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Protests Spark Political Debate in Iraqi Kurdistan

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TEHRAN, Feb 28 (ICANA) – The normally peaceful region of Iraqi Kurdistan has over the last 10 days been rocked by anti-government protests, largely focused in the region's second, and traditionally more liberal, city of Sulaymaniyah.
Monday, February 28, 2011 10:09:49 AM
Protests Spark Political Debate in Iraqi Kurdistan
At least 4 people have so far been killed, with countless injured. The protesters, inspired by popular uprisings throughout the Arab world, are calling for an end to corruption, nepotism, and a lack of basic services. However, government figures accuse the major opposition party, Gorran, known in English as the Movement for Change, of manipulating the protests for their own agenda. In the wake of the most bloody day of the protests, when 3 were killed in Sulaymaniyah, Gorran party branches were vandalized and burned throughout the region. Gorran figures accuse government military and security forces of carrying out these attacks, and said they will withdraw their offices from those areas dominated by the government parties. A harsh war of words was ignited following the demonstrations. A leading government figure, Fahdil Mirani, said publicly that they will "cut off all the hands who rise up to remove the current stability in the system", while the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Arsalan Bayiz, said in parliament that the government will "squash the heads of the Gorran movement." Nonetheless, Gorran deny manipulating the protesters for their own needs. Support for this notion comes also from the Islamic opposition parties. The government denies any parallel with other protests in the Arab world, as the political leaders in Iraqi Kurdistan were chosen in elections judged to be largely free and fair. At any rate, it must be pointed out that the protests in Iraqi Kurdistan have not reached the proportions of those in the Arab world - and have not materialized at all in those areas that are considered political strongholds of the governing parties. This harshening of dialogue between Gorran and the governing parties, can be seen as yet another example, of the growing division in Iraqi Kurdish society between the opposition movement, and those loyal to the parties of Kurdish revolution.
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