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 The inheritance of power in Kurdistan…From ancestors to offspring 

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


The inheritance of power in Kurdistan…From ancestors to offspring  13.6.2012  
By Kamal Chomani  -
The Kurdistan Tribune

From right: Massoud Barzani, Kurdistan region president, Nechirvan Barzani - KRG Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani - chief of Parastn (Protection Agency of Kurdistan). Illustration photo:

Photo: Archive
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June 13, 2012

In this society, if you are not born into a family of Kurdish leaders, you will not have any chance at all to get into high positions in political and government fields, no matter how skillful and knowledgeable you are.

In Southern Kurdistan, Kurdish democracy has not forgotten about tribal customs. Although we have different political parties with different ideologies, they are closely connected with the dogmatism and rules of the tribal system which has a historical background in our society. If you go deep into Kurdish history, power was transferred from ancestors to offspring. This should not be considered as something absurd, it was like that in the whole region (and it still exists in some Arab countries). The absurdity is that it still continues in other ways.

The Kurdish leaders can be differentiated from any other leaders of the modern world in many ways, but two particular characteristics should be raised here. First, they stay leaders until they die. Second, their sons and offspring are new leaders by birth.

Basically, one of the main reasons for Kurdistan’s undeveloped international relations and its weak lobbies in the US and EU is that the people who have become Kurdish representatives in these countries are the least skillful, apart from the fact that their work is done for their political parties and not the nation. All Kurdish representatives around the world – either in the KRG’s representative offices, such as in the US and UK, or working as ambassadors in Iraqi embassies – are there due to their party loyalty and their kinship with the leaders.

Dr Sardar Aziz, is one of the modern elite Kurdish political thinkers. All Kurdish readers, especially the new generation, know him. Readers cannot wait for his next column in the weekly Awene. Years back, he wrote an impressive article in Awene newspaper in which he mentioned that he had asked PUK to assign him to work in the US to develop the Kurdish lobby – which is still in the weakest form – there. In brief, as he explained, the PUK was happy with his suggestions but, due to his being independent and not a PUK member, he was not valued enough to be asked to work there.

I only raise one crucial question: if Dr Sardar Aziz had worked there since then, how successful a lobby would we have by now? Or what would have happened if he had become the Kurdish representative in the US?

By all means, no one from the KRG’s representatives in the EU or US can be compared to Dr Sardar Aziz. His skills and knowledge are far ahead of theirs. They should be grateful if Dr Sardar considers them as his students. Unfortunately, people like Dr Sardar, who are abundant nowadays, can never get any positions in KRG institutions, especially in external KRG offices and Iraqi embassies. The reason is simply that they don’t belong to the families of the two ruling party leaders.

I will list just a few of the sons and offspring of the leaders in each party who have got high positions without having the relevant qualifications:

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is led by Massoud Barzani who has got this power as an inheritance from his father, the Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani
Nechirvan Barzani, KRG Prime Minister
Masrour Barzani, chief of Parastn (Protection Agency of Kurdistan)
Mansour Barzani, Gullan Chief of the Military Unit.
Shekh Adham Barzani, KDP leadership council.
Sidad Barzani, KDP leadership council
Sirwan Barzani, KDP leadership council*.
Delshad Barzani, KDP’s representative in Germany.
Saiwan Barzani: Iraq’s ambassador in France.
Hoshyar Zebari: Iraqi Foreign Minister, Massoud Barzani’s uncle.
Babakar Zebari : The Iraqi’s Chief General, Barzani’s uncle.
Dindar Zebari, Hoshyar Zebari’s Cousin and the deputy of KRG’s office for Foreign Relations.
Bayan Sami Abdulrahman, the KRG’s representative in UK.
Chnar Sa’d Abdulla, first she became Member of Parliament, then Minister, and now part of the KDP leadership and chief of the public organisations of the KDP.

*In fact, seven members of the Barzani family are on the KDP leadership council.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is led by Jalal Talabani the president of Iraq who also became more popular due to being son-in-law of Ibrahim Ahmed, the second man in Aylul revolution after Mullah Mustafa.
Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, Talabani’s wife, PUK politburo, chief of 1st PUK branch in Slemani. (No need to list her other positions).
Qubad Jalal Talabani, KRG’s representative in US.
Lahur Talabani, chief of Anti-terror forces.
Bayiz Talabani, Finance Minister.
Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, Hero’s sister, PUK’s representative in the UK.
Bakr Fatah, Omer Fatah’s brother, Iraq’s ambassador in Brazil.
Rebaz Kosrat Rasul, PUK’s leadership, chief of PUK’s public organisations.
Mohammed Sabir, Jalal Talabani’s brother in law, is Iraqi Ambasador to China.
Dr Kamal Jamal, Jalal Talabani’s brother in law, is the Iraqi irrigation minister.
I must say that these people are just a very few within the two ruling parties in Kurdistan who have got power because of their family connections to the leaders. I could list dozens of others, but I think these are sufficient for those who want understand the scene.

The people of Kurdistan are fed up of such policies.

In the opposition parties, you hardly come across such things, although there are a few cases. The recent congress of the Islamic Union of Kurdistan showed us that they are much more democratic than the KDP and PUK. The Islamic Union was able to change its leader for the first time ever at a Kurdish political party congress. Interestingly, the new leader has no kinship with the former leader, Salahadin Bahaadin. The Gorran Movement will have a crucial experience at its expected congress, demonstrating whether they will be a copy of the PUK or do something new.

The sons and offspring of Kurdish leaders have occupied almost all important government institutions and external offices along with monopolizing the economy in the region. Why talk about democracy when just two families decide on every policy? This is nothing but a new kind of tribe system in a modern form. Nation building cannot be like this.

This phenomenon has made thousands of Kurdish youths frustrated. No matter how brilliant and smart they are, they must have strong affiliations with the KDP or PUK to get any positions; whereas others, without the relevant skills or knowledge, can be what they want to be!

Kamal Chomani is a Kurdish journalist based in Iraqi Kurdistan. He writes for Awene, south Kurdistan's major independent newspaper, sits on the editorial board of Lvin magazine, a leading trimonthly, and works with Reporters Without Borders. You can reach the author via emails: [email protected]

First published at Kurdistan tribune

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