Kurdistan Regional Government’s Achievements: Critical Analyses
Kurdishaspect.com - By Mufid Abdulla
This is my response to the article by Delovan Barwari.on this website. I will start by referring to his argument to defend the KRG, in which he states that all governments, even the most advanced democracies, have governmental deficiencies, and continues that “the KRG has had its share of shortcomings as well namely in corruptions and nepotism.”
Please let me give you one example of what we are heading towards. First of all, let us consider the example of a country like Nigeria. When the Nigerian nation gained independence in 1960, there was a hope that the country would be the most heavyweight in Africa. Not only is it the most populated area in Africa but is also blessed with abundant natural resources, particularly oil, from which the country has earned over $400 billion between 1979 and 2005. Despite this, Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries in the world. (1)
In Kurdistan, we have a corrupted man ruling a corrupted leading party and who is supposed to be leading the people. In Kurdistan, the corrupted leader has given himself power by putting himself as a leader of his party and a leader of the people for the last twenty years. In Kurdistan, not a single corrupted leader has been jailed or deprived from his post. Nobody, including no audit office or tax office has asked where this wealth is coming from. You might tell me there is no alternative leader to step up to the position. However, from the day the current leader leaves there is guaranteed to be many people coming forward.
Back to Kurdistan and the aforementioned article, you state that the KRG’s accomplishments, both politically and economically far outweigh its deficiencies. My response to this is that the KRG as a political and social system has not shaped the economic system and has failed to unite their people in this de-facto Kurdish state. Therefore, this political system can be assessed in two dimensions; firstly whether it is a system of collectivism as opposed to individualism and secondly we must question if it is democratic or totalitarian. However, these two dimensions have become interrelated. I can see the society we have created is one of individualism and tends towards totalitarian at the same time; the ruling parties do not view Kurdish society as an important factor. The rulers of Kurdistan are a bunch of people who have experienced and implemented an armed struggle and has nothing to do with the modern world and management. The two ruling parties, the KDP and PUK, have a larger share in running the KRG and in most cases are directed by those leaders. How can it then be possible for such a nation to be involved with changes in this society while they are incapable of all forces of innovation? They do not understand the action of managing modern Kurdish society as a whole.
I would like to go through the points for which you have called the KRG’s accomplishments over the years:
1. Security: The securities you have referred to which are in place in Kurdistan are not factors contributing in any positive way to the stability of Kurdistan. These might act as security for the people who have been protected by militia but not for the ordinary people. Of course if you compare Hawler to Mosul there will be no contrast. We should not forget that the society we have adopted in Kurdistan is far different from a society which has been ruled more complexly. This is not a stable society; the Iranian forces have been bombarding our borders for a long time without any intervention from the KRG, but if the opposition issues even a small statement this means the deterioration of the security of Kurdistan. The rights of women are still shaky and there is no evidence of the emancipation of women from male rule. In terms of the rights of journalism etc we have examples of several newspaper journalists who have been murdered and shot down by unknown forces. If the two ruling parties are unhappy about some groups and parties it appears that they can do anything they want to rectify this. For example on the 25th July 2009 the KDP attacked the Gorran Party’s office in Hawler during the election. People continue to be frightened and uncertain about what will happen next. We could do much better with our security and ameliorate the stability by starting with the addressing of the following issues;
a) Dissolving the militia groups by not giving them any budget. We must start working on moving the Kurdistan army away from any party affiliation so that it can become an army of the people.
b) The security apparatus of the two ruling parties: KDP intelligence services by (Parasten) PUK intelligence services (Ashaysh) could be dissolved into one strong, transparent force away from the domination of the two ruling parties so that they would not be able to terrorise their opponents.
c) An independent judicial system is far from reality to date. The whole judicial system is folly and void.
2. Education: Barwari’s article argues that by opening more universities this will in turn enhance the university system. Let me tell you that in 1970 in Nigeria almost 32 universities were set up, but most of the adults were illiterate. So, setting up so many universities does not help innovation or the building of our economy as self-reliant and does not help to build an independent Kurdistan. That is the reason I believe education in Kurdistan is one of the biggest failures. Encouraging Turkish universities to have bases in Kurdistan and to teach our children the Turkish language while our Kurdish dialect has not been united is absurd! How is the KRG planning to eradicate illiteracy in Kurdistan; what measures or data sources are in place? How can it be possible that party politics is overruling our universities?
The biggest problem starts right from the beginning of primary school in reception year; the teachers do not have adequate knowledge to give to this young generation due to the old system that is still in place. In universities the standards of lectures have declined over the last ten years and the standard language in universities is not clear, whether it be Kurdish or English. As an example, a person can gain a PhD without having knowledge in Arabic or English. Therefore, how can it be possible to have access to all new current research and periodicals all over the world?
3. Energy. As you stated in your past articles in 2009 regarding energy in Kurdistan as; “a black curse into a new political power”. Innovation in the generation and distribution of energy is not driven by developments in technology or politics alone. Instead it is the product of the interaction of emerging technological possibilities, political and societal pressures, economics, and decision-making and resource commitments by firms and behavioural changes on demand. What we have found in Kurdistan is oil but it has not created any miracles to our nation. Alan Greenspan’s conclusion is true: “how is it possible that a superabundance of natural resources, oil, gas, copper, iron ore, would not significantly add to a nation’s production and wealth?” (3)
The same is true for Kurdistan; if we ask what achievements oil has brought to Kurdistan these include unemployment (as you mentioned in your previous article; 50%); and the deadly inflation which has resulted from the money from oil, to an extreme of basically daylight robbery of the people. I have been observing the food index over the whole of Kurdistan for the last 7 years. I can conclude that the rate of inflation could be around 250% it is amazing how ordinary people can survive in such harsh conditions and is a major contributor to the production of an unproductive nation and its heavy dependence on handouts from party politics. The political environment does not adopt the zeal of hard work amongst the technocrat and innovative generation. Therefore, the two political parties are using the profits of oil for their own purposes; as the local newspapers have admitted with the fact that the two parties monthly have taken almost 36 million dollars from the budget for their party politics.
Oil and energy have not produced an independent Kurdish state; we are nowhere near it. Oil and gas are instead strengthening the power of feudalism and tribal power, as is the case of Massoud Barzani. I am not impressed by the heights of the buildings of Hawler and Sulaymani, I am in favour of enhancing the human capital of Kurdish citizens so that they can build their nation by themselves and not by their enemies such as Turkey, Iran, etc. The Kurdistan market is for Turkish and Iranian products and goods rather than homemade goods and services. The KRG is nothing other than the tool of neighbouring countries for the selling of their goods and services. We are not allowed to set-up our own factories and production services unless the KDP holds the position as a major shareholder in your company, I have evidence of this from several sources. The oil revenue may as well be drained unless it is invested in all segments of economic cycles.
Oil money is easy money and creates dictators and despots. There is no model of economy in Kurdistan to be practiced. Sorry; there is one model of the economy by Nichervan Barzani! As we know small businesses are the backbone of economy in any new developed country, which raises the question of why it is so impossible for small businesses to get any tangible gain in the political environment in Kurdistan.
4. Infrastructure development. You referred to your village Terwanish which has had refurbishments such as the roads despite it being in a remote location on the Iraq and Turkey border. I am afraid this has not been the case in Sulaymani over the last ten years. The council has tried to build several kilometres of road between Arbat and Sulaymaniah which up to now is yet to be finalised despite so many people having been killed in a car accident due to the poor road conditions. I must admit, projects like you have experienced must be approved by big figures inside the KDP. Of course the road to Salahadin and Permam has been tarmacked and the road between Talabani’s headquarters and Sulaymaniah is in good condition!
Finally I will go through the last two paragraphs very quickly as follows:
a) The demonstrations in Kurdistan are not a product of the Gorran Party but it could be said the Gorran Party are stirring it. The harsh economic condition of Kurdistan and the deadly inflation has pushed people to an uprising. The Gorran Party has influenced the hearts and minds of people in Kurdistan with their centre of strategic studies, which they have built over the last 4 years. Kurdistan will not be stable unless the two ruling parties relinquish monopoly in power. the only language the two ruling parties they understand is the power of guns and violence as we have seen in Sulaymani on 17th February 2011.The responsibilities of the security of Kurdistan lies in the hands of the KDP and PUK, they are only united in distributing the share of profits from oil and tax.
b) Over the last twenty years we have heard the same arguments as those we are making now and our experience is fragile and still too early to make major change. Kurdistan will be stronger with the participation of the mass of people. The major tool is in the hands of the two political parties, i.e. of election fraud, which will make them stay in power. I witnessed all kinds of commissions during my two visits to Kurdistan on 25th July 1999 and March 2010 when I visited both Sulaymaniah and Hawler; on both occasions I found evidence of fraud which was also revealed by foreign observers.
1. United Nations 2006 Human Development Index
2. Bessant, J. & Tidd J (2007) Innovation and Entrepreneurship, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, page 356
3. Greenspan, A, (2009) The Age of Turbulence, Adventures in a New World, page 257