Moving forward in Kurdistan and setting
the stage for change
By Bashdar Ismaeel,
longtime contributing writer for ekurd.net
As demonstrations and protests across Sulaimaniyah
rage past its third week, what is resoundingly clear
is that the Kurdistan government needs a detailed
plan of action to deal with grievances and to cater
for the demands and voices of the people.
Ultimately, it's the people that sway governance,
and leaders and politicians can only assume power
based on jurisdiction, stewardship and mandate from
At the end of the day, when the people talk the
politicians must listen. The reason is simple, other
than the evident fact that politicians are elected
to serve the people, above all the very people that
bring you to power, can just as easily take you off
it. However, the basis for this is purely by
democratic, constitutional and non-violent means.
Whilst an aurora of negativity and hopelessness has
somewhat underpinned the current situation in
Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel, senior UK Editor.
events that have unfolded should be heralded as
potentially serving as the crucial milestone in the
democratic, political and social evolvement of the
If utilised affectively, the much publicised
protests and heated political discussions can serve
as the launch pad to a greater Kurdistan.
All sides including the KRG have openly admitted the
need for reform. It's no secret that Kurdistan has
many deficiencies that if not addressed
pragmatically and systematically will hamper the
Kurdish national existence.
The question is not whether Kurdistan needs reforms
but it is finding common ground on what aspects
require reform, the extent of the reforms and how
the reforms will be implemented.
Any reform package needs to be unanimously agreed in
parliament with clear responsibilities, timescales
and no ambiguity in the mechanism for its
For this affective reform to take place, the ruling
parties and the opposition must work closely
together. A balanced, constructive and partisan
atmosphere is required for such motions to prove
With the Gorran Movement facilitating as the first
real opposition in Kurdistan, this was undoubtedly a
major accomplishment in the Kurdish democratic
lifecycle. An affective opposition is needed in any
democracy to act as a check for the performance and
actions of the government and to act as the pressure
point to induce the government into real change.
The opposition should serve as a reminder to the
ruling parties that should they fail, then there is
another party ready to assume the mantle. The onset
of opposition should highlight to the government
that real results are needed, that they need to
raise the bar in winning over the people and
fulfilling electoral pledges, because if they don't
then a real competitor is ready to pounce.
Just take a look at the Labour party in the UK,
after a number of landslide victories over the
Conservative party, they were emphatically ousted
last year as the people lost trust and patience,
much as they had done with Tory rule prior to 1997.
Now, the conservative led coalition is under fierce
pressure to deliver on their election promises and
ensure that reforms they have proposed are
The labour party, far from downbeat, are already
sharpening their political knives to win the people
over once more.
However, Gorran has many deficiencies of its own in
terms of its approach to assuming power and
dismantling the current government. In this light,
Gorran has failed thus far to showcase itself as a
viable alternative power. Gorran lacks a clear
programme or political manifesto to highlight what
it intends to do once it is in power and exactly how
they intend to enact the changes needed in Kurdistan
that they supposedly epitomise.
Gorran needs to work more as a productive force than
a destructive force in propelling the Kurdistan
Region to new prominence and evolvement. What
Kurdistan now needs is a national opposition party
and not just a localised opposition movement. The
elections in 2009 clearly showed that the KDP and
PUK still mustered a significant support base.
The recent events in Sulaimaniyah have illustrated
the polarised nature of the Kurdish political
landscape. Just this week, marking the 20th
anniversary of the Kurdish uprising,www.ekurd.netone
side of Sulaimaniyah was in fierce protests whilst
another PUK dominated side were waving political
flags and orchestrating political rallies. When
anti-government and pro-government camps become
entrenched, it commonly highlights the lack of
moderate voices and balanced approach to fermenting
change and ultimately it is the people that suffer.
Clearly, those who state that the KRG has achieved
nothing are short-sighted as are those who claim
that the government has no deficiencies. There have
been tremendous achievements in the Kurdistan Region
in a short time period. However, this should in no
way whatsoever serve as an excuse by the ruling
parties to devolve, rest on their laurels and
overlook the corruption, extensive bureaucracy, lack
of public services and missing political
accountability that is also rife.
As such the proposition by Kurdistan President
Massoud Barzani to hold new elections must be
embraced as a significant and bold step. It is just
the right tonic to settle upset political stomachs
in the region. This move, which was a clear
stipulation by Gorran must endorsed and not diluted
by further unrealistic demands. The calls by Gorran
for the dissolution of the government prior to
elections bear no weight.
This is the same government that was overwhelmingly
elected by the people less than two years ago under
the watchful eye of the international community.
This government remains the legitimate authority of
the Kurdistan people. In any Western country, even
when there has been widespread condemnation of the
government or a serious political storm where new
elections have been called, governments have not
been dissolved prior to the holding of the
In an extraordinary session in parliament this week,
the current KRG cabinet survived a vote of no
confidence by a clear majority. Now the government
needs to urgently investigate the unfortunate
attacks on the media outlets, the attack on the KDP
offices, the most tragic killing of a number of
protestors and the burning of Gorran buildings.
Reform packages will not be implemented overnight or
in mere weeks, it will likely be the job of the next
elected government to carry out proposed reforms. In
the meantime, now is when electoral campaigning
should begin. All political parties should make
clear their political manifesto and programmes and
then it's down to the people to ultimately decide
who they trust to deliver to them.
New elections are an important step at this
sensitive juncture as it's a chance for political
parties and politicians to renew oaths and validity
with their people. Political parties need to retain
the trust of the people and renew the mandate from
the people to rule once more. This is why without
new elections and clear choice of the people, the
situation in Kurdistan will have deteriorated into a
nightmare political scenario.
At the end of the day, the voice of the people
either at the ballot box or on the streets doesn't
lie. Therefore, whoever wins the next elections is
the undisputed choice of the people to run the next
The main political parties in Kurdistan should run
on separate lists, this way it can be clear who
attained the votes and ensure power is
representative of the will of the people. It also
makes the election process more transparent by
having clear choices on the electoral lists.
Regardless of who comes to power, there needs to be
an impartial reform committee to oversee the
proposed changes and reform packages on the table.
Reform can only take place through the Kurdistan
parliament and must have the overall consensus of
all parties. Negotiations require moderation and
compromise and can never be one-sided.
While positive seeds are potentially sown in
Kurdistan in hoping of bringing evolvement,
prosperity and new opportunity, it will be criminal
to forget that Kurdistan is an entity that still
suffers from great handicaps in Iraq and the Region.
The stance of the Kurdish parties must be
differentiated between the importance of serving
Kurds in Kurdistan and the serving of Kurdistan in
Iraq. Disunity at home must not be at the expense of
Kurdistan national interests in Baghdad.
While key reforms are implemented in Kurdistan, the
list of key demands made by Kurds in the Iraqi
government negotiations must not be overlooked. The
Kurdish politicians should be squarely held
accountable if any of these 19 points are not
achieved as much as the reform packages that need to
be implemented internally.
Let there be no doubt to any Kurdish party, internal
Kurdish issues can never be resolved in Baghdad. As
a nation that fought bitterly for self-rule and
federalism, Kurdish issues should remain within the
Kurdistan parliament which was created for this
Its time for Kurdistan to move on and build for the
First Published On: Kurdish Globe
Other Primary Sources of Republication: eKurd.net,
Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel is a London-based freelance
writer and analyst,
contributing writer for ekurd.net website.
Ismaeel whose primary focus and
expertise is on the Kurds, Iraq and Middle Eastern
current affairs. The main focus of his writing is to
promote peace, justice and increase awareness of the
diversity, suffering and at times explosive mix in
Iraq and the Middle East.
Most recently he has produced work for the
Washington Examiner, Asian Times, The Epoch Times,
Asia News, The Daily Star (Lebanon), Kurdish Globe,
Hewler Post, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), KurdishMedia, PUK Online and OnlineOpinion.
He has achieved seminar recommended readings for Le
High University (Pennsylvania) and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. His work has been
republished extensively elsewhere on the Internet.
You may reach the author via email at:
, Bashdar's website
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