Nawshirwan Mustafa

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Nawshirwan Mustafa
Nawshirwan Mustafa
General coordinator of Movement for Change
Assumed office
1 April 2009
Deputy Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
In office
1 November 1976 – 30 November 2006
Preceded by Kosrat Rasul Ali
Personal details
Born 1944
Slemani, Kurdistan
Political party Movement for Change
Residence Silemani, Kurdistan
Occupation Politician
Profession Historian, Author, Scholar
Religion Sunni Islam

Nawshirwan Mustafa (Kurdish: Newşîrwan Mistefa) is the General Coordinator (رێکخەری گشتی / rêkxerî giştî) of the Movement for Change and the leader of the official opposition in the Kurdistan Region.[1]

Early life[edit]

Nawshirwan Mustafa was born in the old quarter of Silemani, Kurdistan Region 1944, the eldest of two sons of Mustafa Émin, Mustafa's grandfather Émin Khider was a financier of the Kingdom of Kurdistan and its government according to the newspaper Pêşkewtin. Nawshirwan whose name means the immortal soul, was named by his father after the twentieth Sassanid Emperor Khusro I Anōšīravān (dadgar). Silemani has been the seat of the Mustafa family since the city was founded in 1784. Unlike Kurdistan's other prominent political leaders Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, Mustafa hails from a city not a village and is not a member of a tribe.

Mustafa attended the Royal King Faisal school at Silemani and was also taught foreign languages by private tutors at an early age, he went onto study at Baghdad University and then later at Vienna University.

Mustafa speaks in his native language Kurdish both Sorani and Kurmanji and is fluent in Arabic, Persian, English and German.

Posts held[edit]

Kurdistan Democratic Party[edit]

Mustafa joined the KDP in 1960 where he was very active in the youth branch,[2] He allied himself with Barzani's opponents in the politburo and resigned from the party before the KDP spilt.[2]


Mustafa published the Razgari magazine in 1968,[2] which represented the views of nationalists calling for greater autonomy for Kurds.[2]


Mustafa was sentenced to death in 1970 by Revolutionary Court in Baghdad, he as a result went into exile in Austria.[3]

Komala and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan[edit]

The PUK was originally founded in June 1975 by combining Mustafa's Komala with the Socialist Movement of Kurdistan, headed by Ali Askari,[4] under the general leadership of Jalal Talabani, the most influential of these groups was Komala.[5]

Worker-communist Party lawsuit[edit]

In July 2000 Patriotic Union of Kurdistan attacked the bases of Worker-communist Party and organizations close to it. During the attacks five were killed and some injured, also hundreds of party members were arrested.[6] In 2011 Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan appeal a lawsuit against Nawshirwan Mustafa and four other PUK senior members at that time as the responsible for the attacks.[7]

Wusha Corporation[edit]

Nawshirwan, in March 2007, established the Wusha Corporation in Sulaimaniyah. In response to a question as to why he had established such as vast media outlet, Nawshirwan stated, "we have attempted to change Kurdish politics from the inside, now let us attempt it from the outside". Nawshirwan has had a long history of pushing for a free media in the region in an interview with the London based Al-Sharq al-Awsat on 31 May 2003, he stated Iraq and Kurdistan need to "enact news laws that live up to the spirit of the age and are in line with the principles of human rights and civil society."

Branches of the Wusha Corporation:

  • Kurdish News Network, 24hr International News Channel
  • Rozhnama, Weekly Newspaper
  • Sbeiy, News Website
  • Dangi Gorran, 24hr Radio Station

The company's newspaper, Rozhnama; heavily criticized Jalal Talabani for deciding in March 2008 to sack party members from the PUK for speaking out against politicians in the press.[8]

Movement for Change[edit]

Nawshirwan was the head of the main opposition list, Change List, in the Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2009.[9] The Change List is a broad coalition which consists of independents, members of the PUK and KDP, and elements from many established parties in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Change List which was found by Nawshirwan Mustafa in 2006

The Change List won the support of more than 51% of the As Sulaymaniyah Governorate voters. The Change list participated in the Iraqi parliamentary election, 2010 and won 8 seats in both the As Sulaymaniyah and Arbil Governorates.

Jalal Talabani in November 2011 sent a delegation to see Nawshirwan on his behalf to "seek reconciliation" the delegation were told that “Talabani should reconcile with the People, not with Gorran” and that “we do not have any personal issue with Talabani”,[10] the speedy attempt at reconciliation by Talabani was seen as a fearful response to Mustafa's one on one meeting with Barzani, in which Talabani was fearful that Barzani may seek Mustafa as his new political ally. Mustafa has flatly refused to meet Talabani despite his various requests,[11] the relationship between the one time friends had reached an all time low after the two traded accusations about each other's actions during the Kurdish revolution in the media.[12]

Quotes about Mustafa[edit]

  • Fouad Ajami, The foreigner's gift: the Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq, Free Press, 2006: "Mustafa is a man who straddles the worlds of literature and politics, he is graceful and reserved"[13]
  • Cameron W. Barr, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 March 2003: "Mustafa, a gray-haired eminence in the Kurdish movement, was the architect of the Kurds' 1991 uprising against the regime of President Saddam Hussein"[14]
  • Chris Kutschera, The Middle East magazine, May 2008: "Mustafa is the enfant terrible of the Iraqi Kurdish national movement" and "he says loudly what many people dare not even whisper".[15]
  • Quil Lawrence, National Public Radio, 5 May 2009: "Mustafa is stern and often abrupt, but he's considered clean, even by a jaded and cynical Kurdish public".[16]
  • Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Yorker, 14 April 2003: "It has been said that Mustafa is a man who could ignite Kirkuk with a single telephone call" and that "his spies and rebels had seized cities across Kurdistan within days of Saddam’s retreat from Kuwait"[17]
  • Lennox Samuels, Newsweek, 23 June 2009: "The fact is that Gorran's standard bearer, Nawshirwan Mustafa, is also one of the peshmerga's heroes, just like KDP boss Massoud Barzani and PUK leader Jalal Talabani"[18]
  • Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, 7 November 2007: "Mustafa the steely-eyed intellectual turned guerrilla commander helped secretly organize the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein that challenged Baghdad's rule in the north and led to the establishment of the Kurdish autonomous region"[19]
  • Barham Salih KRG Prime Minister in an interview with Nalia Radio and Television Channel, October 2011, "Kak Nawshirwan Mustafa is a notable leader of Kurdistan who also historically revived the Kurdish revolution in 1976, he was my superior for 30 years and is the intellectual giant of our Kurdish nation"[20]
  • Gareth R. Stansfield, Iraqi Kurdistan: Political development and emergent democracy, "Mustafa is recognised as being guru-style ideologue, he represents a curious mix of an institutional historical figure, and yet is aggressively non-conformist within the PUK"[21]
  • Hasan Kanbolat, Today's Zaman, "Mustafa has created a powerful opposition alternative unforeseen in politics in Kurdistan"[22]
  • The United States Department of State, Wikileaks, U.S. state department refers to Mustafa as the "legendary Peshmerga commander"[23]


  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1997). La kanārī Dānubawa bo khaṛī Nāwzang:political events in Iraqi Kurdistan from 1975 to 1978. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1997). Panjakan yaktari ashkenin: political events in Iraqi Kurdistan from 1979 to 1983. Kurdistan: Zargata. ISBN 3-9806140-3-4. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1999). Khulāna la bāznadā: the inside story of events in Iraqi Kurdistan 1984-1988. Kurdistan: Meľbenî Awedanî Kurdistan. ISBN 3-9806140-3-4. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1992). Kurd u Ejam. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1993). Hukumati Kurdistan: Kurd le gemey Sovieti da. Kurdistan: K.I.B. ISBN 90-900635-6-0. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1998). Mīrāyatī Bābān lah nǐwān bardāshī R̮ǔm ū ʻAjamʹdā. Kurdistan: Melbendî Awedanî Kurdistan. ISBN 3-9806140-1-8. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (2000). Kurdistanî ʻÊraq: serdemî qełem u muraceʻat, 1928-1931. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (2002). Jian: Be tementirîn rōjnamey kurdî 1926 - 1938. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (2004). Jian: Çend lapereyek le mêjûy rojnamewaniy Kurdî, 1938-1958: rojnamewaniy nihênî. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1981). Karesati Hekari. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (1995). Kêşey Partî û Yekêtî. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (2009). Ême û Ewan. Kurdistan: Zargata. 
  • Mustafa, Nawshirwan (2012). Edeb û Tarikhi Kurdi. Kurdistan: Zargata. 

See also[edit]

Official party sites[edit]


  1. ^ Muir, Jim (24 July 2009). "Iraqi Kurds vote in 'vibrant' elections". BBC. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Edmund Ghareeb, Beth Dougherty, Historical Dictionary of Iraq,
  3. ^ Michael M. Gunter, Historical Dictionary of the Kurds,
  4. ^ Michael M. Gunter, Historical Dictionary of the Kurds,
  5. ^ Mohammed M. A. Ahmed, Michael M. Gunter, The evolution of Kurdish nationalism,
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Washington Institute for Near East Policy, The Future of the Iraqi Kurds,
  9. ^ News about Kurds and Kurdistan
  10. ^ Kurdistan Tribune, PUK leader Talabani seeks reconciliation with Gorran leader,
  11. ^ EKurd, Kurdistan opposition leader Nawshirwan responds to speech of Talabani,
  12. ^ EKurd, Jalal Talabani says Nawshirwan Mustafa secession was aggressive,
  13. ^ Fouad Ajami, The foreigner's gift: the Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq,
  14. ^ Cameron W. Barr, Lessons on how to oust Hussein,
  15. ^ CHRIS KUTSCHERA 35 YEARS of JOURNALISM, The Voice of the Opposition from Within,
  16. ^ QUIL LAWRENCE, Iraqi Kurds Try To Reform Two-Party System,
  17. ^ Jeffrey Goldberg, Letter From Northern Iraq: Wartime Friendships,
  18. ^ Lennox Samuels, Count Your Change,
  19. ^ Borzou Daragahi, IRAQ: Man on the hilltop,
  20. ^ Barham Salih, NRT Channel,
  21. ^ Gareth R. Stansfield, Iraqi Kurdistan: Political development and emergent democracy,
  22. ^ Hasan Kanbolat, Toward a Talabani and Nawshirwan alliance in northern Iraq,
  23. ^ The United States Department of State, Wikileaks,