"We believe Barzani enjoys a powerful position within the KDP and has closer relations with Gorran than other KDP leaders; there is much understanding between him and Gorran. I suppose there is political trust in general between Nechirvan Barzani as a person and Gorran Movement," Osman said.
How do you view the recent meeting between KDP Vice President Nechirvan Barzani and Head of the Gorran Movement Nawshirwan Mustafa? Do you think it's a positive step toward better political relations?
I think the visit came late. I presume Nechirvan Barzani was scheduled to conduct that visit earlier, following last year's visit of the Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani to head KDP meetings with opposition parties in general and the Gorran Movement in particular.
What is the most important thing about the visit?
The visit melted the ice in the relations of KDP and Gorran. I hope the achievements that have been gained through this initiative will help further improve the political relations between the two sides. The visit comes at a time when Barzani is a candidate to head the next government cabinet, so discussing the formation of the government with the opposition is another important side of the visit.
Do you believe Nechirvan Barzani will be able to break the ice between KDP and opposition parties?
I think it is crucial that KDP members and leaders realize that forming better relations with other parties serves the interests of KDP itself, and selecting Nechirvan Barzani to head this task is the right selection, because we believe he enjoys a powerful position within KDP and has closer relations with Gorran Movement than other KDP leaders; there is much understanding between him and Gorran. I suppose there is political trust between Nechirvan Barzani as a person and the Gorran Movement.
In a statement to the media, Nechirvan Barzani said it has no firm stance on the opposition parties, package for reform. Is that a starting point for making serious reforms in Kurdistan?
Both KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan accepted the opposition's proposals for reform and they have shown their willingness to discuss them; however, there is still a lack of willingness to put the reforms into practice. No serious steps have been taken in that direction so far. Only accepting the proposals in theory is not enough. If the government responds to the demands for reform and makes the context of opposition party proposals the government's plan for future, at that time, the opposition stance to the next government will be different.
Will you vote for the next cabinet in Parliament if the plans of the cabinet contain serious plans for reform?
Whether we vote for the cabinet or not, it won't make a difference, because forming the cabinet depends on majority votes of MPs. KDP and PUK have enough members in Parliament to pass the cabinet.
How do opposition parties intend to support the next cabinet?
We can support the government through constructive criticism, proposing plans for reform, monitoring the government and pointing fingers at shortcomings so the government deals with them.
Do you feel you are independent in making decisions in Parliament or do you always have to go back to Gorran leaders?
Due to the nature of democracy in Kurdistan, there is a misunderstanding regarding this issue. The MPs represent the political parties, and MPs should consult their party leaders on crucial issues. We, as the Gorran members, are part of the Gorran Movement and its plans, and we have to consider the movement's opinion in every important matter.
Let's address an Iraqi issue: Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi came to Kurdistan a few months ago and is wanted by the Judiciary Council in Baghdad. Some say this will drag Kurdistan into Sunni-Shiite conflicts, while others say it shows the strength of Kurdistan. What is your opinion?
The possibilities you have mentioned are correct. Some political parties in Iraq intend to drag the Kurdistan Region into their internal conflicts. On the other hand, escaping of the leaders to Kurdistan is a reflection of the fact that the Region has a strong foothold in Iraq, so the Iraqi leaders are seeking support from the Region. But the Kurdish leaders must cautiously deal with Sunni-Shiite issues. Kurdish policymakers, including opposition leaders, represent the interests of the people, so they have to take the nation's interests into consideration.
In your view, what are these interests?
We have to reassess our achievements within this new Iraq. The disputed areas are another issue, with 40% of the Kurdistan soil now outside Kurdish jurisdiction. It needs to be returned. There are many other pending issues between Baghdad and Erbil that need to be resolved. Kurdish leaders are obliged to address these issues with the Iraqi leaders constantly, because these issues contain the national interests of the Kurdish people in general.
The Kurdish public has asked leaders to exploit Sunni-Shiite conflicts and use a certain side for their interests. Is that a realistic stance?
The Kurds should not aim to use one side against another one; it's a bad policy and will bring negative implications as well. Instead, the lawmakers must work on internal issues by making efforts to strengthen institutions, freedom and conduct reform, establish an efficient government, and improve relations between the ruling and opposition parties.
Do you think the opposition parties have offered enough support to the ruling parties concerning external threats to the Region?
Frankly, I think we have supported them very much. Regarding national matters, the opposition parties have launched initiatives and were always willing to coordinate with other parties. This is the reason why Head of the Gorran Movement is suggesting the establishment of a national commission that studies the national issues, especially the outstanding issues between Baghdad and Erbil -- a commission that is monitored by the Kurdistan Parliament so all blocs participate in the dialogue. Without a doubt, we will support the other parties when it comes to matters related to the nation's destiny and we will not compromise our national rights.
Some other parts of Kurdistan are emerging from a sensitive political period under the influence of the so-called "Arab Spring." Do you believe Kurdish politicians have dealt with this development logically?
What is obvious is that so far the Kurdish political parties have dealt with this these developments with a national spirit; reviving the spirit of nationalism is very important for the Kurdish community now. The survival and prosperity of Iraqi Kurdistan Region is crucial for other parts and the opposite is true.