Can the election eliminate the domination of the 2 leading parties? - By Mufid Abdulla

If words and actions are what defines our Kurdish leaders then the last week has given us the full measure of the KDP and PUK coalition and alliance in their responses and campaigning in the upcoming election on the 25th July 2009. The nature of the campaign and ferocity of the two leading Kurdish parties have not only surprised the public but also their friends. For example, we have seen evidence of Jalal Talabani who despite being older in age and perhaps not in the best state of health physically, has been travelling widely, conducting ongoing meetings, in an almost desperate and painful campaign, obviously in an attempt to restore the trust of the people. The KDP is only run at the moment by six main members because the four other politburos resigned in February 2009. The PUK anger and frustration is obvious and this is having the adverse effect of raising suspicion and dissatisfaction amongst the mass of the people. People are very unhappy and dislike the two main parties greatly for not doing their job properly and for the widespread corruption. The Kurdish public need political leadership, not ‘play politics’ for a few people.

If we go back and study the clips of all the opposition Kurdish leaders from socialist parties to the Islamic party, Toiler party and others, they have all stated that Kurdistan needs change, but our question is who is going to lead that change and how can it best be achieved?

In the south of Kurdistan, the party politics no longer object but belong to the enduring people. The 1991 uprising was achieved by the sparking of anger from the mass of the people rather than by political parties and we have now realised the essential need over the last so many years to do something, anything.

Jalal Talabani’s PUK is not only weak but has also lost a lot of grounds with his grassroots and leadership which we have seen for the last several years has been following the wrong strategy. Talabani’s leadership has resulted not in enhancing the PUK rank and leadership but instead has generally destroyed the structure of the party. For example, instead of negotiating and reaching an agreement with these openings within the party and leaving a space for reform and change, contrarily, what he has done is blocked all opportunities for negotiation and ignored all of his enemies within the party. Talabani’s actions are evidence of the wrong strategy. Let us remember the saying, ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’. The second man in the PUK has not only been ignored but has also had his ideas and projects abandoned which have claimed and asked for reform in all aspects inside the PUK for a long time.

There are several qualifications we can conclude form the above:

1.The PUK leadership, instead of taking the logical route to unite the party and bring back all the people who have been upset and left the party have not done so but instead have carried out a hidden strategic agreement with the KDP at the expense of their friends and alliances. This strategy has obviously caused the PUK many adverse problems and this, combined with the drastically reduced size of the party, means it is obvious to everybody that the PUK is no longer in charge of the Presidency, Parliament and the main key Ministers of Kurdistan. Talabani should have reached an agreement with Nawshirwan Mustafa long ago to bring him back and make him a beacon of a symbol for hope and change.

2.Nawshirwan Mustafa and ‘The Change Group’ have at last concluded that the only way out from the massive disaster inside the PUK is to work outside the PUK to challenge change and update Kurdish nationalism, hope and aspirations. That is the reason for Nawshirwan Mustafa’s hostility towards the leaders of the PUK, his reluctance to talk and negotiate with them and his independent participation in the upcoming election.

The future of the KDP and PUK is adrift. As a nation we should teach our politicians about work and action. ‘The Change Group’, which belongs to Nawshirwan Mustafa’s leadership, has advocated the policies and ideas of reform and the need to adjust the political stretcher in the south of Kurdistan. The Wusha Company, incorporated by Nawshirwan Mustafa, has become a symbol of the only hope and revolution in the south of Kurdistan to bring about change despite the very limited resources accessible to Nawshirwan Mustafa compared to his enemies.

The KDP and PUK are presently controlling almost all of the airwaves with ten satellites which are on air 24 hours a day compared with Nawshirwan Mustafa’s station KNN which is only on air for 6 hours. According to close friends of Nawshirwan Mustafa’s, they have confirmed to me that he is extremely confident and hopeful that he will win a lot of seats in the Kurdish election. Even if this does not happen, the main point is that he has sown the main seeds of revolution for change which will be growing and spreading day by day.

3.The KDP will not be comfortable with regards to all this progress over the last several months. Not only do they dislike Nawshirwan Mustafa but they are working to undermine and dismantle his and his group’s policies and objectives. The KDP is traditionally a tribal party, mainly run by the Barzani family. For the first time, a member of the KDP committee leadership, Jawhar Namiq, came out of that party several years ago and is now allied to Nawshirwan Mustafa for the upcoming election. So, the KDP are facing a crisis as well. We must all know that there are solid reasons for the way we are thinking and the need for a sustained recovery from corruption which we have to be realistic about, it will take a long time and will not happen overnight.

Finally, we are in a time where there are strong feelings of hope and anger by the Kurdish general public, feelings which we are actively using to promote change. If the mass of people win this election it will be the start of the rebuilding of our nation and country brick by brick.


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May 16, 2009
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