We must not overdepend on any power!

By Baqi Barzani

The President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Massoud Barzani (L) was officially received by President Obama at the White House on Wednesday April 4, 2012. Photo: KRP
April 6, 2012

As usual, representatives of Iraqi Kurdistan Autonomous Region were extended a welcoming invitation to the White House. And as predicted, they were assigned a new set of instructions (Homework) and briefed about the US updated foreign policies in the region. President Barzani came more to listen than being able to actually set forth his people’s demands and the real conundrums envisaging Iraqi Kurdistan.

The US states behind-the-scene manipulation in Iraqi affairs and politics is becoming more evident. Kurds do not seem to hold myriad alternatives, as well. Iraqi Kurds must value and constantly try to reinforce their ties with world countries; by no means should they remain over reliant on any regional or international power, including their staunchest ally, the United States. They must constantly bear their own contingency plans and strategies in place. The US-Washington relations seem more one-sided and independent than mutually beneficial and Kurdistan Regional Government need to gear up for any likely scenario.

Denise Natali, a Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University and author of The Kurdish-Quasi-State: Development and Dependency in Post-Gulf War Iraq, in her recent piece published on EKurd.net entitled “Coddling Iraqi Kurds‎”, argues few intriguing points on recent KRG president’s visit to Washington and KRG-US relations in general that is worth of citing and responding.

She quotes” he United States has little to gain by creating a privileged relationship with the KRG. Not only would it send the wrong message to Iraqi Arab populations and aggravate communal relations, but it would create another cushion for the KRG leadership and dissuade political accommodation with Baghdad.

It is imperative to counterargue a few points:

Iraqi Kurds held numerous opportunities to unilaterally proclaim an independent Kurdish state in North of Iraq if it was not for the sake of espousing and promoting US strategic objectives or more bluntly wording it: “Following mandates from Pentagon and White House”. Kurds shelved propounding their own vital national interests in Baghdad. They constantly brokered among discrete warring sectarian political groups in Iraq whereas they could have exploited the burgeoning divide and anarchy in the country and handily gain the maximum out of it. Instead, they opted to rush to the aid of their US ally in an effort to help them thrive in their mission which was aiming to cobble together a virtually fragmented country. Iraqi Kurds not only succeeded to stabilize and develop the Northern part of the country into rapture for all Iraqi equally, but also played a key role in obviating a sectarian war which could have cost the US another decade of war and a more catastrophic economic meltdown. Kurds overrelied on the US tutelage and overestimated her assurances to ally with them in fulfilling their demands in Baghdad.

According to the author, the US appears more concerned about conveying the wrong message to Iraqi Arab populations and exasperating the relations than arguing the legitimate self-determination right of a nation, being the largest victim of peerless genocides for decades by one the most notorious dictators. It is worth citing that if it was not because of president Barzanis constant persistence, Iraqi Kurds yet can still unilaterally declare their independence, regardless of Washington or Ankara’s concerns.

In another part of her article, Denise Natali mentions: “the United States crafted a constitution that disempowered the central government and devolved large, although unclear, powers to the region. The constitution gave the Kurdish north financial largesse: 17 percent of the Iraqi budget as annual revenue or nearly $11 billion in 2012.”

To better elucidate this: The United States did not craft a constitution that disempowered the central government but rather, it was the KRG’s president who did not capitulate to Baghdad demands and pressure. A centralized system of government was never going to be approved by the marginalized majority Shiite and repressed minority Kurds which combined together, they constitute roughly 85% of Iraqi population.

As far the imbursement of 17 percent of the Iraqi budget is concerned, it cannot be dubbed a ‘privilege or a favor’. It is a long negated right of Kurds that they naturally deserve and reserve, including all other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.

.Concerning budget transparency and accountability to Baghdad:

What makes KRG obligated to account for its management of funds and providing evidence to Baghdad. If that is the case, then so should Baghdad explicate how, where and when it is apportioning its public monies? Except for Northern part of the country, which is ten times more stable security wise and prosperous economic wise than the rest of war-torn ravaged country, the entire Iraq is suffering from terrorism, soaring rate of unemployment, inflation and non-existence of basic services. 2/3 of Iraqi population cannot get adequate electricity throughout the day. Problems abound. Is this the free Iraq promised?

A dictator was disposed and another has been supplanted. The authors pointes to Kurdish sale of oil to Iran, whereas, she totally fails to cites Iranian presence and absolute control of post-Iraq, pro-Iranian Nouri Al-Malikis dictatorial government. It was the United States that coaxed Kurdish President to re-approach Iran for assistance. History has proved that the US only seeks and pursues its own interests and agendas in the region. Kurds have gleaned their lessons and must not depend on any power, including their best allies.

She alludes to Kurdish territorial expansionism: Kurdish territorial expansionism or should it be characterized as the US inability to mediate a negotiated settlement to reverse the deliberate inflicted damages (forceful displacement of tens of thousands of Kurds) during dictator Saddam genocidal campaigns.

Regarding the mention of extrajudicial detentions in "disputed territories” by the author: The US is portrayed apprehensive pertaining to Human Rights violations in disputed regions. What about the victimization of almost a million innocent civilians by terrorists since the inception of war? Is it is of a secondary importance? Kurdistan law enforcement agencies may detain suspected individuals but it is way better than allowing or inciting them to commit acts of violence or terrorism.

“Kurds in Turkey, Syria, and Iran will likely increase their demands for similar rights as their Kurdish compatriots in Iraq”, she says. Kurds will not increase but demand for their legitimate rights. The US will fail to achieve its democratization strategies if she applies a set of double-standards policies. There are 50 million stateless Kurds living in these countries under constant state of repression and denial. The US has maintained total reservation and indifference toward their sufferings. Turkey continues to commit the worst human rights violations. Turkey applied comical weapons against PKK fighters? Where was the US condemnation or reference to the subject?

Perhaps, KRG should re-asses its ties with Washington and more fret about its own priories, KRG must value and continue its engagement with every nation and country in the world, but it must never overdepend on any power.