American expert expects electoral surprise
in Erbil in Kurdistan elections
By Hawar Abdulrezaq
Jerry Weinberger is Professor of Political Science
at Michigan State University and an adjunct fellow
of the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington
D.C. He just returned from Kurdistan. For four
months he was consulting for the American University
of Iraq-Sulaimaniyah. He wrote a very critical piece
on Kurdistan called ‘Kurdistan’s
democracy deficit’ for the
Weeklystandard.com on 22 July.
The election of Kurdistan
parliament will go ahead in 25th of July, do you
think the strong parties like KDP and PUK will
succeed or will the other lists be more competitive?
I think the combined list will win, but Change may
do very well in Sulaimaniyah and even surprise in
Erbil [Hawler]. It all depends on whether the
election is fair and if the PUK-KDP list refrains
Nawshirwan Mustafa the former PUK official has a new
list by the name of "Change" and is seen as a real
opposition to the power of the Kurdistani list. Do
you think they will be successful?
It depends on what is meant by success or failure.
Change will not win the election. But it could win
enough seats to become a serious parliamentary
What's U.S's official's
opinion about this up coming election, and do they
talk about it at all?
The U.S. wants a fair election; but it is unclear at
this point what the US government is prepared to do
to see that the election is fair. In general,
Kurdish affairs do not get much attention in the
What do you think of the
Islamic party's chances in this election?
I don't really know: but opposition parties will
always benefit from the public perception of
corruption and inefficiency in government. That
perception is growing, especially in Sulaimaniyah.
Do you think the
neighbouring countries have say in the election, in
short do you think Iran, turkey and Syria are
supporting or assisting the different lists?
Again, I don't really know. I would not be surprised
at outside intervention from your neighbours. The
issue of "Greater Kurdistan" is especially crucial
to those neighbours.
Does Obama administration
have a clear policy toward the Iraqi Kurds?
In my view the Obama administration is primarily
interested in stability in the region. As between
stability and vigorous and genuine democracy,www.ekurd.net
it will choose stability.
There is a perception in
Irbil that Obama's administration is more pro-Maliki
and that they have neglected the Kurds, what do you
think of this perception?
The U.S. has to consider its relations with Turkey
in any assessments of its polity toward Kurdistan.
The Kurds matter, but only in the larger scheme of
What do the Kurds have to
do to get closer to Obama's camp?
Be moderate on the issue of Kirkuk: the new draft
constitution is not a good step in that direction.
What do you think of
Kurdish lobby in Washington, are they active enough
in working for Kurdish issues and make U.S public
aware of Kurdish needs?
It is effective in presenting the PUK-KDP combined
list: but not in reflecting the more complicated
political situation in the PUK.
What do you think the
future of Kirkuk will hold?
My guess is that the solution will be some form of
negotiated "special status" for Kirkuk: but I don't
have a crystal ball so it's anybody's guess.
What do you think of the
recent conflict between Maliki and Iraqi leaders?
It doesn't bode well for the integrity and stability
of Iraq. The great danger has always been federalism
so loose that Iraq breaks up; the current move
toward greater power in Baghdad has to be seen in
that context, and the more general context of
Turkish worry about "greater Kurdistan."
Jerry Weinberger is Professor of Political
Science at Michigan State University. From 1997
until 2001 he was Chair of the Department of
Political Science. He received his B.A. from The
University of California at Berkeley in 1967 and his
Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1973. He won the
Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award, has
won fellowships from the Earhart Foundation and the
Institute for Educational Affairs, and has twice
been a Senior Research Fellow of the National
Endowment for the Humanities. He is the Director of
the LeFrak Forum and Co-Director of the Symposium on
Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy, both located
in the Department of Political Science.
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