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Aziz Mohammed, human rights minister in the Kurdish regional government, said 10 of the murdered women were from the Arbil, 11 from Dohuk and six from Sulaimaniyah—the three provinces making up the Kurdish region.
‘These are alleged honour killings. We can say that the violence against women continues’ in Kurdish Iraq, Mohammed told AFP.
He said 97 women -- 60 in Arbil, 21 in Dohuk and 16 in Sulaimaniyah—had attempted to commit suicide by self-immolation during the four months.
“In October the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (Unami) expressed serious concern over the rising incidence of so-called honour crimes in Iraqi Kurdistan, confirming that 255 women had been killed in just the first six months of 2007, three-quarters of them by burning. An earlier Unami report cited 366 burns cases in Dohuk in 2006, up from 289 the year before, although most were not fatal. In Irbil, the emergency management centre had reported 576 burns cases since 2003, resulting in 358 deaths”. (Thursday December 13, 2007. The Guardian)The article is titeled: “Freedom Lost”

The New Prime Minister, how can he be credible?

Ayoub Barzani

      Nearly two months are left for the end of the tenure of the current Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional       Government (KRG).  The premier, Nechirvan Barzani, is from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and       has to be replaced by a new Prime Minister, chosen by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), according       to the agreement of unification of the two administrations of January 2006.

      The next PM will inherit a heavy burden left by the present cabinet:

- The present PM, is the nephew and the son in law of the present President (Mr. Massoud) of the KRG, thus the choice is highly based on nepotism. Nepotism is always harmful to democracy and nourishes corruption.   
- There are 46 ministers in the current cabinet of the KRG, a bizarre number that remains unique to Kurdistan.
- The two administrations remain disunited, with each party having absolute control over its territories.
- Administrative establishments are highly infected by uncontrollable corruption.  With the lack of interest from leadership to address this dilemma effectively, many officials of KDP and PUK adversely exploit the wealth of Kurdistan.
- The wealth accumulated by many of the incumbent officials is a matter of question.  No one knows how the elites in power and their relatives enriched so rapidly and how much wealth they hold in foreign Banks
- The incumbent elites of KDP and PUK continue to live extravagantly, while the majority of people in Kurdistan struggle hardly to live.
- The Kurdistan Parliament remains to be a defunct institution, primarily serving party interests rather than people of Kurdistan, a characteristic of totalitarian regimes.
- No real attempts are made to introduce democracy and strengthen civil institutions in Kurdistan, but rather imposed dynastic policies.
- Freedom of expression is greatly reduced, with journalists harassed and arrested and news papers closed down.  On December 11, 2007, the parliament decreed a new law, putting further restrictions on the freedom of press, a further evidence of the totalitarian domination of KDP and PUK on the parliament.
- Transparency is disallowed. How the revenues and the budget of the KRG are used, remained unknown for 16 years. Details on the issue are so secret, that even a number of the domesticated members of the Kurdish parliament have no knowledge about it.
- The rule of law remains weak.  No single member of the two parties has been brought to justice, despite the recognition of the widespread corruption and crimes within upper ruling hierarchy of the Kurdish ruling parties.
- Honor killing continues to be an unchecked issue in Kurdistan.
- Inflation is out of proportion.  The cost of living and prices of basic commodities increased drastically after 2003, chiefly burdening the deprived classes.
- Rural areas of Kurdistan have been neglected and no attempts were made to reduce unemployment. Migration of the young Kurds to Europe restarted recently.
- Natural resources are left unexploited.  Drinking water is imported from neighboring countries.
- Economic dependency strengthened on neighboring hostile states.
- Officials of KDP and PUK monopolize lucrative businesses, and many Kurdish investors are starting to deal with the Iraqi government to avoid the dominance of KDP and PUK.
- The (KRG) is ultimately an authoritarian dynastic dictatorship, with little credit or credibility anywhere in Kurdistan, except in subservient circles it finances.

There are many other challenges facing the next PM, but we stop here.

What concerns people in Kurdistan is a way out of this social disorder.  Can the new Prime Minister limit this harmful trend? Is it the matter of personal qualification and integrity of the new Prime Minister, or rather the matter of uprooting the system to allow real changes occurring?

PUK has yet to officially name its candidate for the post of Prime Minister. Rumors suggest that the likely candidates for the post are Mr. Kusret Rassoul or Mr. Berham Saleh, as they are prominent members of PUK.   According to a well-informed source, Mr. Talebani – the Iraqi President – during his last visit to Washington offered the post to Dr. Nejmeddin Karim, who is an independent Kurdish personality.  Yet, however wise sounds the proposition, the partisan mentality and preservation of financial gains and power privileges within KDP and PUK are so dominant that may deter an outsider to become Prime Minister.  An independent Prime Minister may find his way full of mines, and clashes with the President Massoud are inevitable, as he is insanely jealous of his power.

The people of Kurdistan will certainly welcome an independent personality to take the post of Prime Minister.  Yet; the independent Prime Minister must be committed to the people of Kurdistan, strong enough to break the partisan chains and take a transparent approach to resolve the challenges facing Kurdistan.  To gain credibility from the people of Kurdistan, the new independent Prime Minister must take the following actions:    

      Declare his financial assets to the public and in which Bank.
      Declare publicly the methods through which he collected his wealth.
      The public must be aware of his political background and his relations with the Kurdish national question.
      Must show he was against the fratricidal war during the 1990s, ignited by the two
      Mr. Massoud and Mr. Talebani.

By taking such steps, the new Prime Minister will demonstrate his sincerity, accountability and commitment to use the post to ameliorate the lives of people in Kurdistan.

However, under dictatorial systems, the change of the Prime Minister is insignificant.  It is a change that is imposed on people, rather than allowing the people to choose.  It is a cosmetic process to manipulate the people.  Yet; if the new Prime Minister desires to truly introduce democracy and free the Kurdish Parliament from party dictatorship, he will certainly have the total enmity of the corrupt elites, but will have the backing of the people of Kurdistan.