Massoud Barzani was born the same day that the KDP was founded: on August 16, 1946.
In his words “I was born in the shadow of Kurdish flag in Mahabad and I am ready to serve and die for the same flag”.
Massoud Barzani was born in Mahabad when his father, the late General Mustafa Barzani, was Chief of the military of the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad declared in Iranian Kurdistan. When the Republic fell, Mustafa Barzani went to USSR with five hundred of his devoted followers. Massoud Barzani with the rest of the family and thousands of Barzani members returned to Iraq. They were promptly deported to the southern parts of the country.
An avid pupil, Massoud Barzani began his primary education in Arabic. Prior to the overthrow of Iraqi monarch in 1958, he and his family were moved to Baghdad. The new Republic of General Abdulkerim Qasim welcomed Mustafa Barzani and his followers back to Iraq. Massoud Barzani was twelve years old when he was finally reunited with his father.
Over time, the family moved back to their home village of Barzan. They found their homes in ruins. Not long after, the Iraqi government resumed its repression against the Kurdish people. Left with no other alternatives, Mustafa Barzani and the KDP launched their armed struggle in 1961 to defend the rights of the Kurds.
At the age of sixteen, Massoud Barzani sacrificed his education and joined the Peshmerga forces. The young Barzani was deeply influenced by valour, leadership skills and compassion of his late father. Massoud Barzani’s experiences in the rugged mountains of Kurdistan were to provide him with the mettle and leadership skills that were to later propel him to the helm of the Kurdish movement.
It was not long before the KDP leadership began to notice the younger Barzani’s qualities. It came as no surprise when he, together with his late, elder brother Idris took part in the delegation, which signed the now defunct autonomy deal with Baghdad in March 1970.
When the Iraqi government reneged on its pledges once again, the Kurdish armed struggle resumed. Once again Massoud Barzani took part at the side of his father till the end of the movement in 1975.
When KDP re-organised itself in 1976, Mustafa Barzani was in USA for medical treatment and his son Massoud accompanied his father. Towards the end of 1978, he survived an assassination attempt in Vienna while returning to Kurdistan. He assumed a leading position in the KDP with his brother Idris and other key figures. After the death of Mustafa Barzani in March 1979, Massoud was elected as the new president of the KDP in the 9th Party Congress. Since then he has been re-elected as the Party’s President in three other general congresses.
Although Barzani did not have the opportunity to complete his education, his keen interest in reading, writing and studying political and military strategy has helped him abreast of international developments. His love for reading and football is well known.
He is married and has eight children. He speaks Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and English.
His book titled “Barzani and the Kurdish Liberation Movement” was published in Arabic and in three volumes.
In his words "It is a great honour to serve my people and the KDP. I hope to continue the policy and the works of its founder, Mustafa Barzani for peace, liberty and democracy."
Home and family
President Barzani wrote the book Mustafa Barzani and the Kurdish Liberation Movement. He is an avid reader and has a special interest in history, politics, the military and sport. He is fluent in Kurdish, Arabic and Persian, and understands English. He is married with eight children.
Mr Barzani has felt at close hand the harm done by violent dictatorial rule. The former Ba'ath regime killed three of his brothers, and 32 members of his family were among the 8,000 Barzani men and boys who ‘disappeared' in 1983. His ancestral village of Barzan was destroyed 16 times by successive Iraqi regimes. He has consistently worked for Iraqi democracy and to protect the rights of the people of the Kurdistan Region, so that all may enjoy a better future.
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Revised by Alexander Atroushi: 29-01-1998