April 25, 2011

Peshmarge Minister gives green light to shoot as PUK extreme elements take charge - By Shwan Zulal

sporadic protests breaks out in most places in Kurdistan, high schools, universities and colleges. But the authorities very quickly respond to it and clamp down hard. A large force have been drafted to many towns and cities across Kurdistan and the security forces have numbers in their sides. Reports of clashes between the protesters and security forces this afternoon in Kalar, lvinpress.

Kurdistan Peshmarge  minster(Defence Minister), Shekh Jaffer, has told Hawlati newspaper in an interview that his “forces have orders to shoot trouble makers”. He added that Peshmerga forces would stay in Slemani and other towns and cities as long as they are needed”. The minister also threatens the opposition by saying that “the opposition have to understand and need to make their minds up whether they are adopting a dialogue and brother hood or opt to have a fight.” Furthermore; he has told the paper that his forces have heavy weapons because what Gorran and Komal (opposition parties) have been dong amount to a coup.

It is not clear what exactly the minister means by troublemakers, because the protests have always been peaceful  apart from occasional stone throwing. If he mean the people who have been involved in stand offs, the minister is making a very dangerous statement saying that if anyone confront his troops they will get shot. While he is saying his troops are ready to shoot illegal protesters, protests have been baned by hi government and all protests would be illegal.

The current state of emergency can last as long as it takes as the minster indicates and the consequences is not clear. Opposition and other civil institutions have been calling to an end to the military siege in the Kurdistan and asked the unconditional withdrawal of all the troops. It is also  been reported by Rudaw that the opposition demands that an end to the current hostility before they enter into dialogue.

The siege may have an effect for now but it is almost certain that it could not last because a large section of the Kurdish society disagree with what they incumbent  done. Barzani and Talabani have chosen to force themselves on people rather than win their trust, and majority of Kurdish people would not accept that fact.

PUK and KDP  argue that they have been elected and they have the legitimacy to rule Kurdistan. Despite irregularities in the last Kurdish election they have a point as they are “democratically” elected. Nevertheless, the election part of it may sound legitimate but the fact is that Kurdish Regional government and parliament have very little influence on the big decisions in Kurdistan and all such matters are agreed in dark rooms between the two parties. Therefore KRG have no such legitimacy as the leaders of both parties are claiming.

The protesters argue that the Kurdish government should go because it is toothless and although they have been elected, they have very little power and a slave to partisan politics. The recent events have highlighted the fact that the PM, Barham Salih have not been able to challenge Barzani and Talabni’s Authority.

Late in march the PM responded to the protesters demands and his letter addressing the demands sounded like a wish list and aspirations rather than a commitment to change. Sailh has even send a letter to Talabni last week asking him to consider the future of the party. He told PUK leader that if by  his resigning and dissolving government, the current crises would end he will be willing to go. But once again the letter from the PM was very awkward and lacked any firm commitments as he remains sitting on the fence.  

Kurdish people had high hopes for KRG and everyone was supporting it but due to partisan politics and family business interests, it failed to deliver. When it came to big decision and transparency, the reforms did not materialise and public grew angrier.

In February this all came to head and protest took place inspired by the middle-east protest demanding democracy and freedom. The response from the first confrontation between the protesters and authorities turned ugly and KDP security forces shot at protesters . From then on the whole event escalated. KDP, lead by Barzani family soon took control of the situation in Erbil and their stronghold areas by sheer force as any descent and protest attempts were brutally suppressed.

Meanwhile PUK had a softly approach due to internal disagreement as to what to do and how to react. The moderate wing of the party were calling for reforms and dialogue with protesters and the more extreme wing wanting to use force to disperse protests.

Since the beginning of last week it has become clear that the more extreme element within PUK have won and ever since  a large force has attacked protesters and quelled any attempt of protest by force. 

Kurdish public does not know what to make of it all, as many still cannot believe that Peshmarge forces, a name regarded by many as sacred, would take part in such oppressive clampdown and be privy to torturing peaceful Kurdish protesters.

The future looks rather grim after so much optimism when the protest started as people in Kurdistan were expecting a change in the past practises. Kurdish people’s hopes have been dashed once  again and this time by a group of Kurdish leaders who are not willing to give up power and believe that Kurdish people owes them.


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