Political impasse in the Kurdish region of Iraq

THE KURDS of northern Iraq saw the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and the autonomy that was granted to them by the US-backed Iraqi government, as a path to achieve freedom and independence. However, the result has turned out to be the opposite of what the majority of the Kurds expected.

Rozh Ahmad

The autonomous government is headed by the two Kurdish nationalist parties – the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (PDK) – both of whom have a history of perpetrating outrages against one another, including the catastrophic Kurdish civil war of 1993-1998.

But now they are one ‘family’ who, between their corrupt officials, together share all the resources of the Kurdish regional government (KRG).

Since the KRG has been formed it has suffered from insecurity and political instability. The region is also in a state of shock because of the corruption and oppression that is carried out daily by the KRG nationalist officials.

This government is unable to provide people’s basic daily needs such as electricity, water and surprisingly oil and gas, even though Kirkuk’s oil field is one of the biggest oil reserves in the world.

On Wednesday 9 July some of the streets of Sulaimani, the Kurdish city in north east Iraq, were blocked by thousands of young Kurdish protesters who gathered in the city demanding water and electricity.

At the start only a couple of hundred people attended the protest but when they started walking through the city they became thousands. Even in those streets that lead to the new Western-style shopping centres (that have not benefitted the majority, poverty is actually increasing), people joined the protest.

The main slogan of the protest was “water and electricity”, but then people added other words to the main slogan: “democracy”, and “the right of self-determination”. They carried on their protest and then headed toward the city council.

Broken promises

The police forces received a phone call from the city council telling them to stop the protesters from reaching the building. The police hurriedly put on the uniforms and equipment that were given to them by the US and UK armed forces in the region.

Two protesters were arrested as the police blocked the council building, ready to crush any movement by the protesters in front of the building. Then, suddenly, the head of the council announced he wanted to negotiate with the protesters.

Representative members of the protest went into the building to negotiate their demands, but after a little while they came out empty handed, saying: “The councillor has promised to take our demands to the parliament”. Then the protesters headed back to their homes. Again it was another promise, another lie.

Protests similar to what happened on 9 July happen every summer. In the summer of 2006 instead of one protest there were a series of demonstrations throughout all the cities and towns in Kurdish northern Iraq, demanding basic needs. However, all the protests led to failure because the people are not politically organised. An independent opposition does not exist in the current political scene in the region.

The majority of the political parties have given up the idea of an independent Kurdistan. Besides, the left are generally not organised and the communist parties are nothing more than a shadow of dogmatism and opportunism.

Therefore the political scene illustrates the need for an independent Kurdish party that is able to connect the national liberation aspiration to social liberation for workers and the poor as well. Because without social liberation, democracy and independence will only be words on the tongues of the corrupt Kurdish officials like they are now in the current Kurdish regional government.