Barzani phones Iraq's newly appointed PM; calls him 'friend' of Kurds

Leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Masoud Barzani spoke by phone on Thursday to Iraqi Prime Minister-Designate Adil Abdul-Mahdi, describing him as a "friend" of Kurdistan's people.
author_image Kosar Nawzad

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Masoud Barzani spoke by phone on Thursday to Iraqi Prime Minister-Designate Adil Abdul-Mahdi, describing him as a "friend" of Kurdistan's people.

Following his election to the post of president by parliament on Tuesday, Barham Salih named Abdul-Mahdi, a former Iraqi vice president, as Prime Minister-Designate and tasked him with forming the next government. According to procedures laid out in the nation's constitution, he will have 30 days to submit his cabinet to parliament for approval.

"In the phone call, president Barzani described Abdul-Mahdi as a friend of the people of Kurdistan," began a short description of the conversation published by Barzani's office.

Barzani, formerly the president of the Kurdistan Region, expressed his "full" support for the efforts of Abdul-Mahdi to form the federal government of Iraq and wished him success in these endeavors.

The statement highlighted that the KDP leader had said he was sure that Abdul-Mahdi would "keep in mind" the interests of Iraq and Kurdistan.

In the late 1990s and for a brief period, Abdul-Mahdi was reportedly the supervisor of the Kurdistan Region office of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and developed ties with the Kurdish leadership.

Barzani's supportive words for Abdul-Mahdi were in sharp contrast to those announced following the election of rival party member Barham Salih to be Iraq's president, a post the KDP unsuccessfully attempted to fill. 

Following a meeting of its Leadership Council presided over by Barzani, the party rejected the mechanism the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) used in appointing Salih. A statement read, "We do not consider the post as representing the people of Kurdistan."

A year after a dramatic meltdown in relations, Baghdad and Erbil have been steadily increasing communication and cooperation in recent months. After the Kurdistan Region held its controversial independence referendum in September 2017, Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias (PMF) marched on and took Kirkuk and other disputed territories, forcing Peshmerga to retreat from their posts.

Editing by John J. Catherine