Hello Nechirvan Barzani? / Nechirvan’s U.S. VILLA

By Kamal Chomani: 25.10.2012 – Kurdistan Tribune –  Almost six months have passed since Nechirvan Barzani, the Kurdistan Regional  Government’s (KRG) premier, reshuffled the cabinet. The KRG’s crises have not yet been solved. Instead, problems have increased during his premiership. The Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) media has promoted Nechirvan Barzani as a kind of demi-god who can easily solve any problems. Some foreign journalists and scholars have also had a hand in this and I don’t want to be suspicious about their reasons!

But six months have passed and his cabinet cannot be even compared to Barham Salih’s. Many people expected Mr Barzani to do better, but he has not overtaken his predecessor.

Some people say that the KDP has made Hawler the best city in Iraq. Others say the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has done the same in Slemani. These people want to fool the public. Yes, there are some very good developments. But they forget that – if we had a transparent, accountable and democratic government – we could have done a hundred per cent better.

One of the characteristics Kurdish politicians and government officials are recognized for is this: They become the leading businessmen and richest people in the region within a few years, but they do nothing for the people.

Many Kurdish officials have occupied lands and buildings that belong to the government. The Prime Minister is one of them. If he hands over just the lands and buildings of his secretary in Hawler, which belong to the government, the problems of many youths who cannot get married because of a lack of accommodation will be solved.

Nechirvan Barzani’s reforms are very superficial. One of the biggest reforms in his six month in office is uniting the security forces and founding a National Security Council – which is one of the worst initiatives, pointing the KRG towards a totalitarian system.

The cabinet has failed to provide adequate public services. The problems of education are abundant. A student died after the wall at a school entrance collapsed on him. Parents protested, saying they won’t send their children to such schools anymore because the lives of their children are in danger. Don’t forget that the children of most KRG officials study in private schools while many parents have to buy books for their children in the markets. We need to build hundreds of schools to meet the shortage of places. Some schools take students in three shifts. Many students go without teachers while hundreds of graduates walk workless in the streets.

The problems of health are numerous. Cholera has killed people in Kurdistan and spread in Slemani and other cities. It is a big shame for the KRG to have cholera in 2012!

A problem with the mentality of KRG officials is that they believe five star hotels like Divan plus malls and skyscrapers means the development of Kurdistan. However, anyone who lives in or visits Kurdistan can easily see the reality.

Unfortunately, the unification of the administrations has not worked so far. Still we have PUK and KDP zones. Nepotism has not ended. If you are not a KDP or PUK member, you cannot get a suitable position.

Look at Qubad Talabani, the KRG’s representative in the US for more than ten years. When his mission (which was only meant to last for two to four years) finally ended, he became a minister in Nechirvan Barzani’s cabinet although without qualifications.

Oil is still controlled by a few people inside the KDP and PUK. Oil income is something even members of parliament lack good information about.

The seventh cabinet of Nechirvan Barzani has been unable to unite Peshmerge forces and the disputed territories are in greater danger than before. The problems with Baghdad have not been solved and Barzani looks powerless. The KRG’s budget of 2012 was the worst yet. Nechirvan Barzani didn’t accept any criticism from the media and opposition.

There are many fields in which we can cite Barzani’s failures but his failure to expand the freedom of speech and civil society should be highlighted. Barzani was hailed by journalists as someone within the KDP who supported freedom of speech more than his uncle and cousin. However, during these last six months he has been silent about violations against human rights and journalists.

Alas, while writing this piece, I clicked on Hawllati.co and found pictures of Nechirvan Barzani’s US villa. Kurdish youths cannot get married because they lack accommodation, and Mr Barzani enjoys in villas in the USA.

Hello Kak Nechirvan Barzani: Don’t you think the time of words has already passed and now it is time for radical reforms?

Or won’t KRG officials understand until the wave of the Arab Spring turns into a Kurdish Spring in the KRG?