A way to avoid a looming crisis

March 8, 2011
Regardless of what everyone thinks about the protests, the country, including its Kurdish region, is heading towards a real crisis. We are being divided into two camps.
A majority that wants to see better public services and an end to corruption, and a minority that wants the status quo to continue.
A look at the political configuration of the protests shows that the protesters are on the offensive and the authorities are on the defensive, even though they are adopting harsh measures to quash the protesters at times.
This cycle will continue for as long as there is no real change in the way we are conducting our affairs.
For a change to happen, a major upheaval needs to take place in the way the authorities behave.
There are serious shortcomings in the current political and administrative systems that make the eradication of corruption and the efficient provision of services almost impossible.
There are many reasons for this: not having the right people in the right places; not having a real idea as to how to eradicate corruption; not having a real idea about the running of the civil service in an efficient manner; not having a vision for the future of our civil service; and above all, the lack of political will to fix all these problems at various levels.
At times of crisis, there is a choice of two things: either the population can lead the country out of the crisis, or the leaders can.
The people can get the country moving when the direction and goal are clear and simple. This usually happens when there is one common goal that is clear to everyone, as in the case of the Egyptian and Tunisian regime changes.
Since regime change is not an option for most of the protesters, the way forward would be a change of behavior in the government. Here, the role of the leaders would be essential, both in Baghdad and Erbil.
Looking at Baghdad, Prime Minister Maliki is in the driver’s seat and has enough constitutional and administrative power to spearhead a national reform campaign that truly introduces modern day values and concepts of good governance and that takes on those who oppose him.
A very good way of doing this would be to start demonstrating seriousness with his followers and party and so gain the political power to move to other areas of the country.
The “Charge of the Knights” operation in Basra is still alive in many people’s memories. Mr Maliki could capitalize on that and conduct a managed change before things get out of hand.
As for Kurdistan, the government is unable to make the changes needed to create an environment for better public services and the eradication of corruption.
This is simply because Prime Minister Dr Barham Salih is not strong enough to conduct such a campaign.
In Sulaimani, at best he comes fourth or fifth in terms of power ranking within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The opposition Gorran does not accept his authority either.
In Erbil, he cannot impose anything without the consent of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. So, for him to take any serious steps he has to have the consent of three to four people in each of the two major parties at least.
This leaves the ball solely in President Massoud Barzani’s court.  He enjoys enough political and legal power to spearhead a reform campaign that eradicates corruption in all its forms and paves the way for better services and a better standard of life, even if it was at the expense of the people who are close to him. In fact, he could start with those who are close to him.
Only with initiatives of this type would the situation be appeased both in Baghdad and Kurdistan, and a common goal would be created for the people to leave the crisis behind them and work towards a better future.
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