Reform in Kurdistan: We and them-What are the reasons for our disagreements?

Kurdishaspect.com - By Nawshirwan Mustafa

Translated by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli

The following are the translations of three articles entitled "We and Them" by former PUK deputy leader Nawshirwan Mustafa published in his daily paper Rozhnama in September 2008.

(1)    We and them: What are the causes of our disputes?”

When some of those who talk to the media or write in the newspapers address the subject of ‘disputes’ – the disagreements between US: ‘those who criticize power’, and THEM: ‘those who support power’, say that:

·    The disputes do not have an ideological basis but they are all about personal issues.

·    The disputes are not about a political project but they are over money and power.

These words are used to undermine the political and ideological content of the disagreements and insult the political struggle that has started between the political power and the opposition.

It is clear that political opposition in Kurdistan has not yet taken the form of an organised force with its own political, economical, social and service-delivery programme that can be an alternative to the present government and parties. But anyone who has been observing the political direction of the last few years and have read our articles and statements in the media or heard them, they realise that our disagreements with the parties and political power are not about personal issues but about the manner the country is managed.

·    WE want to remove the interference of political parties- their bureaus, centres and committees in the daily affairs of the government, in the universities, courts and organisations of civil society. THEY want to reinforce the interference of their parties and tighten their control over all aspects of the daily life of people.

·    WE want to ensure justice in the distribution of the wealth of the country and in the payment of salaries and allocation of land and property and jobs. THEY want to use the wealth of the country, jobs and businesses for their own interests and for making people powerless and dependant.

·    WE want to ensure that there is transparency in the financial, commercial, economical, and political affairs of the government. THEY want to keep these affairs in darkness and [prevent people] from knowing them.

Here I ask two questions and give the choice to the reader to answer them:

First: Can there be a clearer political project than this and be expressed in clearer words?

Second: Are our disputes really over personal issues or over philosophy and system of government?

(2):  "We and them: our disputes about the Region’s budget.”

According to the UN’s resolution no 86 in relation to the Oil for Food programme in the time of the Ba’th regime, the share of [Kurdistan] region from the oil revenues for humanitarian purposes was 13 per cent.  After the fall of the regime, in the time of the provisional administration of the Governing Council, [the US Provisional Administrator in Iraq] Paul Bremer increased this ratio to 17 per cent in response to Kurdish demands.

1.       From 1st July 2007 to 31st December 2007 the two administrations of [Kurdistan Democratic Party’s) Arbil and [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s] Sulaymaniyah together received the amount of 567 million dollars as it is illustrated in this table:

Table 1: Kurdistan Region’s budget July -December 2007

  • Sulaymaniyah administration:    261 million dollars
  • Arbil administration 306 million dollars
  • Total 567


2.       From 2004 to 2008 from the budget [central government revenues] allocated for the Region, 54 per cent was allocated for Arbil administration and 46 per cent for Sulaymaniyah administration as it is illustrated in the table below:

Table 2: Share of Kurdistan Region from over all Iraqi budget 2004-2006
 

YearTotal Iraqi revenues in billion dinars    Total money allocated to
    Kurdistan Region in billion
    dollars

2004 20,145 2, 797 Two trillions and seven
   hundred ninety seven billion
   dinars

2005 35,981          3,749 Three trillions and seven
   hundred and forty nine dinars

200650, 963          4, 273 Four trillions and two
   hundred and seventy three
   dinars

200751,727  5.982 Five trillions



200860,1926,580 Six trillions and five
  hundred and eighty billion dinars

Complementary budget 2008 (the addition has not arrived yet)
86,446
9,910 Nine trillions and nine hundred and ten billion dinars

Notes on Table (2):
1.       This amount of money [for Kurdistan region] is about 23 billion in American dollars.
2.       This amount represents only the share of the region from Iraq’s revenues
3.       In addition, the region has its own income, plus the money left from oil-for-food programme which was more than one billion and 250 million dollars

From 2004 to 2007 the balance of political power in Iraq was in Kurds’ advantage. The Kurds were strong. Arab groups of Iraq had not reorganized themselves. Therefore, the share of the region from the Iraqi budget could be agreed in the Iraqi parliament without much ado. In 2008, the balance of power in Iraq between the Kurds and Arabs, both Shias and Sunnis, was about to tilt in the advantage of the Arabs.  That is why during the debating of the budget in the Iraqi House of Representatives, some Arab groups demanded the reduction of the share of the region to 14 per cent on the basis that, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Planning in Baghdad, the population of the region is less than 14 per cent of the total population of Iraq.

Kurdistan Alliance block in Iraqi House of Representatives have, during their time in Baghdad, twice threatened to withdraw from the Iraqi government. Both times the dispute was over money, not a political issue: the first time when the House wanted to reduce the salary and allowances of the President [who is, now, a Kurd]; the second time when the House wanted to reduce the 17 per cent share of Kurdistan region.

Both times, for some political reasons, the Arabs gave up their demands and gave in to the Kurdish demands. This year when the balance of power inside the House has changed to benefit the Arabs, it is possible that the Kurdish position would no longer be viable.

The budget (revenues) of the region is public finances, nation’s wealth, people’s money.  OUR disagreements with THEM over the budget are about the following issues:

·         WE want people to know HOW this budget [from Baghdad] and other incomes of the region have been spent: where have they gone, for whom have they been spent, when and in which way they have been used. THEY want to hide the facts in darkness and prevent people from knowing about them.

·         WE want to know why instead of using this huge budget for building the infrastructure of Kurdistan and turning it into a basis for self-sufficiency, it has become a factor for increasing the region’s dependency on Baghdad especially for the basic necessities of life such as salaries, food, fuel, electricity and medicine. THEY use these matters [dependency on Baghdad] to scare people and justify increasing political sell-outs to Baghdad and America.

·         WE want people to known how many billions of dollars the political parties take away for themselves from the region’s budget. THEY use this money to enslave their cadres, to rob their employees of their freedoms, and to distort the so-called democratic organisations.

·         In this situation, doesn’t an ordinary citizen have right to say: What is there in it for me whether the region’s budget is 17 per cent, 14 per cent, or less or more?

Here, I would like to ask two questions and give the choice to the reader to answer them:

·         First: Is there a more legal and clearer demand than this?

·         Second: Are our disagreements caused by personal matters or because we want transparency in the finances, income and expenditure of the region?

(3)  “We and them: our disputes about injustice in payment of salaries and wages.”

The source of citizens’ living income, in any country, comes either from the private sector or from the public sector. Those who work in the private sector: from the farmers and cattle-breeders of the agricultural sector to owners of big companies in areas of commerce, industry and banking, are free to choose the way they make money and distribute their income to their partners and employees. But even for these the state has established regulations and legal restrictions in order not to allow these businesses to exploit their workers the way they like. Such restrictions include: disclosure of the source of the capital and income, progressive taxation, deciding minimum wage per hour, etc

Those who work in the public sector include all the officials and employees who work in government offices and institutions. Their salaries do not come from the free market and the profit of commercial companies. It comes from the public budget which belongs to all people. If a capitalist businessman is free to make discrimination by enriching the first-rank employees of his company and impoverishing the workers in his projects, the government is by no means free to create class discrimination between his employees and officials, the way it is practiced in Kurdistan now.  In all the countries where the government respects the dignity of the citizens, the state constantly researches the income of the families and it works to change the rate of inflation, taxation and rent and the government provides social security, unemployment benefit, state pensions, health service, etc 

What could be the difference between the basic needs of a family of five of a Minister and a family of five of a poor employee? Why should there be such a big difference between their salaries that the distance between them increases month after month, while the source of income of both of them is the same: It is Public Finances and not Free Market?!

·    WE want people to know on what basis and according to which principles of justice, a first rank government official receives a monthly salary about 10 million dinars while the salary of a government employee of tenth rank, does not exceed 100,000 dinars [about 85 dollars] but in the  wealthiest countries of the world this difference does not exceed 10:1?  THEY want to keep these figures wrapped up in darkness.

·    WE want to have the salaries of lower-rank employees increased to a level that meets the basic needs of life for a family in Kurdistan region, to reduce the excessively high salaries and allowances and privileges, and instead increase the wages and salaries of the lower staff of employees in government offices. THEY want to make the salaries of high-ranking officials even higher and increase their allowances and privileges while keeping the salaries and wages of ordinary employees at the same low level.

·    WE want to have the salary system as a whole be reviewed and reassessed and to turn it into a pillar for achieving social peace. THEY want to use salaries and wages as instruments to make poor people submissive and tame the government officials.

Here I ask two questions and let the reader be free to answer them:

First: Who are those people who fight for money and power?

Second: Are our disagreements with THEM based on personal matters or are they over the issue of social justice?

Appendix to Part II: Planning Council

In 1991, just like now, the talk was about cleaning up and reform. As part of this process, setting up a number of institutions was suggested, among them a council for planning. On 12 August 1999, in the meeting of the political bureau of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a series of reforms were decided. It was decided to set up a ‘council for planning’. With the change of the second [PUK cabinet in Sulaymaniyah] and the appointment of Dr Barham Salih as the head of the third cabinet it was agreed to put this new body (planning council) into action. The core of the planning council was decided to be some ministers and some experts.

In July 1999, with the help of some experts and after consultation with some specialists, I devised a project for the tasks of that council. After the council was established, I presented my project to them. Because in this country, there is no accountability, I still do not know why this council failed to do any work and I do not know what the destiny of the project was.

Below is the full text of the project.

Planning Council (PC)

The strategy of the planning council is to establish the infrastructure of Kurdistan in areas of water, electricity, housing, transport, food, fuel, education, health, and internal and external security.

The framework of its work must be geared towards achieving the following objectives:

First: To estimate the population growth in Kurdistan from now and over the next ten years along with their needs and make plans to meet these needs.

Second: To build the infrastructure of Kurdistan independently so that it can survive and prosper without [depending on] Iraq.

Third: The projects to be dispersed in different areas and non-centralised so that Iraq would not be able to destroy them if wanted. For example, if the project of Sulaymaniyah water depends only on the pipes coming for the Dukan lake, the Iraqi government could destroy them anytime it wanted by air attacks and thus deprive Sulaymaniyah from drinking water.  But if some wells were dug in every sub-district in Sulaymaniyah, and in each sub-district the water is stored in tankers and then redistributed, and at the same time the old wells were cleaned up and supplied with water from some water sources such as Kaneskan, Chaqchaq, Srachinar and Saray Subhan Agha, via earth-buried pipes, then the drinking water in Sulaymaniyah would have some alternative sources and the Iraqi government would not be able to destroy them easily.

Fourth: To strengthen the private sector and the intervention of government in commercial affairs should aim at strengthening the private sector.

Fifth: To make taxes, customs and rent the main sources of government income.

Sixth: To reorganise the schools, institutes and universities in line with the needs of this strategy.

Below I present my opinion about some pillars of the infrastructure of Kurdistan:

1.    Water

1.1   To estimate the annual need for drinking water and domestic use (in litres or cubic litres.)

1.2   To estimate the annual need for water for agriculture and industry (in litres or cubic litres.)

Current water sources

1.3   Over-ground water

1.3.1                      Water-springs

1.3.2                      Wells

1.3.3                      Rivers

Those whose sources are in Iraqi Kurdistan

Those whose sources are outside Iraqi Kurdistan

1.3.4                      Lakes and rainwater

1.4                           Underground water: Artificial wells

1.5                           Reorganisation of agricultural irrigation network

1.5.1                      Setting up new water tributaries

1.5.2                      Building new water lakes for collection of rainwater and stream water such as those of Chaqchaq, Basara, Kawlos, Tabin, Awaspi, Dolakoke, Mawat, etc

1.5.3                      Digging artificial wells

1.5.4                      Using pipes for transferring irrigation water for agriculture

1.5.5                      Introducing the method of spray irrigation

1.6         Reorganisation of sources of drinking water

1.6.1              To provide water to every village separately (water-spring, natural wells, rivulet, artificial wells)

1.6.2              To provide water to every city and town separately and to provide water to sub-districts in every city and town separately (from water-spring, natural wells, rivulet, artificial wells)

1.7      To estimate the number of skilled workers needed both technicians and engineers.

2. Electricity

2.1                  To estimate the energy needed for domestic use

2.2                  To estimate the energy needed for factories and public places

2.3   Sources of electricity

2.3.1              Hydroelectric: From Dukan and Darbandikhan, protection of their installations and rational use of their water resources

2.4     Re-organisation of hydroelectric network

2.4.1              Building new power stations

2.4.2              Setting up turbines in the villages which had water mills before.

2.4.3              Putting turbines in the larger water streams such as Zalm water source.

2.4.4              Putting turbines in the newly-made lakes

2.5   Reorganisation of hot power supply

2.5.1              Providing large generators to each city according to their size and need

2.5.2              Providing generators to factories according to their size and need

2.5.3              Providing each town and village with generators according to their size and need

3.   Food

3.1  Local production

3.1.1              To estimate the present and next ten years’ need of Kurdistan for wheat (in tons)

3.1.2              To estimate the present and next ten years’ need of Kurdistan for rice (in tons)

3.1.3              To estimate the annual need of Kurdistan for potatoes

3.1.3              To estimate the annual need of Kurdistan for meat

3.1.4              To estimate annual need of Kurdistan for exported food (those that cannot be produced locally) such as sugar and tea leaves

3.3 To identify needs for storages, depots, cooler rooms, etc

3.4 To estimate the area of lands needed for the cultivation of wheat, rice, potato, and pasturage.

3.5 To estimate amount of water supply needed for such production.

3.6 To make available the number of tractors, combines, pumps, generators and other necessary equipment.

3.7 To estimate amount of fertiliser needed.

3.8 To estimate the number of agricultural technicians and engineers [needed]

4. Reconstruction

4.1 Countryside

To make available the following services to any village with a population of 100 households or more:

4.1.1 Drinking water depending on its own local resources

4.1.2 Sewage

4.1.3 Electricity (depending on local water sources if not via generator)

4.1.4 School

4.1.5 Health centres and public baths

4.1.6 Agricultural centre, vet, and stables outside residential areas

4.1.7 Postage service

4.1.8 Mosque

4.1.9 Accommodation for employees

4.1.10 Building roads to connect the village to the centre of the area

4.2 Re-settlement of the people displaced by the regime

4.2.1              The displaced people are now scattered in areas far from one another and are isolated. As a result of continuous deportations and displacement their numbers are increasing.

4.2.2              Because they have been displaced from their homes and land, they live a miserable life in poverty. Because of unemployment, poverty and homelessness they are suffering from various acute social problems. In order to save them from this hard life and turn them into productive useful force and become the protective belt of the security of Kurdistan region, I propose the following project for their resettlement.

4.2.3              Along with the line of contact [borderline with Government-controlled areas] from Taqtaq to Kifri, to build a number of villages for them {see appendix 1).

4.2.4              Some of these villages have been reconstructed but they are small and without services. They need to be developed and helped to grow and to build new villages in the distances between them.

4.2.5              To dig some artificial wells for each village.

4.2.6              To have 100-200 families settle in each village according to the size of the area and its available agricultural land.

4.2.7              To meet the following needs for each family in the new settlements:

                       1. a house

                       2. a plot of agricultural land

                       3. a piece of weapon

                       4. some financial support

4.2.8              To build the following service centres in each village:

                       1. drinking water, sanitation and public bath

                       2. agricultural irrigation project

                       3. power supply line or making a generator available

                       4. primary school building

                       5. health centre

                       6. post service office

                       7. agricultural centre

                       8. veterinary centre and stables outside the village

                       9. a mosque

4.2.9      This cluster of villages in addition to providing shelter to the displaced people, bringing them together and making them a protective belt for Kurdistan, they will also make them committed to the idea of liberating their homeland and monitor the changes and developments that will take place in their areas.

4.2.10    The lands of these areas are mostly liberated and are under the control of PUK. Some of the land is state-owned and some are privately-owned by the population of the area and can be used after providing compensation to the land-owners.

Notes:

·    The resettlement of the displaced people, means those who are unemployed now and do not have a source of income.

·    Those who are employed and can manage, should not be included in resettlement now.

·    The tribes of Saleyi, Shwan, Shekh Bzeni, Hamawand, Jabari, Qara Hasan, Dawuda, Kil, Zand... to be returned to their own areas. If their area is occupied [by Iraqi forces], they should be settled temporarily in the land of other tribes.

·    If this project is incorporated into resolution 986, it must be presented in the framework of the humanitarian solution of the issue of the displaced people and avoid the mentioning of strategic, military and administrative considerations.

4.3  Cities

4.3.1      Building new districts in the cities which will include these projects: housing, sewage, drinking water, electricity, telephone service, parks, streets

4.3.2      Building Offices complex

4.3.4      Building large and small bridges (as needed)

4.3.4      Building an extensive network of roads

5. Fuel

5.1          To estimate the annual needs of the population of Kurdistan for petrol, gas, and gasoline

5.2          To develop [oil wells] of Shiwashok

5.3          To dig new oil wells

5.4          Manufacturing storage tanks for reservation of petrol, gas and gasoline

5.5          Planning the distribution of gas in big cities through pipelines

Appendix:

Project for the return and resettlement of the displaced people

1.    The displaced people from Kirkuk are living now in areas far from each other. As a result of continued displacement, their numbers are increasing. According to available census up to May 1999, the number of displaced families has reached 60816 families and together they are 88441 people as it has been illustrated in the appendix list.

2.    Because they have been uprooted from their won lands and homes, they have a miserable life and because of unemployment, poverty and homelessness they are suffering from various serious social problems. In order to save them from this hard life and turn them into productive useful force and become the protective belt of the security of Kurdistan region, I propose the following project for their resettlement.

3.    To build a number of villages for them along contact/border line from Taqtaq to Kifri in the following areas:

3.1  Shwan area: Turka, Hassan Qabagh, Turkomanbakh, Kareza, Kani qura, Golmkawa, Yakhtakhan, Ali Mikhael, Saydan, Ibrahim Agha, Darbasar, Klawqut, Rahimaquta, Pirijan, Timar, Gurgan.

3.2  Shekh Bzeni area: Kani Rash, Marzikha, A’mdun, Palkna, Darmnawa, Kawlaur, Turki, Jigila, Qaranaw

3.3  Qadirkaram area: Nure, Dartu, Talaban, Wasta Khdir, Qaytawan, Garawi, Chami Rosatm Agha, Ibrahim Ghulam.

3.4  Kifri area: Goban, Homarbl, Balaga, Duraji, Plakana, Shorawa, Qala, Imam Muhammad, Gomayi, Milnasr, Chaladwana.

3.5  Kalar area: Grdagozina, Chalsew, Dayodmala, Sayidhussain, Gakul.

3.6  Khanaqin area:  Wali Agha, Banzamin, Hawshkur.

3.7  Some of these villages have been reconstructed but they are small and without services. They need to be developed and build new villages in the gaps between them.

4.    To dig some artificial wells for each village.

5.    To have 100-200 families settled in each village according to the size of the area and its available agricultural land.

6.    To meet the following needs for each family in the new settlements:

6.1. a house

6.2 a plot of agricultural land

6.3 a piece of weapon

6.4 some financial aid

7.       To establish the following services in each village:

                       7.1. drinking water, sanitation and public bath

                       7.2. agricultural irrigation project

                       7.3. power supply line or making a generator available

                       7.4. primary school building

                       7.5. health centre

                       7.6. post service office

                       7.7. agricultural centre

                       7.8. veterinary centre and stables outside the village

                       7.9. a mosque

8. This cluster of villages in addition to bringing the displaced people of Kirkuk together and making them a protective belt for Kurdistan, they will also make them look forward always to  liberating their homeland and follow up the changes and developments in their areas.

9. The lands of these areas are mostly liberated and are under the control of PUK. Some of the lands are state-owned and some are privately-owned by the population of the area and can be used and give compensation to the land-owners.

10. The displaced people means the  farmers of the villages around Kirkuk who are unemployed now and do not have a source of income.

10.01.1  Those who are employed and can manage their lives now, should not be included in resettlement for the time being.

10.01.2  The tribes of Saleyi, Shwan, Shekh Bzeni, Hamawand, Jabari, Qara Hasan, Dawuda, Kil, Zand... to be returned to their own areas. If their area is occupied [by Iraqi forces],  they should be settled temporarily in the land of other tribes.

11.  If this project is presented as part of the UN resolution 986, it must be presented in the framework of a humanitarian solution for the plight of the displaced people and avoid the mentioning of strategic, military and administrative considerations.






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