Who dares declare his wealth and money in Kurdistan region?
Kurdishaspect.com - By Kurdish journalist Sherzad Shaikhani
Translated from Arabic by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli
The promises of the rulers in the Middle East have always gone with the wind, and for me the two are equal: the totalitarian regime that has usurped power, or the one that is elected by the people. We the peoples of the region are among the most naive peoples and nations of the earth in our readiness to be deceived by our rulers' promises. A dictator's promises usually go with the wind, while the promises of an elected ruler evaporate with the end of the heat of the election campaign.
The Kurdistan region is not an exception in this. Its people are part of this Mediterranean East and their sons drink from its prevailing culture. Thus their state became like that of the peoples of the region being subjected to humiliation and insult at the hands of rulers. And the state of its rulers became the same as the oriental rulers in their despotism and autocracy.
Yes, it is a prerogative culture inherited and deeply-rooted in the souls by the action of air and water.
There is much talk in the Kurdistan region these days about reforms aiming to separate the party from the government, and there are already a number of leaders and officials who promote a reform project oriented in this direction and promise their people to get rid of the prevailing corruption in Kurdistan.
But I wrote an article in Kurdish and published it in an independent newspaper. I said "If the ruling parties were really serious about the project of the separation of party and state, this project will end with returning most of the government officials to the seats in primary education because they were school teachers, and plucking out tons of stars of gold and silver that glitter on the shoulders of many of the restaurant waiters and car fitters and repairers in the industrial zone, because the vast majority of these officers, who hold ranks such as Brigadier General and Colonel, cannot read or write but have obtained their military ranks solely because of their party affiliation.
Parallel to this, is a repeated boring talk about a national campaign to eliminate the financial and administrative corruption in the Kurdistan region.
And as our gentlemen officials are not bored by repeating their false promises to eliminate this scourge that is eating into the body of Kurdistan, I am also not getting bored of writing about it although some readers are getting narrow-minded about my exposition of the scandals of power in Kurdistan and the dissemination of its laundry on free platforms. Some of them suffer from reading fatigue about this scourge, which I think will lead to the end of the Kurdish entity which has been achieved by the blood of hundreds of thousands of my afflicted people.
Some days ago Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared that he would reveal his wealth and his money to the people, followed by his Kurdish deputy Dr. Barham Salih who confirmed that he would discover the accounts of his money, and I was waiting for this wonderful initiative and courage of the Iraqi officials to find an echo here in the Kurdistan region, but unfortunately I felt something like the silence of the graves from the Kurdish officials, if they were not upset or embarrassed by that initiative, especially since most of these officials have sunk in the administrative and financial corruption up to their chins.
Here in Kurdistan talk continues on a lot of occasions about the wealth of certain official, the funds that started pouring down on this or that party cadre, and getting enriched, thanks to government positions and party affiliation, has become a commonplace matter. The person who you could find needy yesterday wearing a pair of rubber shoes, he travels to Italy now for a mere purchase of a pair of shoes!.
And those who had escaped from Kurdistan to [European] countries to claim asylum in order to get the assistance of municipalities and social security, have returned today to establish major contracting companies generating millions for them, or are appointed to government posts that drown them in money.
All people here in Kurdistan, have become knowledgeable that this company is owned by that party or official and even some leaders and officials in some of the parties no longer feel embarrassed to disclose the names of companies they own and deal with government contracts, as recently the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan revealed the existence of a company called ‘Nokan’ belonging to the party, which is competing with other contractors for government contracts!
This was a courageous initiative by the leaders of the Patriotic Union [of Kurdistan] to declare the existence of a company owned by them, but in spite of this what is hidden is much greater!
I was overwhelmed by a thought these days to ask a senior official in Kurdistan, in turn, to initiate the disclosure of his wealth, especially I knew the man to be honest and his hands are white in relation to stealing people’s money. I tried to persuade him to take this initiative as a model for others. I really wanted by doing so to embarrass the gangs of corruption in Kurdistan so that they too would disclose their enormous wealth, even though I am still firmly convinced that none of them will dare to reveal his full accounts, as is done by some of the leaders and the heads and officials of other countries of the world. But still I wished to establish this condition and put it in the framework of a law so that it would benefit our future generations, and prevent the extension of this phenomenon to the future. But as soon as I heard from him that he wanted to have time and chance to think about it I ascertained that there are limits and considerations bigger than him that prevent him from going ahead with that initiative, and I accepted his excuses because he is in anyway, also part of that administration and leadership and a man cannot achieve everything he wishes.
A year ago, there was a talk of forming an integrity commission in Kurdistan, and I was at the time and still fully convinced of the lack of seriousness of the intentions of the leaders of the region to form such a body and give it the necessary powers to end the state of corruption in Kurdistan, for one reason which is that, as long as the Government of the Region do not publish their accounts in terms of annual income and expenditure as is the case in most countries of the civilized world, how can we believe such promises? These promises have not materialized so far and the current government is moving to the end of its mandate with the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Years ago, I announced a relentless fight against all aspects of corruption in Kurdistan, to the extent that I have put my neck against the sword in defiance. But today I reviewed my position and felt that I need to compromise my principles and be satisfied with quarter solutions. Thus I announce from the rostrum of Elaph expressly that I accept from now on that any government official here in Kurdistan would loot three-quarters of the budget funds allocated to him provided that he would be prepare to allocate the remaining quarter for the projects that will serve the people and addresses part of their living and services’ crises.
Isn’t this an attractive deal, dear gentlemen?
Elaph, 23 March 2009
Posted on Elaph on 23 March 2003 [www.elaph.com]