The re­cent de­vel­op­ments in KRG par­lia­ment con­firm that Iraqi Kurds have missed a golden op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a thriv­ing democ­racy in the Mid­dle East

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - İl­nur Çevik

IT IS good that Barzani held the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, as it showed the world the true face of the Iraqi Kur­dish ad­min­is­tra­tion and the huge de­fects in its po­lit­i­cal sys­tem

They were out in the streets burn­ing down the lo­cal of­fices of the Go­ran (Change) Move­ment and the Pa­tri­otic Union of Kur­dis­tan (PUK) in Do­huk and Ir­bil. They at­tacked op­po­si­tion deputies in the makeshift Iraqi Kur­dish par­lia­ment in Ir­bil with guns, knives and sticks af­ter Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) Pres­i­dent Ma­soud Barzani an­nounced he will step down as pres­i­dent of the re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tion.

So who are they? They are mobs of the Kur­dis­tan Democ­racy Party (KDP), which in essence is the po­lit­i­cal toy of the Barzani tribe that is dom­i­nant in Ir­bil and Do­huk and which is de­tested in Su­laimaniyah.

In 2003, when Sad­dam Hus­sein was de­posed with the U.S. and Bri­tish oc­cu­pa­tion of Iraq, there were hopes that the Iraqi Kur­dis­tan in the coun­try’s north could be­come a role model for the Mid­dle East with an au­ton­o­mous area where democ­racy, free­dom and lib­er­ties could thrive. Why? Be­cause the re­gion was free of the vi­o­lence and blood­shed that many Iraqi re­gions suf­fered, it was se­cure and peace­ful and thus had the means to cre­ate demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions and even cre­ate a small state.

But in 2014, when Daesh ter­ror­ists also at­tacked Iraqi Kur­dis­tan and threat­ened the well-be­ing of the Kurds there, the re­gion was nowhere near even be­ing run by a mod­est demo­cratic sys­tem.

The par­ties, es­pe­cially the KDP and PUK, dom­i­nated their own ar­eas, cor­rup­tion, crony­ism, nepo­tism, fa­voritism and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties were ram­pant and no one both­ered to es­tab­lish true and func­tion­ing demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions. Peo­ple started to mum­ble that they had got­ten rid of one Sad­dam and landed with 1,000 other Sad­dams.

The U.S., which was sup­posed to bring democ­racy to Iraq and failed badly, could have at least achieved some suc­cess in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, and yet it did not bother to push Barzani and late PUK leader Jalal Tal­a­bani to in­tro­duce a vi­able demo­cratic sys­tem in the re­gion. On the con­trary, it paid lip ser­vice to Barzani, who turned his rule into a one-man show.

The in­ter­nal dy­nam­ics of Iraqi Kur­dish politics pro­duced an op­po­si­tion move­ment, es­pe­cially in Su­laimaniyah, and those who de­fected from the PUK es­tab­lished the Go­ran Move­ment, which did ex­tremely well in rel­a­tive terms in elections.

How­ever, a fight between the PUK, Go­ran and Barzani put an end to the KRG par­lia­ment. In 2015, the par­lia­ment re­fused to re­elect Barzani as pres­i­dent so Barzani ex­pelled the par­lia­ment speaker who was from Go­ran. Par­lia­ment had not been func­tion­ing since then, yet now many Iraqi Kurds say they did not miss the par­lia­ment for the past two years, which means it was al­ways dys­func­tional. Barzani was forced to re-open par­lia­ment re­cently to le­git­imize his in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum by hav­ing it ap­proved by the cham­ber.

Elections in the KRG have al­ways been fraud­u­lent. Iraqi Kurds have missed a golden op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a thriv­ing democ­racy in the Mid­dle East.

Now we are see­ing hordes at­tack op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal groups and the po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence and in­sta­bil­ity in­born in the Iraqi Kur­dish sys­tem.

It is good that Barzani held the fatal ref­er­en­dum for in­de­pen­dence last month, as it showed the world the true face of the Iraqi Kur­dish ad­min­is­tra­tion and the huge de­fects in the Iraqi Kur­dish po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. Let us hope it is an eye opener for the ro­man­tics in the West who have been pro­mot­ing the Iraqi Kurds as an achieve­ment of our times.

A gen­eral view of KRG par­lia­ment build­ing dur­ing ses­sion, Ir­bil, Oct. 29.

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