HE Masoud BarzaniPresident of Iraqi Kurdistan
Source of Influence: Political
School of Thought: Sunni
Status: Featured in current year
Politician: He entered the political arena at the young age of 16 under the wing of his late father the Kurdish nationalist leader Mustafa Barzani and became the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 1979. He had a major role in shaping the new Iraq through his political position and by becoming a member of the Iraqi Governing Council in April 2004 after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. He has been the main force fighting DA’ISH and is adamant about establishing an independent Kurdish state.
Referendum: A referendum was held on 25th September 2017 and 93% of the electorate (8.4 million people) voted to break away from Iraq and form an independent Kurdistan. This is vehemently opposed by the Iraqi government, who have already suspended international flights into the area and are expected to ramp up more pressure, neighbouring countries, who are worried about their own Kurish populations asking for independence, and allies fighting DA’ISH, who are worried that the focus of attention moving away from DA’ISH may allow the latter to regroup.. There are approximately five million Kurds living within the Kurdish region in Iraq, 14.5 million in Turkey, 6 million in Iran, and less than 2 million in Syria.