Demonstrators gather in the streets in support of Kurdish president Masoud Barzani in Duhok, Iraq on Sunday. Image Credit: Reuters

Beirut: It is unclear his resignation on Sunday as president of the Kurdistan Regional Government was the final curtain for Massoud Barzani, an ardent Kurdish nationalist since the age of 16 who took up the mantle of his father, the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani, after his death in 1979.

Barzani’s family continues to play an outsized role in the region’s political hierarchy.

His nephew Nechirvan Barzani serves as the region’s prime minister, and his son Masrour heads its security apparatus.

And the suspension of the presidency, said Zaid Ali, author of “The Struggle for Iraq’s Future,” has created an impossible task for Kurdish lawmakers.

“Barzani is saying he doesn’t want the presidency to exist anymore, and to create a new constitutional arrangement in a few days — that’s actually a lot of work,” Ali said in a phone interview.

Though it could serve as a way to keep Barzani in power for an interim period, Ali continued, it could also lead to the fracturing of the Kurdish region along the fault lines of the two major Kurdish parties’ spheres of control.

“It won’t go smoothly, and it may lead to both sides stopping working with each other,” he said.

Already on Sunday night, Iraqi Kurdish political parties opposed to Barzani reported attacks on their offices in several cities overnight hours after Barzani announced his resignation.

The Movement for Change, Gorran, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said in separate statements several of their offices in the Duhok region, north of the Kurdish capital Erbil, were looted or burnt overnight.

No casualties were reported.

The semi-autonomous KRG in northern Iraq said it had ordered the local police forces, known as Asayish, to stop the attacks.

Armed protesters stormed parliament as it met on Sunday to approve his resignation.

Opposition MPs who had been barricaded inside managed to leave later, according to their parties.

Gorran and the PUK both support Kurdish self-determination but Gorran opposed the referendum, saying it was ill-timed. The PUK supported the vote half-heartedly.

In a televised speech announcing his plan to step down, Barzani said followers of rival PUK founder Jalal Talabani, who died in early October, had been guilty of “high treason” for handing over the oil city of Kirkuk to Iraqi forces without a fight two weeks ago.