Kurdistan in the Age of Globalisation
Kurdishaspect.com - By Mufid Abdulla
This article is in response to Omar Sheikhmous’s article “Future Threats and Dangers Facing Iraqi Kurdistan Region in Today’s Globalised World” published on www.kurdishaspect.com on 18th April 2009.
At the end of the 1990s, the world seemed to be facing paradigm shifts. Anxiety and disorientation were one result, but there was also a feeling of a sense of opportunity and hope. The South of Kurdistan has always been responsive to global changes. We have felt the emergence of a global order in the trends of economics and politics and we have successfully identified and underlined forces behind all these changes. Following a century of global wars, nearly 50 years of cold war, the collapse of communism and the Balkan war, the world is now on the cusp of new ideological and economic paradigms. Every country in the world is being asked to fit into the same model. Ironically, the market economy has already been established as the main force to run the liberal economy. The computer and digital highway represent the basis for a new industrial revolution to match the new world symbol.
My question is this, where does Kurdistan now fit into the emerging global order and what is its agenda before the global world in the 21st century? Every land has its tragedies. Europe’s has been those of the class system and nation state; America’s race and Latin America’s, politics. But then, there is no growing, no learning without pain and failure. It is therefore not surprising, but at the same time, somewhat intriguing, that a region such as Kurdistan should have remained on the margins of third world politics because we have not yet broken that rank.
As a result, Kurdistan’s transformation is nothing short of an ideological revolution. And yet, its democratic roots are still shallow. In some cases new democracies have initiated only the rudiments of democratic institutions. Elected executives lack effective control over the military. Legislatures are weak and poorly financed. The legal system lacks the training, resources and authority to protect human rights and the due process of law. What is also missing are the cultural and civic infrastructures of democracy and an independent, pluralist, mass media. More importantly, Kurdish societies remain heavily bifurcated and characterised by a European, wealthy elite in policy-making positions on the one hand and a non-European, poorly marginalised population on the other. However, despite all of these problems, Kurdistan has still experienced positive effects from globalisation. Opportunities have arisen for us such as the recent visit of the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas to the Kurdish capital Erbil. Globalisation has opened the eyes of the world to the Kurdish cause through modernised technology transmitting news through radio, Internet and digital television across the world.
Omar Sheikhmous has not enriched his understanding regarding the subject of globalisation and despite the title of his article which implies a deep understanding and definition of this term; this is not reflected in his article. He has failed to grasp the basic principals of modern politics and its workings and has listed several points regarding the face of internal and external threats to the KRG and their future economy. Furthermore, he has advised and asked the KRG to implement and observe certain situations such as: support for local agriculture, the advocating of self reliance, the curbing of corruption and nepotism, and the enhancement of human rights and democratic freedom.
The whole purpose of this article is that, as illustrated in point 10, he has involved himself with the issue of the sovereignty of Kurdistan and has made the same mistake as followers like Jalal Talabani did in recent days telling his beloved Kurdish nation that the Independent Kurdish state is a ‘dreaming poet’! Omar Sheikhmous is not far behind him and advocates exactly the same school of thought as his leaders. Omar Sheikhmous continues by saying “Iraqi Kurdistan Region is a land–locked area with no access to international waterways. Its air and land ways go through neighbouring countries that are not specifically friendly towards it...” and goes on to state that “the political leaderships in Iraqi Kurdistan will have to work hard in moderating their people’s inflated and maximalist demands for independence and separation from Iraq”. Here, the writer is basically telling us to be subordinate for all of our lives to the Iraqi state.
I would like to remind Omar Sheikhmous, about the whole idea of building a “safe haven” in the south of Kurdistan in 1991 after the Gulf War. This idea of creating a small state is ideal as long as the time and effort is made to nourish and expand it. If we consider the autobiography of former British Prime Minister John Major at that time, John Major admitted that with regards to Saddam, “Genocide was in the man’s mind” (1). John Major was the architect of protecting Kurds and building a defector state with France and others to protect the Kurds from genocide. These leaders are global law makers and know what they doing. They are also aware of the fact that according to international law, if any nation suffers a genocidal war they have the right to declare independence. John Major continues in his autobiography, “On 21 March I was sufficiently concerned at the plight of the Kurds to raise it myself at Cabinet. The Kurds should not be sacrificed. The essence of our plan was simple, although its implementation was less so. It was to mark out safe areas–safe havens, as they became known, in which the Kurds would be protected from attack and could be fed and housed in safety”. (2) It is evident that the support of France, Germany and Luxembourg were the prime supporters of this idea. The US was not too keen on this idea despite what many people believe, which further proves my argument; in this case that the aim of waging a genocide war against Kurds was clear. John Major further continues, “Genocide was averted and literally tens of thousands of lives were saved”. (3) So, once more, the globalised world is not a threat, but contrarily should be seen as something to enhance and emulate the position of the Kurds internationally. The Kurdish state has been aborted, due to the policy of the Kurdish leaders at that time pursuing to negotiate with Saddam.(4) Omar Sheikhmous in his article point 10 states that with regards to the Kurdish leaders; “They should make it clear to their people that following such a path, would most probably, lead to war with the neighbouring countries and the central government in Iraq”. The writer does not need to tell the leaders this as this is the policy they are following at present. The main weakness of Omar Sheikhmous’s article is that it shows a lack of awareness of the post Cold War. The events of 1989-1992 ushered in not just a new era in international politics but, perhaps for the first time in history, a new international system without a hegemonic war. The domination of American politics is obvious everywhere. The world has gone through two trends; one is integration and the other is fragmentation. The definition of a nation state has merely relied on the eagerness of the voice of people. The creation of states has become so easy and straightforward to the extent that in 1989, there were nine states in communist Europe. In the same area now there are 27 states. Each has established a nation state. But each state is wrestling with the two challenges of economic and national crises (5). This new Kurdish generation has an even greater sense and flame of nationalism than ever before. But no longer is the nation state a symbol of expressing nationalism. For example, Jewish people have scattered all over the world despite the nation state in Israel. Likewise, the Pakistani and Turkish nations have all integrated all over the world despite the nation state. Kurdish people have sacrificed a lot and shed a lot of blood for the defector state which we have today. The Kurds are a very peaceful nation and have not attacked anybody unless in self-defence. Without exaggeration, the Kurds in the south of Kurdistan are experiencing a safer and more peaceful life now than the citizens of Israel. We might not want the independence right now and instead want to prioritise on developing our infrastructure. How many billions of dollars has Israel spent during the 26 days of the war on Gaza? Despite all the security, the lives of Kurdish people in the south of Kurdistan are safer than ever before. There is no growing, no learning without pain and failure. The Turks and Iranians are aware of the fact that they cannot defeat the Kurds by military force and the solution has to be political for the Kurds in their parts of these respective countries. (6)
Omar Sheikhmous’s idea of Kurdistan as a land-locked area with no access to international waterways is not correct and is in fact baseless. The reason is, we do not have a state yet and international factors and the infrastructures of the political leaders are still not capable enough to advocate the independent state. The political parties in the south of Kurdistan which are ruling the Kurdistan Regional Government are not serving and acting for their nation. Otherwise, we would not have seen in 2005 98% of Kurdish people voting for separation from Iraq. Therefore, it is evident that the nation is eager to have a state but the leaders are not prepared to take on the fight.
1.John Major, (1999), ‘The Biography’, Harper Collins Publishers, London. p.242
4Mufid Abdulla, (07/02/09) ‘South of Kurdistan, Autonomy or Independent?’, www.kurdishmedia.com.