The KDP and the Amer­i­can black­list

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Hemn Hawrami *

On the White House’s in­vi­ta­tion, Pres­i­dent Barzani was due to meet US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and his deputy Joseph Bi­den on Jan­uary 31, 2014. Barzani’s de­ci­sion to can­cel the visit has sparked a great deal of res­o­nance. As stated, Pres­i­dent Barzani’s de­ci­sion was based on the US fail­ing to re­move the KDP and the PUK from the Amer­i­can black­list as had pre­vi­ously been promised. His de­ci­sion was a mes­sage to the US ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress that this kind of treat­ment of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion is un­ac­cept­able.

On the White House’s in­vi­ta­tion, Pres­i­dent Barzani was due to meet US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and his deputy Joseph Bi­den on Jan­uary 31, 2014. Barzani’s de­ci­sion to can­cel the visit has sparked a great deal of res­o­nance. As stated, Pres­i­dent Barzani’s de­ci­sion was based on the US fail­ing to re­move the KDP and the PUK from the Amer­i­can black­list as had pre­vi­ously been promised. His de­ci­sion was a mes­sage to the US ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress that this kind of treat­ment of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion is un­ac­cept­able.

Var­i­ous ques­tions were later asked about what be­ing on the Amer­i­can black­list ac­tu­ally means: why are the KDP and PUK on the list? Why are they be­ing kept on it? Here, we will try to pro­vide our read­ers with es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion about the Amer­i­can black­list.

The USA Pa­triot act

Af­ter Septem­ber 11, Amer­ica re­vised its se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures, laws and reg­u­la­tions, aim­ing to pre­vent a re­cur­rence in other ways and places. On 26 Oc­to­ber, 2001, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed the USA PA­TRIOT ACT by a ma­jor­ity of 357 mem­bers to 66 with this goal in mind. When the Act was passed in the Se­nate by 98 to 1, the Bush Ad­min­is­tra­tion started to im­ple­ment the act.

The USA PA­TRIOT ACT/2001 seeks to unite and strengthen Amer­ica by pro­vid­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate tools for in­ter­cept­ing and ob­struct­ing ter­ror­ists. A num­ber of Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tions and laws were changed due to this Act, in­clud­ing na­tional im­mi­gra­tion law.

Since 2001, the US Ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought to make the most use pos­si­ble of the PA­TRIOT ACT for con­fronting po­ten­tial ter­ror­ist at­tacks. They there­fore set up a new agency called the Home­land Se­cu­rity depart­ment to co­or­di­nate the 16 US in­tel­li­gence in­sti­tu­tions, given that they had come to be­lieve that Al-Qaida was ex­ploit­ing the lack of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween them. This is also why they es­tab­lished the Direc­torate of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence (DNI). Se­cu­rity pro­ce­dure on the borders and in­for­ma­tion ex­change pro­ce­dures were also tight­ened due to the PA­TRIOT ACT. The en­try of non-Amer­i­cans and the visa process were also re­vised, as were the pro­ce­dures taken to in­ves­ti­gate var­i­ous cases. The fields of fi­nan­cial sup­port, trans­ac­tions, and collection were tight­ened up, too. Even the pro­ce­dures for com­pen­sat­ing vic­tims of ter­ror­ist at­tacks were changed as a re­sult of the PA­TRIOT ACT.

Later, for fur­ther scru­ti­niz­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the con­tent of the Pa­triot Act, the Se­cu­rity Depart­ment drew up a con­tract with a cen­ter of na­tional se­cu­rity in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Mary­land Univer­sity known as the Cen­ter for Home­land Se­cu­rity Ex­cel­lence. The pur­pose of this cen­ter was to cre­ate a data­base of armed ter­ror­ist in­sti­tu­tions, or­ga­ni­za­tions and groups.

The KDP and PUK were not men­tioned in the Pa­triot Act. Later, the cen­ter gave a con­tract to an­other in­sti­tu­tion known as START (the na­tional con­sor­tium for Study­ing Ter­ror­ism and Re­sponses for Ter­ror­ism); on the ba­sis of the data­base START would cre­ate, de­part­ments and se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions con­cerned with im­mi­gra­tion, bor­der se­cu­rity and grant­ing visas would be re-or­ga­nized and the US For­eign Depart­ment would make changes to the visa forms. Prior to Septem­ber 11 there had been no ques­tions ask­ing if you were a mem­ber of an armed group? Or if you had links with any ter­ror­ist groups? Or have you had any mil­i­tary train­ing? How­ever, be­cause of the Pa­triot Act and the Se­cu­rity Depart­ment reg­u­la­tions, these ques­tions were added to the Amer­i­can visa forms.

Then START pre­pared a global list of ter­ror­ist groups, in­di­vid­ual ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties, par­ties and armed groups who were wag­ing an armed strug­gle against their na­tional gov­ern­ments and who had claimed vic­tims. An ex­am­i­na­tion of START’s in­for­ma­tion sources and its cri­te­ria for re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion re­veals that the or­ga­ni­za­tion of­ten de­pends on in­for­ma­tion even when it comes from a sin­gle source, and that a large part of its sources were sim­ply ar­chives of na­tional news­pa­pers.

The START data­base in­cludes 80,000 ter­ror­ist events from around the world, per­pe­tra­tors known or un­known, and 800 or­ga­ni­za­tions, par­ties and groups. For Iraq, they con­sid­ered the years 1976- 2011 and recorded some un­true in­for­ma­tion in the data­base in 2002. Or­ga­ni­za­tions black­listed by START in­clude the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Ir­ish Repub­lic Army, Polis­aro, the Com­mu­nist Party of Nepal, FRETILIN and FAL­IN­TIL in East Ti­mor, and the African Na­tional Congress--Man­dela’s party!. In Iraq, the KDP, PUK and Iraqi Na­tional Congress (INC) headed by Ah­mad Cha­l­abi are also black­listed on the ground that these par­ties were en­gaged in armed strug­gle against the Iraqi govern­ment.

In re­la­tion to the KDP, the party is black­listed in the light of 10 sam­ple events dat­ing from 1976, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1997 and 2007. When we in­ves­ti­gated the de­tails of these events, it be­came clear how lit­tle ba­sis in re­al­ity the data­base has. For in­stance, on 12 June 2007, it says that an armed KDP force in Qarat­apa at­tacked an Iraqi army unit and killed 7 Kur­dish Iraqi soldiers!! Of course, ev­ery­one in Kur­dis­tan is aware that seven Kur­dis­tan Pesh­marga were killed by ter­ror­ists in Qarat­apa, but START places the re­spon­si­bil­ity on the KDP. Other events are listed from the past and the Pesh­marga’s strug­gle to de­fend our people against the Baath party, Ara­biza­tion, An­fal and chemical bom­bard­ment and de­scribed as ter­ror­ist at­tacks against a sov­er­eign govern­ment.

The KDP and PUK are known to have been added to the list in 2004 and 2005. At that time, a Kur­dish cit­i­zen from the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion who had gone to the US in 1996, had a green card and had been work­ing as an in­ter­preter with a US army unit in Ro­madi, was asked dur­ing his card re­newal and mar­riage pro­ce­dure whether he had been a mem­ber of any Kur­dish party; of course, he had replied proudly said he was a mem­ber of the KDP.

The Wash­ing­ton Post has pub­lished a re­port crit­i­ciz­ing the sys­tem and this kind of treat­ment.

Af­ter 2004, the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the KRG be­gan work on hav­ing the KDP and PUK re­moved from the list. The topic was tabled many times with the Bush and Obama ad­min­is­tra­tions, which promised to do their best to re­solve it, see­ing it is a great em­bar­rass­ment for them, as well. They promised to find a so­lu­tion and open a US con­sulate in Hawler, but un­for­tu­nately no so­lu­tion had been found be­fore 31 Jan­uary 2014, the day Obama was due to meet Pres­i­dent Barzani. That is why Pres­i­dent Barzani de­cided to can­cel his visit to Amer­ica un­til the ques­tion is com­pletely re­solved.

*Head of KDP’s for­eign re­la­tion of­fice

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