Gorran’s Fragmented Forces

Gorran supporters gather outside the party HQ following the death of Nawshirwan Mustafa, May 2017

By Arian Mufid:

When Gorran’s founder addressed the movement’s first conference in 2016, he stated that he wanted it to be “a solid, coherent and structured organisation with a strong system which cannot be undermined by the disappearance of one or two leaders”. Nawshirwan Mustafa passed away on 19 May 2017 and subsequently Gorran suffered its most profound electoral setback in September 2018 when it lost almost half its parliamentary seats.

Following Nawshirwan’s death, Gorran’s national executive council appointed a new leadership which has little connection to the movement inside and outside Kurdistan. The General-Coordinator, Omar Syed Ali is cut from PUK cloth, heavily influenced by that party’s history and culture and having little in common with the average Gorran movement supporter.

He can be painted as a typical PUK leader; his politics do not fit with the original ethics and ideals of the Gorran movement. The nepotism and familial privileges displayed during the recent assigning of governmental posts by the Gorran leadership is damaging to the core values of a movement founded with the intent to move Kurdish politics away from the corrupt nepotism that has plagued the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The new leader has failed to assert Gorran’s independent identity although, so far as other Kurdish leaders are concerned, he has slotted into his new job easily.

The Gorran movement has agreed to join the new KRG cabinet, taking four ministerial appointments. However, the membership is divided on whether the movement should participate and have a say within the government or else go back to the strategic approach of building a strong opposition towards the mainstream duopoly of Kurdish politics. Political observers note a clear division inside the movement on the assignment of posts to the leadership’s friends, family and loyalists. In particular, the post of finance minister has been assigned to an individual who does not possess the required skill or knowledge to undertake such a role. While it’s true that modern jobs often have an entire supportive crew, it still requires a competent person to lead. Although Gorran’s founding purpose was about establishing true democracy and justice, ever since Nawshirwan’s death the movement seems to have been infiltrated by endless nepotism and corruption. At this stage Gorran are furnishing their castle with autocratic and Stalinist style leadership.

Gorran is critically divided into at least four fractions: a group around the leadership who mainly originate from the PUK; a group led by Kadr Haji Ali, claiming that Gorran must stick to its 2009 founding principles; grassroots opponents to the movement’s participation with the KDP in the new KRG cabinet; and an ineffective group around Nawshirwan’s two sons. In order to save and revive the movement before it’s too late, principled politicians within Gorran must:

First, press for a conference at the earliest stage possible and new leadership elections. This will be crucial for the movement to take a new direction and also develop effective short-term tactics.

Second, campaign for the removal of all the government ministers selected by the current Gorran leadership and their replacement by suitably qualified individuals.

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