South of Kurdistan:The Political earthquake will change the political map Part IV
Kurdishaspect.com - By Mufid Abdulla
‘The Turning Point….’
The entire situation in the south of Kurdistan at present is pioneering. This is not only due to the work of one leader or other individuals, but rather from the accumulation of hard work from all the people striving towards democracy, including local Kurdish newspapers and all brave writers and journalists. The election day of the 25 July 2009 was the day for which we had waited for so many long years, the day of which the democratic struggle against two ruling parties had just begun. My main concerns as usual were focused on the fraud and rigging of the ballot boxes, not to mention the risk of violence and mayhem at the polls, as was the case in Hawler. I was excited and apprehensive. I wanted to demonstrate my solidarity with those who, for so long, had been disenfranchised. It was a poignant moment for democratic forces, including Gorran (The Change Movement), to see the changes happening in the towns and countryside of Kurdistan. Under the Kurdistan Regional Government, the two ruling parties the KDP and PUK had gained a monopolised political power, which gave it access to all their followers by vicious and immoral means. Hawler was quiet on the days I had regular contact with Gorran leaders and some of the aides of KRG Prime Minister Nigeravan Barzani.
In Sulaymaniah the majority of people turned out to register their vote. In Hawler less people voted due to the fear of being threatened from the security forces if it was found out they were voting for Gorran. After 4pm the news was announced that Gorran was a winner in the Sulaymaniah area. This was the reason for people on the Kurdish TV station, managed by Gorran, wearing Kurdish clothes for the readiness of celebration. At the same time, up-to-date news was communicated to me from the people inside the KDP at the top; they confirmed to our friends on the basis of anonymity that the KDP had not done well in the election and that it was not their night. Each polling station had a member of Gorran to supervise proceedings. The news of systematic fraud and ballot rigging spread all over the south of Kurdistan and Gorran lodged almost 500 complaints to IHEC.
On 25th July I had an appointment to see Dr Kamal Mudhir (Kurdish historian) at the Sheraton Hotel and he was accompanied by a guest Dr Hetham Zahawi, one of the Iraqi diplomats from the Iraqi embassy in Turkey, who was observing at the election. He told Dr Kamal Mudhir that he had been in Sulaymania until 3.30pm and all the people had voted for Gorran. Dr Kamal disbelieved him and queried the news on the basis that he did not think that would be the case. I must say I was surprised myself.
In Zhako and Dhok, the two areas which the KDP has absolute control over, papers were filled for people who had stayed at home or died after 2005, yet their name was still on the electoral register.
On 26th July 2009 the leader of Gorran, Nawshirwan Mustafa, issued a statement about the situation and sent a copy to the UN, all foreign embassies and the European Community.
Contrary to the statements by the PUK in Sulaymania that Gorran would not be able to win one district, Gorran won 51% of the votes in the Sulaymania area and there was a difference of 54,000 votes between Gorran and the Kurdistan List (PUK & KDP). In that way, Gorran made the heaviest punch yet in the face of the PUK in Sulaymania and the surrounding area. Gorran proved that the Talabani win had been defeated and was over and that the mass of people were allied to Gorran. In Sulaymania, Gorran had 174,824 votes; the Kurdistani List had 120,765 and the Reformist List, which included four parties, had 54,473 votes. In that way Gorran rescued the Sulaymania area from Talabani domination. The Talabani wing, including his coalition with the KDP, could not win 36% of the votes. That was the darkest day for Barham Salih in which he had taken so many political rallies and meetings to all districts in Sulaymania.
In general, in the city of Sulaymania, Gorran had 43% of the votes against 37% for the Kurdistani List; almost a 30,000 vote difference. The Islamic Union and other affiliated groups had lost many votes compared to the 2005 election due to the presence of alternative forces in the area. This was a big defeat for them as well. In the Sharazoor area Gorran had 30,000 votes and the Kurdistani list had 35,000 votes. In Garmyan, Gorran emerged as the winner by a difference of 15,000. In the valley of Ranya and Peshdar votes totalled 46,613 for Gorran and 45,063 for the Kurdistani List. In the Chamchamal area the Kurdistani List gained 17,473 votes and Gorran gained 13,878 votes. In the Dukhan area the winner was Gorran. Results of this kind understandably had immediate effects on the PUK political structure. Politically, the PUK own certain areas. However, the election highlighted that for the people who occupy those areas, their solidarity belongs to the Gorran movement. As a result, this election signifies not the end of Nawshirwan Mustafa’s political activities but instead the start of new ones which are clearly flourishing.
In Hawler all of us expected some kind of surprises, and in the end there certainly were some surprises with 25% of the votes gained for Gorran, totalling approximately 124,000 votes. In Hawler in 2005 the PUK alone had 37% of the votes but in this election Gorran had 25%. On the other hand, the Kurdistani List in this year’s election had 64% of compared to only 53% of the votes in 2005.
In the Dhoke area, as expected, the Kurdistani List had the majority of 75% but the reformist group gained 19% which totalled 42,000. Votes for Gorran in Dhok were not as we expected because they managed to collect only 18,000 votes.
In this way the Kurdistani List managed to win the election but the PUK had still suffered the most devastating defeat in their history. We can therefore conclude that the forces of Gorran have had a fantastic influence with the PUK becoming the third party after Gorran. PUK leaders are now unsure about their future and political equation in terms of the political landscape. There is now a remote possibility for Gorran to become allied with the KDP. PUK leaders have lost their grip on their areas, for example Mala Baktyar has lost control over Garmyan and Fouad Massoum has lost control over the cities of Ranya and Koya.
The KDP have managed to protect the majority of their own areas but history has recorded the biggest fraud and ballot rigging by the KDP apparatus on the afternoon of 25th July, with the eyes of the whole world on them as well as the embassies of 11 European countries and so many overseas observers. Again the KDP has shown its true colours.
Despite all the facts that the treatment of the PUK has been much better in respect of fraud and ballot rigging, they simply could not stand up to the heavy competition from Gorran and the succeeding defeat by Gorran. Gorran has managed to create an earthquake and given a heavy punch in the face of all political rivalries. The PUK has been through the most difficult challenges and they chose the strongest candidate for this election, who was Barham Salih.
Nawshirwan Mustafa and the Gorran leadership managed to win 25 seats. The whole of the Kurdistan parliament totals 111 seats. I do believe that Nawshirwan Mustafa, the most adventurous person, has managed to nock the Barzani boat!
Profile of Nawshirwan Mustafa
Nawshirwan Mustafa was born in 1944 and from an early age was an active member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. In 1964 the KDP split into two wings; the Talibani wing which represented urban and intellectual people and the Mula Mustaf Barzani wing which represented the Kurdish countryside and tribal groups and their leaders; including Dr Mahmood, Sami Abdulrahman and the Barzani sons, Adris and Masoud. Nawshirwan Mustafa sided with Talabani and the Ibrahim Ahmed wing.
Nawshirwan Mustafa’s ideologies these days have been affected by Talabani and Ibrahim Ahmed, who are more in favour of advocating Maoism. In 1967 Nawshirwan Mustafa first published Rizgari magazine which was the most powerful literature at the time on the Kurdish nationalist movement through leftist ideas. In that way the most powerful group adapted themselves in 1970 to the Toiler League of Kurdistan. After the pact of 11th March 1970 in which the Iraqi government promised Barzani autonomous self rule within four years, Nawshirwan Mustafa left Iraq and stayed in Vienna to do his Masters degree in Politics. When he was busy preparing himself for studying towards his PhD, Talabani contacted him following the collapse of the Kurdish rebellion in 1975 by Mulla Mustafa Barzani. Talabani suggested he organise and build the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Nawshirwan Mustafa accepted Talabani’s ideas and left Vienna to become one of the very first founders of the PUK. Inside the PUK he lead the League of Kurdistan Toilers, who advocated the principles of Marxist Leninist ideas, until 1991 when at the first PUK conference it was dissolved, following this he admitted several times that he had ultimate responsibility for that commitment. He did not consider any involvement in the civil war because he was out of Kurdistan from 1994 to 1998, this period helped him to write and conclude his memoirs and diaries.
Nawshirwan Mustafa has a strong personality and has qualities not possessed by other leaders, such us an academic background away from all types of corruption. He is well known in politics for his straightforward attitude towards his friends and has a humble personality, most of the time being surrounded by ordinary people and wearing very simple clothes such as the Kurdish salwar kameez. His enemies are constantly trying to embroil him in the civil war and in-fighting between the Kurdish groups and parties. People love him for his strong ideas and admirable behaviour.
Nawshirwan Mustafa has not had any post in the KRG preceding and succeeding the reunification of the combined PUK and KDP administration. In his absence and without his influence, the Toiler League of Kurdistan has grown, and has sacrificed many of their leaders and members inside Kurdistan including Shaswar Jalal who was ambushed by Iraqi security offices in the Kharadage area December 1979. In the early days, the PUK was set up as a national coalition for liberating the south of Kurdistan. The coalition comprised Conservative, Nationalist and Marxist groups. Nawshirwan Mustafa’s beliefs for Marxism-Lenism have faded since his trip abroad.
Finally I would like to emphasise that Gorran has emerged from the ideas of the mass of the people but has been lead by the courageous leader Nawshirwan Mustafa. Gorran has managed to break through the very old gate of the two leading parties. Gorran did not create chaos and mayhem but instead has created an environment which is propping up democracy and the power of the mass of the people. Gorran has not parted from the PUK but instead is a people’s political movement. The corrupt Barzani administration in Hawler will never be able to contain the corruption. The affair has drawn attention to the murky dealings between Talabani and Barzani as part of a concerted effort to end and halt the spread of Gorran in which they failed. Gorran has a long term purpose to achieve a democratic reform through the power of the people and parliament. Gorran has not had any weapons in their possession, only books, pens, television, newspapers, etc. Gorran strives, not to tell stories that are unrealistic, but to tell stories that are believable and have an eye for what will work rather than what should work. Our president is Barzani, our Prime Minister is Barzani, our homeland security is Barzani …they are 77 bonapartes ruling the whole of Kurdistan. This is the beginning of the end of tribal rule in the south of Kurdistan, and this process of change will continue.