Massoud Barzani Fast Facts
Birth date: August 16, 1946
Birth place: Mahabad, Kurdistan, Iran
Birth name: Massoud Barzani
Father: General Mustafa Barzani, was chief of the military of the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad
Mother: Hamayil Khan
Marriage: Married (name unavailable publicly)
Children: Eight children
Religion: Sunni Muslim
Fluent in Kurmanji (Kurdish), Arabic, Farsi (Persian) and English.
Leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) since 1979.
The KDP has an estimated 10,000 fighters and controls the northwestern part of Iraqi Kurdistan along the border of Syria, Turkey and Iran.
Barzani was born on the same day that the KDP was founded in 1946.
1962 – Quits school to join the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters).
1961-1975 – The Kurds fight the Iraqi government in a quest for autonomy within Iraq.
1970 – Is a member of the Kurdish delegation in talks with the government of Baghdad seeking a peace accord authorizing Kurdish self-government. An agreement is reached between Iraqi government and Kurds granting some autonomy.
June 1975 – Former leader Jalal Talabani leaves the KDP to form the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), forcing a reorganization of the KDP.
1979 – Escapes an assassination attempt in Vienna, Austria.
1979 – Elected president of the KDP after the death of his father.
1994 – The Kurds in northern Iraq are divided into eastern and western political factions. Barzani is named the head of the northwestern region as head of the KDP. A parallel government is established in the east under the PUK.
1994-1998 – Barzani leads a war against the PUK. A peace agreement is reached in August 1998.
October 4, 2002 – Barzani and Talabani, leader of the PUK, apologize to the families of the victims of their internal war.
January 30, 2005 – Barzani is one of approximately 7,700 candidates in Iraq’s first free elections in over 50 years.
June 2005 – Elected president of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq.
July 25, 2009 – Re-elected president of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq with 71% of the vote.
July 2013 – The Kurdish parliament votes to extend Barzani’s presidential term an additional two years.
June 23, 2014 – In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Barzani gives his strongest-ever indication that his region, Iraqi Kurdistan, would seek formal independence from the rest of Iraq.
June 2014 – Nephew, Nechirvan Barzani, is appointed Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s cabinet.
June 27, 2014 – Announces that the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and other disputed areas in Northern Iraq, are henceforth part of the Kurdish autonomous region, after the Iraqi central government fails to hold a long-awaited referendum.
December 11, 2016 – US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter makes a surprise visit to a military airfield near Mosul to discuss the next steps in the fight against ISIS with Barzani and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi.
September 25, 2017 – Iraqi Kurds cast their vote in a controversial referendum to achieve independence from Iraq. Barzani was the key orchestrator in the quest for the complete Kurdish autonomy. The referendum fails.
October 29, 2017 – Barzani’s office announces that he will step down as president as of November 1. This comes after Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of secession the previous month.
May 28, 2019 – Barzani’s nephew, Nechirvan Barzani, is elected president, making him the second president of the Kurdish Regional Government.
June 11, 2019 – Barzani’s son, Masrour Barzani, is elected Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government the day after his cousin is sworn in as president.