Barzani’s latest move to dictatorship

By Mufid Abdulla: Kurdistan Tribune – 2.7.2013 – Barzani has revealed his plan to stay in power without an election. For the last few months the dispute over the expiration of Masud Barzani’s presidential term has put the Kurdistan region though a major political crisis with much wrestling between the three main parties: between the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran on one side, and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK on the other.

The hidden game-plan of the KDP was to deceive the people and it has secretly bribed key PUK politburo members so that Barzani can extend his presidency, without an election, for another two year until 2015. In fact they hope this means he can stay in power for several more years – for as long as his health permits.

Erbil has become the capital of Kurdistan and today Erbil is a symbol, not of democracy, but of surrender by the Kurdistan parliament to the forces of dictatorship. I wasn’t surprised by the news on Sunday that there were fights between MPs in parliament when the ruling parties suddenly introduced their law to extend Barzani’s presidency. Their action blatantly breached the rules of parliament which state that 48 hours’ notice must be given before discussion takes place on new legislation.

What happened on Sunday it is not just about Barzani. It is also about the culture of dictatorship that is on the rise in the south of Kurdistan.

Barzani represents a new breed of dictatorship in Kurdistan, based on one family. On 17 February 2011 Barzani and the KDP wanted to completely crush the peaceful demonstration in Suli. They were held back by Talabani who did not want to go too far – and who knows otherwise what weapons they might have used against the people.

I would like to ask political observers why they should be surprised by Barzani’s latest act. He is exploiting the desire for peace among the people of Kurdistan because aggression and thirst for power is in his blood.Masud Barzani is a person who never had the qualities to be a president of Kurdistan. He has not been able to rise above being head of his clan, militia group and political party. He lacks the charisma to be a leader of all the people.

It is no surprise that Barzani is conveniently out of the country while this is happening so that he can pretend he is somehow not involved. But no one is fooled.

The Barzani culture of treason was very clear when his two brothers, Aubaidulla and Lugman, sided with Saddam in 1974, though in the end Saddam executed both of them. Masud Barzani’s act on Sunday is reminiscent of 31 August 1996 when he called on Saddam to help rescue his forces in Erbil from PUK forces.

I applaud the calm and decent reaction of the opposition parties. They could otherwise have brought millions of their followers onto the streets of Kurdistan like in Egypt, Brazil or Syria but they don’t want to immediately do this, because they know Barzani and his supporters are dictators who don’t care if they execute entire demonstrations for their own purposes.

We don’t want a civil war: we have already been through the 1990s decade of civil war at the hands of the ruling parties. We don’t want turmoil that could play into the hands of Kurdistan’s enemies and put at risk everything that has been achieved.

However, because of Barzani’s latest move to a dictatorship, the situation is now like a tinder box and anything could spark mass demonstrations like we are seeing in Egypt – but such protests should be peaceful.People know who the criminals of the civil war are. These people are executing democracy and hijacking the privileges of parliament .What Barzani did with his followers is like a coup d’etat. But it is not entirely Barzani’s responsibility. The PUK is now the KDP’s proxy and, like any KDP politician, the PUK leaders want to preserve their wealth and keep reaping the benefits of oil. The PUK politburo is acting decisively against the wishes of the PUK grassroots.

When the Gorran movement had their successful, well-attended conference last month, the KDP concluded that they cannot win the argument through the ballot box and, for that reason, they decided to strike a deal with the PUK and delay the Kurdistan parliament elections yet again.The south of Kurdistan has suffered more than two decade of domination by the two ruling parties. This latest action has derailed any hope of general reconciliation between the political parties. Sunday’s events have once more shaken the confidence of investors in the markets of Kurdistan. The rising power of dictatorship could hinder progress in the building of our infrastructure.

Barzani is a dictator running a secret state with secret police and he is secretly stealing the bulk of the oil wealth which belongs to the people. For me Sunday was the beginning of the first chapter of his end.  It accords with Barzani’s history of treason and of deceiving our nation. Any mass demonstration and uprising needs to start from Erbil: that is the only way to hit at the heart of the dictatorship that Barzani has been building for the last two decades.