By Suleiman Kareem — Special to Ekurd.net – Falah Mustafa Bakir, the head of the Department of Foreign Relations in Iraqi Kurdistan.
11-7-2014 – I think even Falah can agree his interview on Rudaw in June was utterly atrocious. The government, meanwhile, continues to snub desperate calls by its staff. In fact many employees had high hopes the interview would make a difference given their numerous calls to the interview host, Hiwa Cemal. But astonishingly the government has chosen to side with Falah again than the interests of the public sector and destitute employees.
On the other hand, rather than address his behavior and understand why his own staff are calling into TV talk shows to complain, Falah has gone on a wild goose chase trying to punish those who may have called. His arrogance has exacerbated, threatening to illegally transfer up to nine junior staff because he foolishly believes his intimidation will dissuade and silence staff than intensify it. The junior staff, which continues to send disturbing documents proving Falah’s financial and administrative corruption, recognizes this is just another game doomed to fail.
Just how many employees called Rudaw for Hiwa to ask Falah about his raging corruption and oppressive behavior? Falah ought to be proud of his achievement; he’s the first guest for Rudaw to have received record number of calls into the show from his own staff members complaining about him. The staff is compelled to anonymously call into talk shows and write articles online due to lack of trusted avenues in the government to level complaints against Falah, and things may have been different if his circle of support just listened to some of their issues. This is why he continues to be arrogant and disconnected.
But instead of asking why more than 80 individuals have resigned and fled in protest since 2006, Falah has been given assurances he’ll stay on in the new cabinet. It’s not a surprise this promise was given by an aide to the PM several months ago, but it’s an outright insult to the staff. It appears killing the morale of dedicated staff members, abusing public office and funds, and adopting notorious sexual behavior does pay, and those supporting Falah have, more or less, spat in face of disgruntled staff. Rather than investigate who has illegally given 36 dunams of land to Falah’s nephew, the woman was promoted to Minister of Municipalities and Tourism.
What’s more, it appears Falah found it fitting to shift blame for gross financial misconduct to his finance director, who knows very well he cannot release a nickel without Falah’s consent. By the same token, Falah’s Assistant Head, who illegally outranks his deputies, has the authority to approve expenses of only up to 100,000 Iraqi dinars, while Falah personally approves all other expenses and bonuses, including those Hiwa raised during the interview. In fact, Falah not only approves vehicle repairs, but at one stage he personally approved requests for toilet paper, stationery and lunch.
But what most readers don’t know is that Falah has the exclusive authority to release money from the department’s coffers. It is, by all accounts, the only reason why over the past year alone he has redecorated his office building three times top to bottom without any consideration to the economic crisis in Kurdistan or to the other directorates which are not supplied tea, sugar or teaspoons. He changes furniture, wallpaper and carpet for every room in his building, costing several thousands of dollars every time. It’s one of many reasons he won’t allow financial oversight. The huge budget that arrives from the Council of Ministers is swiftly moved into his personal safe inside his office, not the department’s coffers. The department’s operational costs and expenses are reimbursed by the Council of Ministers, allowing Falah to abuse the entire budget for personal means.
What’s more, rather than address his own egotistical attitude in light of the recent articles, he’s been issuing new threats to vulnerable staff members. The camera monitoring station has also been moved into his office, and his brother, who’s also his illiterate secretary, has been assigned the important task of keeping a watchful eye over the staff. Several employees have been moved in the process and he has compensated his finance director for the financial accusations on Rudaw by giving him a larger room, which none of the other directors have. This is one of many ways of how he exchanges one loyalist in lieu of another. The Council of Ministers, meanwhile, has completely ignored the financial corruption in this public department and its moral obligation to stop the illegal transfer requests by Falah.
It’s interesting, however, that he has, by his own words, conceded that all the pledges of creating organizational structure over the past many years were a complete farce. But there’s still hope the President or PM will heed the calls of screaming staff members to investigate the gross negligence. This interview really begs the question of why Falah is allowed to continue to dine western consultants and advisors coupled with his visits half way around the world with his entourage at the expense of the public sector if he will not allow the institutionalization the department urgently needs. Why is he not being held accountable for the gross misconduct?
The reality is the department today reflects the same arrangement than that of 2006 when a handful of unusual characters were appointed to sustain the status quo. In spite of millions of dollars spent and dozens of able, educated and experienced staff members, not a single new person has been appointed to head a new or existing team. The reason is simple; few accept this master and slave setup and many have telling ideas about how the department should not be run – Falah’s biggest fear. By the same token, his directors – now in power for almost eight years – and junior staff are prohibited from declaring any job or indeed government rank on record despite his claims on Rudaw. Any staff member can confirm this – it just takes a simple phone call.
In the past couple of months, for instance, four more employees have announced their resignations; similar to over 80 other employees who’ve left, they’re fleeing the evil environment due to his ignorance and tendencies that resemble an oppressor taking advantage of public office. Contrary to his deceiving responses, most locals and returnees who’ve fled the department work more for less nowadays. But in contrast to Falah, it’s never been about the income for them; most say the salary is a minute sacrifice to escape. Similarly, the women Falah hires into his office usually last a few weeks – enough time to determine whether they play by his game – and his promises of delegating authority will be held hostage to their attitude to his repulsive behavior. Those who choose to accept it are awarded while others are sidelined and moved to another team.
He deceives potential new staff members from the moment they have their interviews. He tells returnees from Germany he has no German speakers when he has three; he tells women returnees there are no capable female staff in the department despite having dozens, including returnees, and he gives false promises to vulnerable youngsters eager to service their homeland. Eventually even his loyalists who return from their studies abroad under the government scholarship program find their new relationship with this perverted man lasts only a few months. In spite of their valuable studies and experiences, they, like the dozens of other staff, will eventually transition into typists writing up letters for Falah to sign.
Falah’s sexual hunger is well recognized in and outside of the department too. One Kurdish female singer visited him on several occasions to ultimately receive assurances of employing her husband. It turns out all it took was for her to accept his sleazy and kinky remarks about her attire and sexual appeal, which were unequivocally expressed during meetings and over social media. It’s not bad for the ones who eventually get hired, but it doesn’t last very long as the employee, in this instance, was slowly sidelined due to lack of meaningful responses from his wife. He ultimately fled too.
It is even said that a staff member abruptly walked into a meeting recently only to discover Falah out of the official seating format and suspiciously close to the guest – a young woman. They say he looked as if he had seen a ghost, but the employee certainly understood what was going on – Falah was just being Falah, as one of his directors tells me.
The staff has never been given the platform to make suggestions for new representations or discuss long-term plans for the future. In fact, the department has absolutely no long-term plans because Falah remains the key obstacle. The staff tells me that that the horrendous annual meeting is merely a PR opportunity; Falah has never taken on board their suggestions or praised the staff for their hard work. It’s more of a routine practice for him to make pledges of reform while simultaneously draining any morale the staff has left. What’s more, not a single KRG Representative has been assigned or promoted to their position through his department. In fact, similar to those who have quit the department, almost every representative avoids meeting Falah; they make direct contact with senior officials in Kurdistan and were appointed through their own channels by contacting the PM and/or their political parties. It’s a shame, you may say, but these representatives know exactly what a misguided, insecure and unprofessional human being he really is – several have complained about him. Falah recognizes he has neither a powerful tribe nor any service from the Kurdish revolutionary movement, and that his translation service is the only part keeping him in place. Unfortunately, his key supporter wrongly believes there isn’t anyone else in Kurdistan who can be trusted to translate, and this is the single pretext to keeping him in power.
His ferocious insecurity is evident even with his colleagues in the government. It’s not uncommon to find Falah instructing his senior staff from withholding information about public events with other Kurdish officials. His fundamental concern with events is his seat; staff is instructed to seat him close to VIPs as possible even if it means pushing out a senior minister or party official, otherwise they’ll be shouted at upon return to the office by a man who resembles a child throwing a tantrum. By the same token, Falah will arrange an audience for a foreigner with the PM, regardless of the reason, if he has the slightest idea that a minister has refused to do so. He is in constant competition with officials who do not take him seriously; he believes everyone is after him for his chair.
Staff members also recognize his bizarre remarks about his phone calls with either the President or PM, allowing him to go on an ego rant. It’s not very clear why he believes it to be necessary, perhaps to remind himself that it’s not a fantasy world; he is actually in contact with senior officials despite his despicable behavior and suspicious history. Even in his meetings, he’ll tell guests completely out of the blue he had a call from these officials. The staff also explain that his visits or meeting with foreign officials usually result in new preposterous instructions upon his return designed to make the staff feel as miserable as possible. The most popular instruction is calling for employees to be moved from one room to another, and the nine staff members who’ll be transferred shortly probably come as a result of his visit to Washington. His loyalists choose to accept this conduct.On one occasion, for instance, a staff member was told not to sit near the door because Falah did not want to see his face when coming down the stairs. He was subsequently moved. If truth be told, it’s not uncommon for Falah to have personal feuds with junior staff for simply meeting the President or PM through personal channels. On numerous occasions, for instance, he’s called junior staff about trivial matters because one of his many informants had relayed information about a photo update on Facebook. His only goal is to raze any joy the employee may have from their photo. Someone else who met the PM received a silly call from Falah early the next morning and told to stop going from one internal building to another. Falah personally monitors the CCTV footage during office hours.
But it’s not just ordinary staff members; Falah also constantly changes his personal drivers too. These drivers, who quickly become acclimated to his sexual hunger and corruption, speak about numerous occasions of him walking away from the PM’s residence with hundreds of thousands of dollars given for the growth of the department. It never makes it to the office. They even tell experiences of one Falah loyalist taking women by their hands to dance with Falah during public events. They all know about his sexual desires, and feeding his hunger can be rewarding for some.
In fact, staff members chosen by foreign representations in Erbil for courses abroad come under fire directly from Falah; they are summoned and told not to freely choose staff members so he can choose a loyalist. His beloved course is delivered by an old German instructor – probably in his 80s – who’s given the same junior staff the same course with the same content and presentation. It’s not surprising that the staff has memorized the course content and his cringing tales of experiences in Saudi Arabia. In fact, it’s well known that Falah specifically told the instructor his disrespect for his staff, encouraging the visitor to shout and insult staff members on numerous occasions. Falah and his loyalists, though, could do with going on the course to learn some basic manners. The one factor he shares with this German instructor is their tedious and repetitive tales; Falah’s favorite is how he supposedly fled the Baath Party (uncertain) to join Bath University.
This man has no moral compass; he’s confined to his office to personally monitor internet activity, CCTV footage and conversations between staff to ensure absolute awareness of any disgruntled staff member. This comical man has become a laughing stock amongst officials and public servants.
This is the notorious translator who spends most of his time messaging women online, including singers and Miss Kurdistan, and trying to promote pageants; the man who illegally keeps former contractors on the pay roll for months to use the salaries as bonuses to buy loyalty, and the corrupt bully who treats the department as his own family-run business empire than a government institution. Fortunately for his staff, Falah will always be remembered as the perverted man whose own staff members called into a popular television show to complain about his unethical and corrupt behavior. The biggest success of these articles is the fact that numerous diplomats and officials who work with Falah have read it. They now have a glimpse of what a horrible human being he really is and how he’s despised by a majority of his own staff.
Those who continue to send in fresh information in spite of Falah’s bullying and intimidation should be proud. Falah knows his kingdom is crumbling, and his threats shouldn’t be taken seriously. If only he knew what documents have been sent to me recently due to his unstoppable threats.
To be continued…
This information can be verified with any employee in the department.
Note 1: Thank you to those staff members for continuing to send extra information.
Note 2: Falah will probably ask a few selected individuals to refute these allegations on social media pages in light of this article. He will continue to punish a few, while ignoring and threatening others in the department.
Note 3: The goal most employees are waiting for is to see the end of Falah’s reign. Their hope is that the President or the Prime Minister will ask a few employees to explain in person what is really happening in the department. The man claiming to have support from the leadership is damaging their image and support.