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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/25/13

Is Election in the KRG area of Iraq dividing Kurdish people further or not?

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By Alison Buckley and Hamma Mirwaisi


Some time in the early years of this century Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, sole prisoner of the Turkish government on the Island of Imrali off Istanbul, was working late into the evening on a composition for one of his now-famous writings. The midnight hour passed and at about one o'clock he heard a rustle outside the only window in his cell through which food and drink could be passed. Impressed to bring him a cup of coffee, a prison official offered the beverage through the outlet, at the same time indicating he wanted to speak to Ocalan. The writer dropped his work and responded to the caller through the grill.

'You are a real leader; it is obvious to us all here. You deserve some privileges,' the officer declared.

It was an "out of the blue' admission. Seizing the moment, Ocalan immediately replied.

'I'll drink half of this, only if you'll drink the other half,' he proposed.  

The episode was significant of the comradeship that Ocolan hoped would one day occur between himself and his Turkish brothers who shared the Kurds' land. So far it is still a dream, waylaid for most of this year by the Turkish Prime Minister's complacency regarding real progress on the post March 21 cease-fire reforms the Kurds require before they will lay down arms for good in Turkey.

Following this disappointment it is easy to understand Ocalan's and other PCDK officials' disgust and dismay at the alleged discovery of the burning of the ballot papers of those who had voted for the Kurdish Democratic Solutions Party in last Saturday's Kurdish Regional Government elections. All thirty-three PCDK candidates, one-third of whom were women, standing for nearly one-third of the Parliament's vacant seats, were informed they had registered too late for their scrutineers to be allocated places in the vote-counting process. It was a convenient move by their opponents, who had to do something to stave off the anticipated tide of support for the PCDK. None of the party's candidates were successful. The sure method of interference with the democratic process made certain of it.

This tragic result leaves the real and complete will of the Kurdish people unknown, and a section of it politically thwarted. In the absence of his stricken boss it also leaves the Gorran party's Nawshirwan Mustafa's tenuous control of the Sulaymaniyah region of Kurdistan, exposed to the animosity of his probable election co-conspirator Massoud Barzani. Mustafa's architecture of the PUK's policy was downplayed in the face of Talabani's father-in-law, Abraham Ahmed's 1963 opposition to Barzani, which divided Kurds into Bahdini Kurds under the Barzani family and Sorani Kurds under the Ahmed family of Sulaymaniyah.

In an effort to diffuse the enmity between these two tribes, Ocalan's third PCDK party entered the election to unite the Kurds, but alleged interference in the vote-counting procedure has put paid to that hope. It has also shored up divisions created by the Barzani family's closeness to Turkey and Israel and Nawshirwan Mustafa's friendship with the Shi'a governments of Iran and Iraq.

But in the post-bogus-election political climate, it is possible that the Barzani family will seek an understanding with Nawshirwan Mustafa so that they can sign what they call a strategic agreement for the Kurdish people's security.  In reality it would be an extension of the last few years' agreement between the two families to control Kurdistan's oil wealth.

Consequently the US, Israel, and the European oil partners of the two main Kurdish Autonomous Region's political parties are likely to apply firm pressure to both to get along so that they "profitably' manage Kurdistan's oil wealth. This time the main difference is the replacement of Jalal Talabani, who is either dead or in a state of unconsciousness, by Nawshirwan Mustafa. The profit goes to the same destinations -- the hands of these leaders and the companies, individuals and even nation-states that they do deals with in order to appropriate the wealth themselves or to those they regard as allies, friends, and business partners; that is, many others than the true owners, the Kurdish people. 

However, there may be other reasons why Ocalan's PCDK party failed to win the hearts and minds of Kurds in the KRG area of Iraq. Bribery has also been rife in Kurdish politics for generations. Barzani and Talabani have led the charge of the Kurdish people's betrayal of each other and their nation for financial gain. The PCDK must find a way to subvert this domination by giving Kurds something else besides money to improve their lives. They need hope, leadership, and a sacrificial example instead of outright, rampant greed and underdevelopment of public infrastructure and services. In the long term the people will see the benefits of these principles of government and the foolishness of swapping short-term monetary gain for transparent democracy, long-term investment in the development of the national wealth, and human rights.

On the other hand if the animosity between the Barzani and Talabani parties gets out of hand, yet another civil war could begin in the Middle East, while most international eyes are on Syria and Iran. If this happens, oil prices will be significantly affected.

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Hamma Mirwaisi was exposed to the oppression of Kurds while still a youth, as his education was frequently interrupted by Iraqi government harassment. Forbidden from entering university in 1968, he had little choice but to join the peshmerga (more...)

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