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 Trying to Overturn the Game Board in Iraqi Kurdistan 

 Analysis — Opinion    
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


Trying to Overturn the Game Board in Iraqi Kurdistan  10.2.2011  
By Rudaw

February 10, 2011

The resort to violence only finds justification when a political system remains closed to any other attempts at change. Even then, non-violent protests and civil disobedience are generally preferable to armed resistance. Few doubt that the Tunisian and Egyptian political systems were completely closed in every meaningful sense of the word. This in turn justified the mass protests that erupted in both countries, and the international sympathy they garnered.

The Gorran Party’s recent talk of replicating the Tunisian example in Kurdistan, however, amounts to crying wolf. As my fellow columnists for this newspaper correctly pointed out, Gorran participated in the last elections, which were declared free and fair by international observers, and accepted the results. In other words, the political system in Iraqi Kurdistan, despite its many shortcomings, still allows room for the legal, institutionalized pursuit of change. If the Tunisians and Egyptians had been so lucky, they wouldn’t have needed to take to the streets by the millions.            

Gorran leader Nawshirwan Mustafa (L) Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani.
To turn suddenly around and demand the dissolution of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Parliament strikes most people as petty. Gorran is acting like a child who overturns the game board when he starts to lose. It complains that Gorran people were not given any posts in KRG institutions. Since the current KRG government is not a minority coalition government, why should they have expected any appointments? After Gorran forsook Kurdish national goals in Baghdad by quitting the Kurdistan Alliance (a unified bloc formed to press Kurdistan’s objectives vis-a-vis political groups in the rest of Iraq), they should count themselves lucky that anyone still speaks to them at all. At a time when Iraqi Kurdistan still faces serious threats from outside, it also strikes many Kurdistanis as the height of folly to try to bring down the government through non-institutionalized means.

What makes this whole incident all the more depressing is that, lost in Gorran’s overdone histrionics, are some very legitimate complaints against the KRG. Nawshirwan Mustafa is correct when he points out that a great many key institutions in the KRG,
www.ekurd.netfrom the peshmerga and Asayish to various not-so-non-governmental organizations (also known as ‘fake NGOs’, or GONGOs – government organized non-governmental organizations), remain under KDP and PUK party control rather than that of the government. Corruption still runs rampant, as does nepotism. Most, although thankfully not all, media outlets are party controlled (of course this includes Wusha Corporation, the Gorran Party’s media company). Services, including education and health care, still need a lot more improvement – the kind of advances that are less likely to occur when corruption keeps society from running as efficiently as it could.

Most countries in the world face problems more similar to those of Kurdistan than Egypt or Tunisia – partly open, partly liberal political systems where incumbent political parties enjoy all kinds of unfair advantages. Such systems are not the closed, deeply authoritarian political environments that spawned protest in Tunisia and Egypt. The proper response in such a context would be to exercise one’s right to free speech (Wusha Corporation and its KNN television channel are very useful to Gorran in this case) and work hard to compete in the next elections, rather than demanding that the current game be overturned. We’re all anxiously waiting for Gorran to develop the political maturity to realize as much.

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  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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