Eradicate the spirit of the 31st August, 1996
Kurdistan Democratic Alliance (K.D.A) 30 August, 2012
There are many unfortunate occasions in Kurdish history that leave deep non remediable wounds in the collective memory of our nation. The internal foolish conflict between the KDP leader (Mulla Mustefa) and the KDP political bureau members headed by (Ibrahim Ahmed –Jalal Talebani), between 1964-1970; the decision to flee to Iran in March 1975, then Hakari massacres 1978 followed by intensive internal armed clashes and lasted, intermittently, till 1998. These vicious hostilities caused great damage to the nation as a whole and discredited the Kurdish struggle for freedom and dignity locally, regionally and internationally.
The former Baath regime realized very soon, the deep hatred shared by both men, Mr. Jalal Talebani, who was considered to be close to Teheran, and Mr Massoud Barzani, who was judged as eagerly inclined to Baghdad. Mr. Massoud Barzani in his dealing with Baghdad showed no consideration for any [known social and patriotic values, including] the following crimes:
- The deportation and the massacres of Faily Kurds in 1980
- Barzanis genocide in 1983
- Anfal Genocide (1986-1988)
- Chemical attacks in (1987-1988)
- The destruction of rural Kurdish areas, including more than 3000 villages
- Arabization policy and summary execution and torture of prisoners
The KDP leader bypassed all those crimes committed by Saddam’s regime, and was eager to co-operate with Baghdad for personal interest, solidify his political and financial power and widen the zone under his control to include the regional capital Erbil, hence Baghdad made secret deals with him. Financial and mutual trade collaboration was already underway through Ibrahim Khalil border crossing point between Turkey and Kurdistan region- Iraq-. The two sons of the Iraqi dictator, Uday and Qosay, had close commercial relations with the sons and relatives of the KDP chief.
After the Baath military complete occupation of Erbil in the early morning of 31 August 1996, the city was handed over to the KDP leader, who immediately imposed his own administration, it is continuing to our present day.
What was the motive of this move, named 31 August –judged by many Kurdish observers, even within the KDP rank, as a treachery act?
- To take revenge from PUK chief as Talabani had expelled the forces of Mr. Massoud Barzani.
- With Saddam’s agreement, he enlarged the zone under his control, Baghdad embargo was lifted on the areas controlled by KDP leader.
- From 1996 up to the collapse of Saddam’s regime in 2003, the co-operation between Baghdad and Erbil intensified; economically, politically and co-ordination in security level was carried out.
- KDP chief then, received regularly, huge amounts of money from Baath regime. The money Baghdad paid to Kurdish mercenary chiefs was transferred to the KDP chief, old mercenaries had to get their salary from the KDP leader and not from Baghdad.
- The leader of the KDP and his family has accumulated fortune through smuggled oil wealth and commodities across borders with Iran and Turkey.
- The KDP chief used such financial resources to further corrupt Kurdish national ethics, propagate opportunism, hypocrisy, buying people and cultivate supremacy of dollars. A new illegally rich class emerged, formed from KDP leader’s own close relatives and from subordinated politburo members.
- The population of Sulaimani and the area around was put under further harsh economic pressure, so as to force the population to admit defeat and recognize the leadership of the pro Baghdad KDP chief. Baath regime did all it can to consolidate the power of their proxy KDP leader.
- Kurdistan economy was to witness two speeds, Dohuk and Erbil provinces, under the control of the KDP, was much better off than Sulaimani, which faced famine and poverty, but resisted surrender.
The main Kurdish chiefs, who led the revolts and dominated Kurdish society since the second half of the 20th century, were the product of warlordism temperament, personal interest and self centric behavior.
Though, the Baath regime has gone to dustpin of history, the political division of Kurdistan designed under Saddam’s rule in 1996 is entirely valid to present day. After more than twenty years of self-rule, Kurdistan is not unified as a single administrative entity; with no constitution, both party chiefs of (KDP & PUK) have kept the Kurdish society as hostage for their personal wealth and supremacy.
It shows above all, that internal Kurdish conflicts are not tackled in a peaceful, civilized and democratic manner. Asking for enemy help becomes one of the main characteristic of internal Kurdish disputes, aiming at strengthening personal and family rule.
The Shah of Iran used the Kurdish revolt (1961-1975) as a pressure card against successive Iraqi governments; he used it as well against the KDP -Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran provided weapons for both chiefs of the KDP and PUK to fight each other beginning of 90s. Internal Kurdish conflicts discredited the Kurdish national liberation movement, increased regional intervention in Kurdish internal affaires. The Kurdish leaders were qualified as warlords and not national heroes.
Then Turkey took the lead. Gokhan Bacik, the Turkish journalist put it clearly in his article dated 5th August 2012, in Today’s Zaman: “Turkish Prime Minister Turgut Ozal was the historic architect of the playing of the Barzani card in Turkish diplomacy.” But Mr. Massoud has a close equal: “for the same strategy incorporated Iraqi President Jalal Talebani as well. As the arch-symbol of this positive relationship, both Kurdish leaders had long carried Turkish passports.” The Turkish motive is clear, as Mr. Bacik put it with no ambiguity, among other reasons, he wrote: “benefiting from Barzani’s military and political power to limit the activities of the PKK.” Very recently, Ankara offered an official welcome to the KDP chief and other members of the ruling family; he is used as an instrument against Maleki, the Iraqi Prime Minister.
Partisan gains, personal and family interests, as a base of foreign relation conduct, are incompatible with the national interest of our people. Up to present day, such policy has further fragmented the national struggle and the unity of the nation in all parts of Kurdistan.
The way foreign relation and internal affaires, has been carried out, by the KDP & PUK chiefs, has impacted negatively; the Kurdish national unity, the establishment of a modern and democratic system in Kurdistan; though the two chiefs are in perfect agreement over sharing the region’s budget and resources between their families and parties, while playing a dangerous game with Ankara, Baghdad, Syria and Iran.
Adventurism in foreign policy leads to impasse; oil policy of the Kurdish chiefs highlighted the helpless position into which Kurdish authority has trapped itself: with no independent pipeline at their disposal, or Ankara’s written accord to circumvent Baghdad for Kurdish oil exports, there is no choice but must come to terms with Baghdad. How can you become legal oil exporter without being in charge of international pipelines? Smuggling oil across the frontiers is totally another matter, harmful to the national interest of our people.
The Iraqi government has to be more flexible, and start negotiation in order to avoid foreign exploitation of internal disputes, which may be harmful to both sides.
Opposition parties, mainly: Gorran, Yekgirto and Komela, who are active legally in Kurdistan, were timid, and their capacity to rally greater massive popular support throughout Kurdistan, undermined by too much of rhetoric instead of daring lucid actions.
To eradicate the 31 August mentality from Kurdish politics, end the political crisis in Kurdish society internally and externally, family and autocratic rule – lasted more than half a century - must be replaced with a truly democratically elected parliament from which an elected government can be formed, according to the already approved constitution by the people of Kurdistan. Such a change depends on the generation emerging in our society, with new vision, new faces, new strategy and tactic, and divorced from the old classical pattern of the failed current elites.
Kurdistan Democratic Alliance