Sunday, April 30, 2006

Coalition Forces and Iraqi Obligations towards Protecting Kurdistan

May 1, 2006

By Eamad Mazouri

USA {} May 1, 2006 - Ever since the overthrew of dictator Saddam’s regime and the new found liberties and freedoms Iraqi people in general have enjoyed for the first time in their modern history, as well as the turmoil and chaos the country has witnessed following that, the majority of the Iraqi people and their representatives have come to the conclusion that no political group or faction alone is capable to form a viable government without approaching others and engaging them to create a national consensus to build a national unity government. In fact, the Iraqi democratic experience is unique in this regard. For any government in Baghdad to succeed, it needs to move toward all the other elements and factions to build a national coalition, hence reflecting truly the mosaic texture of the Iraqi society as a whole. A general consensus has become absolutely necessary without which no government can do well in Baghdad. It is unique in terms that this government has to be inclusive of the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis and the rest of the Iraqi ethnic and religious groups who make up the fabric of the Iraqi society despite the outcome of the general election as it has been the case in last few national elections, although constitutionally, two or more groups might command enough vote and seats to be eligible to form a government. In the Iraqi elections, while important for each group the number of seats they win in Parliament, nothing could be accomplished without the engagement of all parties or at least the majority of them. The reason behind that is the fact that general consensus is the key to form a national unity government that would actually be able to function properly and successfully. Fortunately, the very first indications now are that Iraqi leaders have learned their lessons and are thinking along those lines despite the differences amongst them on details. The actions of the new Iraqi government should reflect this concept on all aspects including the protection of its territory against outside aggression.

The Kurd's Obligations and Rights towards Iraq

The Kurds, on the other hand, have come along way to reintegrate and rejoin Iraq after almost 15 years of self-rule where they have enjoyed their own government, elected parliament and all the state institutions necessary to run their own affairs successfully. Like we said one of the major reasons behind their conviction on the federal solution was to benefit from the safeguard a sovereign Iraq could provide them with when it is needed. This is an essential element implied if not expressed in the contract of the voluntary union the Kurds have entered in with Iraqi state.
Most of the unbiased and objective political observers would agree that Kurds in Iraq while were being accused of separatist tendencies by their adversaries on national and regional levels, have indeed became the safety tap of Iraq and the main ingredient of its unity. Their leaders are playing a major role in keeping the country together, creating a general consensus among Iraqis, building a national unity government, contributing to the security and stability of the country, and combating fundamentalism and terrorism.

Today, Iraqi people have finally come to the conclusion to set up such a government. At the same time the Kurds themselves have resolved their differences and agreed to form a regional unity government in Kurdistan. In the midst of all these positive achievements, some irresponsible radical elements who are perhaps acting on behest of others or are dancing on the tunes of some regional powers are taking some dangerous strides inside the country along the flash points areas such as Kirkuk. It is no surprise that these suspicious moves are coinciding with the mass of foreign troops by both neighboring countries Turkey and Iran under various pretexts along the borders with Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdistan President Mr. Massoud Barzani has repeatedly reiterated the position of Kurdistan government on the issue of Kurdish rights within these countries and the way the Kurds should lead their struggle.Mr. Barzani maintains that Kurds are not a minority, but a divided nation against its will. Therefore, they have the right to self-determination, including having a homeland like any other nation.

However, in Iraq a true and democratic federalism based on a “voluntary union” has been chosen of the Kurd's free volition as the best way to resolve the Kurdish problem. His message to the Kurds in other parts has been to avoid violence and resort to peaceful means as the only viable method to secure their rights.

Overall, the Kurds and their regional government have performed their role the best they could and satisfied their responsibilities as Iraqi Nationals and Kurdistan as a federated constituent of the federal Iraqi government as the constitution provides.

Now Kurdistan is threatened by foreign armies that according to Newsweek, International Edition “have last week, according to angry Foreign Ministry officials in Baghdad, Turkish commandos briefly crossed 15 kilometers into Iraqi territory”. While Kurds and their government are perfectly capable to defend their people and territory, United States of America, Britain and other coalition forces and according to international norms, UN charter and accords of occupation, are under the obligation to prevent further aggravation of the situation on Iraqi borders. Also, and most importantly, the Iraqi government should fulfill its commitment in protecting and preserving its territories by playing its role as a sovereign state to put off such a crisis, guard Kurdistan and employ all its resources to thwart any attempts to further exacerbate situation and turn the only stable, secure, secular part of Iraq which is Kurdistan into chaos, violence and uncertainty.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The King is Still Naked

By Ardalan Hardi
April 26, 2006

Now that the Shiite politicians have picked their new nominee, Jawad al-Maliki, for a prime minister to replace outgoing PM Ibrahim al-Jaafari, we can expect another long doldrums state of stalemate in Iraq. I don’t mean to say that nothing will change – obviously it already has. A new government is been formed, the parliament has convened, and it would seem that everything is going smoothly. However, it is optimistic to think that with the changing of the guards the political impasse will end in Iraq.

The Kurds are not going to give up what freedom they have achieved in their current democratic de-facto state after being subjected to series of betrayals by the United States and the largest genocidal massacres of modern times by Saddam Hessian’s Ba’athe’s party.

Even though most Shiites are Arabs the Sunnis treat them as though they are a different nationality. Because of their religious differences, the Shiites always have been considered second class citizens by Iraqi governments and the Arab world. In a recent interview with Al-Arabiya television Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said “Most of the Shiites are loyal to Iran, and not to the countries they are living in.’’ This is indicative of the Sunni’s true view of the Shiites.

Under Saddam’s Ba'ath party, Shiites were murdered by the tens of thousands. For decades Saddam brutally oppressed the Shiites, who rose up against him after the 1991 Gulf War. Now that the evil dictator is gone, the Shiites are not willing to share power with the Sunnis; after all, the Sunni insurgency of today is the dictator of yesterday that committed all the atrocities against the Shiites and the Kurds.

The Sunni’s in Iraq are threatened by the prospect of Shiites rule. The majority of the Sunni’s are former Ba’athe’s sympathizers with very strong sectarian and Arab nationalistic believes. For centuries they have refused to acknowledge the existence of Shiite’s theology and to this day they believe Iraq is an Arab state and Kurds are nonexistent and should be annihilated.

Maliki and Jaafari both come from the same political ideology – the Dawa party. The group strongly supports the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq. That contradicts the whole theory of democratizing Iraq.

Adding to all this are the outside influences and sectarian tensions in the Shi’ite alliance. Al-Maliki, like his predecessor, and al-Jaafari's both are equally sectarian in their policies and have strong ties with the Iranian regime and the rebel Muqtada al-Sadder group which is allegedly behind most of the sectarian violence that we see today in Iraq.

Iraq, the country as a whole lacks any one person who has the ability to reunite Kurds, Sunni’s and Shiites under one umbrella called Iraq. Not because of inept leaders but because of the realities of strong differences, dislike and mistrust that run deep between the three different factions.

While it is true some progress has been made toward democracy in Iraq: the constitution, the election, Jaffari’s peaceful steps down from power, the fact the Sunni’s joined the second election and are more willing to participate in the parliament and use dialog to solve their differences. These are all great strides toward democracy in the Middle East as a whole. However, the only force that kept the fragile state of Iraq together, avoided civil war and brought the different factions to the dialog table, is the presence of the U.S. But it will take more than four to five years to build on this foundation. Is the U.S. willing to stay in Iraq for 20 to 30 years? The answer to that is obvious.

Just like Humpty Dumpty Iraq has fallen and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put Iraq together again.

We can not achieve long term peaceful resolution in Iraq and Middle East as a whole unless we are willing to face the true realties that exist in that unbalanced region.

By blindly stamping approval for al-Maliki so we can pull our troops out of Iraq and claim victory in favor of phony national reconciliation we are just procrastinating what is inevitably going to happen – a divided Iraq.
We all know it does not matter whether it is Jaafari or Maliki that is crowned as Prime Minister, The King is Still Naked.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Terrorizing terrorism

By Ardalan Hardi
April 9, 2006

The use of the word terrorism by Turkey and its allies on all the unrest that Ankara faces in northern Kurdistan has led to a point where it has lost its meaning. It is one of the greatest impediments to the progress of democracy in Turkey. Instead of accepting the responsibility for the lack of realistic solutions to the Kurdish Question, the Turkish state blames it on others: the Kurds.

The unwillingness of EU to come to terms with the issue and often side with Turkey confirms this moral malaise. Nothing will move forward so long as this nonsense persists. Ankara's inability to handle the Kurdish issue through diplomatic and democratic dialogue just prolongs the problem.

In Iraq, a country that borders Turkey and shares the Kurds as subjects with Ankara, we see all the signs of terrorism. We see atrocities like: beheadings, suicide bombers and dragging of mutilated bodies behind cars by the remnants of from Saddam's era thugs who continue to "entertain" us with their mayhem, courtesy of most television stations. And yet, this activity is called insurgency and not terrorism. The U.S. is willing to have a dialogue with these repentant killers to find a peaceful solution to the stalemate.

There, we also have the Muqtada al-Sadr who continues to terrorize civilians with: bombings drive-by shootings, kidnappings, assassinations, the storming of Sunni mosques and the kidnapping of innocent worshipers and this is called sectarian violence.

When hundreds of thousands of unarmed Kurds protest the brutal living conditions and the human right abuses by Ankara, they are described as terrorists by the so-called "civilized" world, which unfortunately includes the Unites States of America. What a shame! What a travesty! What logic!

The word terrorism has lost its meaning when it is used by Ankara and its so-called allies. This way of looking at terrorism may benefit the so-called "national interests" of Turkey and its supporters, but it has also generated a deep distrust in the U.S. foreign policy and its aims in the Middle East.

In the globilezed world that we live, no country, you would think, would get away with the amount of abuse that is ongoing in Turkey. The Turkish state's definition of terrorism brings shame to the foreign policy of the United States.
If all of the unjust policies that are forced upon people who pursue change through a peaceful process are ignored, then you will have the incentive to create monstrous terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

The protesters in northern Kurdistan are everyday citizens, including women and children that are fed up with Ankara's disregard for humanrights, lies and barbarous approach to handling the Kurdish socio-economic issues.

Abuse of the nature that exists in Turkey breeds hatred, and enmity. If there is no hope in sight for a peaceful solution, we will see more of the same, I am afraid.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Who is the terrorist?

By Ardalan Hardi
April 2, 2006

In the last few days members of the Turkish security forces have attacked Kurdish civilians across Northern Kurdistan with vengeance. Hundreds have been arrested and eight have been killed including three children. And what does the Prime Minster of the so-called democratic Turkish state has to say about the civil unrest in Kurdistan? And I am quoting him verbatim: “The security forces will intervene against the pawns of terrorism, no matter if they are children or women. Everyone should realize that", says Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Erdogan the dictionary describes terrorism, “As the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.” Now who is the terrorist? 20 million Kurds who have been forced to live under decades of brutality, torture, unjust and ruthless occupation of the Turkish state can not be terrorists. Children are not terrorists but killing them is a terrorist act. No, Mr. Erdogan, you and your state are the terrorists not millions of Kurds who simply want to live like human beings.

Isn’t it every human being’s right to be able to practice, preserve his or her native language and culture? Mr. Erdogan, the Kurdish issue is not going to be solved by more threats and terrorist acts of your security forces, but by understanding what a great American president Thomas Jefferson wrote "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Like every human being on the face of this earth the Kurds want these very things. Recognition of Kurdish rights and peaceful resolution through dialog is the only road to peace in that reign. Avoiding the reality that stares you in the face, time after time, is nothing but pure self-deception.

Aren’t you the one who calls on Israel and Hamas to establish dialogue in order to revive the Middle East peace process? Last time I checked Hamas was on the same list that lists the so-called “terrorist” PKK as well. Please, Mr. Erdogan, stop making nonsense and pay attention to what you are saying. Not only the Kurds, but the world has had enough of your hypocrisy. Instead of talking maybe you should listen once in a while. Listen to what EU spokeswoman Krszting Nagy said about your country, "The region needs peace, economic development and real exercise of cultural rights for Kurds,” adding that this was not a new problem and was raised constantly by the European Commission in its talks with Turkey.

Unfortunately, like all terrorists you only cherry-pick what is convenient to you and your diabolical plans.

Isn’t it time to place them under a RIP sign?

The Burning Monument

Saturday, 01 April 2006
Suleimni (Awene) By Bakhtiyar Ali
Until March 16, if anyone would have asked me about the most appalling political event in the past twenty years, I would have answered that it was on August 31, 1996 (when the Kurdistan Democratic Party asked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces to help them defeat Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's militias in Erbil.)

But what happened in March 16 was a political and ethical earthquake that was larger than August 31. Firstly, (March 16) marks the day that a generation emerged that can set monuments on fire. Secondly, a power that can shoot at children was born on that day. The most meaningless interpretation is (that the burning of the Halabja memorial) was like burning the history of Halabja, as party media says.
On the contrary, nothing expresses Halabja's history like the burning of the monument. Setting the monument on fire is simply like burning a small faction of the lies that have been repeated for the past fifteen years. It rejects the policy of worshipping the dead while those who are alive are treated like dogs. Halabja actually stood up when the monument was set on fire; it marked a revolution of the town, a revolution of which the public was previously unaware. The irony is that the ones who opened fire on kids and freedom of expression are the same ones now crying for the burnt monument. It is the biggest hypocrisy and ethical crises that you kill me while guarding my statue; that you cry for my past while stabbing me.
The ones who open fire on secondary and university students and shoots at hundreds of unarmed people cannot say they love our statutes more than us. The policy of this (Iraqi Kurdish) administration is that for the sake of the monument they are ready to destroy Halabja; they are ready to kill dozens of people, to detain them and talk about executions.
(Awene is issued weekly by Awene Company in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan.)