Barham Salih Was On The Wrong Side of Politics for Twenty Five Years

By Arian Mufid:

It was in the late 1980s that I met Dr Barham Salih, in London, during the demonstrations and seminars held against the former regime of Iraq as part of our national liberation movement. He devoted all his energies to organise and promote the Kurdish nation’s struggle for freedom to the whole world. Barham Salih was busy in London with the PUK movement and of course that movement has since changed enormously, not just with changing political circumstances but also with the involvement of so many newcomers. Barham was educated and fully qualified for his role as a person with key responsibility for the PUK’s overseas activities, but he had little power. These days we have people in authority who are not fit for their jobs but have a lot of power.

Barham grew closer to the families that effectively controlled the PUK and over time this association served to diminish his standing. In March 1991 the forces of Saddam Hussain and the Iraqi government were expelled from Kurdistan and the KRG was established the following year with the support of air cover provided by the allied forces. However, the ensuing civil war between the KDP and PUK set back the development of south Kurdistan for almost a decade. Barham Salih returned to Kurdistan during this time. For someone who came from so well-established a family in Suly city it is hard to understand why he did not take the necessary steps to establish his own platform and party at that time. He was well educated in the UK in the 1980s. He is well known for his dedication. While he was in jail in Iraq he managed to get the top score in the country in his Baccalaureate exam. But the PUK warlords always looked on him as more foe than friend because he hadn’t participated in the armed struggle. He has held several governmental posts, including as prime minister of the KRG, but the PUK leadership continued to see him as a liability not an asset for the party.

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