Massoud Barzani (Kurdish: مسعود بارزانی; Arabic: مسعود بارزاني; born 16 August 1946) is the current President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Barzani was born in Mahabad, Iran, during the rule of the Republic of Mahabad. He has five sons (including Masrour) and three daughters.
Massoud Barzani succeeded his father, the former Kurdish nationalist leader Mustafa Barzani, as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in 1979. Working closely with his brother Idriss Barzani until Idriss' death, Barzani and various other Kurdish groups fought Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq War. For much of this time, the Kurdish leadership was exiled to Iran.
The Autonomous Zone
With Saddam Hussein's defeat in the first Gulf War, Kurdish forces were able to retake much of the traditional homeland of the Kurds in Iraq. However, as Iraqi forces regrouped they pushed the Kurdish fighters back and hundreds of thousands of civilians fled to the mountains bordering Iran and Turkey, where thousands died under heavy fire from Iraqi gunships and many more succumbed to starvation and exposure. United States-led allies started Operation Provide Comfort to establish a safe zone within Iraq. This zone, protected by a no-fly zone, eventually developed into an autonomous Kurdish zone under the control of the two dominant Kurdish political parties, the KDP led by Massoud Barzani and the PUK led by Jalal Talabani. This zone incorporated most of the three governorates of Duhok, Hewler, and Silemani.
The Kurdish zone was divided between the two dominant parties; KDP in the Northwest and PUK in the Southeast. In December 1994 fighting broke out between the Peshmerga of PUK and of KDP. PUK quickly gained the upper hand and took control of Hewler city. Several armistice agreements were made and broken.
In the summer of 1996 Massoud Barzani called on the assistance of Saddam Hussein's Baath regime, and drove the PUK over the border to Iran. The PUK eventually regrouped and with Iranian assistance retook Silemani and parts of Hewler province. Hewler city remained in the hands of the KDP.
President of Kurdistan Region
After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 Barzani became a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and was the president of the council in April 2004. He was elected as the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan region by the Parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan in June 2005.
In his presidency Mr Barzani has established several institutions in the Kurdistan Region to develop its emerging democracy, strengthen alliances and improve the decision-making process. In January 2007 he established the Kurdistan Presidency Council, which includes the Deputy President (Mr Kosrat Rasul Ali), the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region.
In February 2011, President Barzani received the Atlantic Award from the Italian Atlantic Committee and the Italian Delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly, for his role in promoting peace, stability, and religious tolerance in the region. During the same visit Pope Benedict XVI received President Barzani and paid tribute to the President for his role in providing refuge and assistance to the fleeing Christians. The Atlantic Award is annually conferred to prominent international figures for their role in promoting peace, stability and religious tolerance in their regions.
As President of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani has made official visits to several countries including: meeting with US President George W. Bush at the White House (25 October 2005), UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street (31 October 2005), The Pope at the Vatican (14 November 2005), Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi in Rome (13 November 2005), King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh (13 March 2007) and King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman (19 March 2007).
In July 2009, in the first direct election for the presidency of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani was reelected as president by a popular ballot, receiving 69.6% of the votes. The elections were closely monitored by international observers and the Iraqi Electoral Commission. They were declared "free and fair".
Massoud Barzani and his relatives allegedly control a large number of commercial enterprises in Kurdistan-Iraq, with a gross value of several billion US dollars. The family is routinely accused of corruption and nepotism by some Kurdish media as well as international observers including Michael Rubin. In spite of the alleged accusation, President Barzani on several occasions has denied involvement in any commercial enterprises. In May 2010 the journalist Sardasht Osman was murdered after criticising the Barzani family. In July 2010 the opposition paper Rozhnama accused the Barzani-led KDP of pocketing large sums from illegal oil-smuggling.
From : www.wikipedia.org