Mustafa, Nawshirwan

(1944- )
   Previously known as Noshirwan Mustafa Amin, for many years Nawshirwan Mustafa was a top assistant of Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK was originally established in June 1975 by combining Mustafa's Marxist Komala (not related to the two Iranian groups that used this name) with the Socialist Movement of Kurdistan, led by Ali Askari. Nawshirwan Mustafa is also an accomplished author of many books, political thinker and strategist, and media proprietor. He was born in the old quarter of Sulaymaniya and attended universities in Baghdad and Vienna, where he studied political science and international law. As a student, he was very active in the student union and throughout his long career has always sought to maintain close relations with the public. In addition to his native Kurdish, Mustafa speaks English, German, Arabic, Persian, and some Turkish.
   He began his political career in 1961 by joining the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) but became disillusioned with its leadership and soon resigned to form his own organization, the Komala. This has become a recurring pattern throughout his career. He also began publishing a monthly journal called Rizgari (Salvation), which became popular among all elements of Kurdish society, especially the young. This has been another recurring pattern. However, for these activities, the Revolutionary Court in Baghdad sentenced him to death in 1970, and he went into exile in Austria. This experience and his numerous travels to European capitals also influenced his career.
   Mustafa played a leading role in the Kurdish uprising (Raparin) that followed the war in 1991, but he opposed the subsequent power sharing between the KDP and PUK as unproductive. He briefly went into exile in London but soon returned to his leadership role in the PUK. Following the second Gulf War in 2003, he was a major Kurdish negotiator during the drafting of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) and permanent constitution, whereby he stressed strong Kurdish rights for territory (Article 58 and Article 140, respectively) and Kurdish veto power. He then began to call for administrative reform in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which led to his resignation as the deputy secretary-general of the PUK on 5 December 2006. Mustafa cited "irreconcilable differences" in policy areas and methods of governance for his actions. In so doing he received strong backing from the strategically important Hamewand tribe. His name also became associated with the Rag faction, which was named after the Kurdish acronym for "democratic change" and had just emerged demanding that the top leaders of the PUK resign in favor of new leadership.
   In March 2007, Mustafa established the Wisha media corporation, which consisted of a newspaper called Rojname, a TV channel (Kurdish News Network-KNN), a radio station (Dengi Gorran), a printing press, a publishing house, and a website. In March 2008, he strongly criticized Jalal Talabani for sacking PUK party members who were criticizing established politicians. Mustafa made a dramatic impression by leading his Gorran (Change) party to approximately 24 percent of the vote in the KRG parliamentary elections held on 25 July 2009. This resulted in 25 seats in the new parliament and the creation of the first real opposition to the long-governing KDP-PUK coalition. However, Mustafa soon resigned from parliament to concentrate on his publishing activities. It remains to be seen how successful Mustafa will be in future Kurdish politics, but it is certain that he offers a definite option for change and reform.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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