The Kurds: Rethinking Baghdad?

September 17, 2011

A friend from Baghdad who is close to the ruling political establishment said these days, to gain popularity a leader can take a hard-line stance on two issues: the Kurds and Kuwait.
With each new crisis between “the partners” in Baghdad and Erbil, and within Baghdad itself between the seculars and religious dogmas, the Kurds are distanced even more from the Arabs.
The way the Kurds have handled Baghdad closely resembled the old days of Iraqi politics.
The Kurds often complain that their “partners” in Baghdad behaves the way the former regime did, by embracing a centralized, one-man rule. If anything, the Kurds are also encouraging Baghdad to behave this way.
The connection between the two “partners” has been limited to the relationship between the Kurdish leadership and whoever holds power in Baghdad. More specifically, it’s a relationship between Kurdish leaders and the leaders of Iraq’s ruling parties. It just so happens that these are religious parties whose vision for Iraq’s future and view of the world are rather limited, especially in this modern age.
As a result, talks between the two sides were trite and defended the current system of government. Everything revolves around current issues; nothing is about the future because the two sides have contrary visions.
The Kurds of course claim they are in the liberal camp and have a natural ally as a result in Baghdad who is not in government. But the reality seems to be different. The seculars and the liberals of Iraq, who would normally share a similar vision for the future as the Kurds, have been sidelined and marginalized.
As a result, the prime minister and others feel comfortable calling them Baathists and tools, claiming their goals are to destabilize the country and change the regime.
Iraq’s liberal cause has been greatly undermined and marginalized by governments, the ruling parties and their partners, including the Kurds.
The way things are now, the country’s direction is unclear — especially when it comes to its people’s prosperity, civil liberties, human rights and freedoms. Issues like federalism, civil liberties and freedoms are all disputed.
Although they are all liberal concepts and they are supposed to be sought by Iraq’s non-Kurdish liberals, they are being pigeon-holed into Kurdish demands only.
The Kurds cannot fight these battles alone. What we can see, however, is that the rest of Iraq is united against Kurdish demands.
The main reason for this is because the Kurds have distanced themselves from Iraq’s politics and limited their energy to purely Kurdish issues leaving their natural allies, the liberals, seculars and progressive forces for the religious dogmas.
Unless this attitude changes, and unless the Kurdish status changes from being a passive observer to an active player in Baghdad’s politics, the Kurdish issue will remain one that anyone in government can use to rally secular and religious support.

    Isam al Khafaji says:

    Excellent article Hiwa, I share with you most, if not all your conclusions>

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