Massoud Barzani Fast Facts

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

Other Facts

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.


1961-1975 – The Kurds fight the Iraqi government in a quest for autonomy within Iraq.

1962 – Quits school to join the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters).

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.

2003 – Becomes a member of the Iraqi Governing Council following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

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 – Reelected 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 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.
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.