous amount of pressure on the two traditional ruling political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The Gorran’s media outlets were successful in educating public about corruption, financial mismanagement, social injustice, unemployments, and lack of essential services. The opposition era (2009-2013) is considered as the Gorran’s golden age as it resisted financial and political squeeze by the ruling parties; tens of thousands of the Gorran followers were fired from government jobs, the Party was not derived financial benefits it deserved by law. Yet, more people joined the Movement, and it inspired the February 17th, 2011 demonstrations and the days after. In its second bid for parliament in 2013, the Gorran’s followers increased, and its seats remained almost the same. However, this time, the Movement turned a different direction and pushed for power sharing with the PUK and the KDP. Many observers criticized the decision and described it as “early landing of the plane.”
The Gorran in the government, especially in a broad-based government, was lost. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was also not the same when the Gorran joined for two obvious reasons. First, the Iraqi Government cut KRG’s 17 percent budget in response to KRG’s unilateral oil sale. Second, the emergence of ISIS threat. These two reasons have frozen every reform cards. The KRG’s oil revenue failed to meet its minimum fiscal needs, partially due to global oil price drop. The threat of ISIS became serious when ISIS fighters turned to Kurdistan Region and targeted Shangal (Sinjar) and Erbil, KRG Capital. It was bad luck for the Gorran, but a golden opportunity for the PUK and the KDP who were trying to swallow the Gorran pressure. Well, they did.
Then the Gorran leadership was struck by Barzani’s presidency term. In 2013, a PUK Speaker of the Parliament extended Masoud Barzani’s presidential term for two years. Gorran leadership harshly criticized the PUK and built a political campaign on it. It was impossible for the Gorran Speaker to repeat the same mistake, but avoiding the bomb was almost impossible either. The political parties failed to reach a deal on Barzani’s presidential term. So does lawmakers. However, the role of the judicial branch was missing. No one has ever tried to take the case to court as a last midway solution for both sides. The Gorran should have done that to end parliament paralysis and sustain reform steps it took while in the government.
Now, the fight against ISIS is almost over, at leat in Iraq. The KRG’s financial standing continues to decline, but no concrete plan has been adopted by the KRG to resume growth. It is time to the Gorran leadership to make hard choices. First, the Movement should resume its decisive decision-making process. Second, the leadership should start mobilizing the public on issues concern them through a bottom-up campaign without taking on the streets. Third, the Party should work to build a more efficient coalition with other political parties including the minorities. The Gorran has to adopt a clear and practical plan to the upcoming elections by resuming the risk taking policy. In order to that, it has to end the legal dispute on Barzani’s presidency through court and focus on real issues, the people’s issues. Otherwise, there is no point to go to a new election.