Kawa Hassan, director of EWI's Middle East and North America program, speaks to Asia Times on allegations of voter fraud in last month's general elections in Iraqi Kurdistan. Below are excerpts of his comments.
Allegations of fraud, vote stealing and intimidation in the May 12 ballot are widespread, with “the potential for instability in the region very, very real,” said Kawa Hassan, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Brussels-based East-West Institute. “It’s getting very complex and very difficult to predict.”
“[Yet] given the series of major, transformative events that have recently happened for many, this result was really pretty surprising,” Hassan said.
“This favored the established parties,” Hassan said. “The KDP [Kurdish Democratic Party] and PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] have all sorts of ways of getting their people out to vote, while those who don’t turn out are usually oppositionists or those who have lost faith in the system.”
“A lot of people say Iran helped the PUK,” Hassan said, “although it’s hard to get evidence. If you put together all the pieces though, you can see why opposition parties and civil society activists say the results don’t make sense.”
Still, “I don’t know how they will manually recount 11 million votes,” Hassan said. “I don’t know where they will find the resources.”