By Rauf Naqishbendi:
Economic and social advances are embodied and enhanced in an environment of peace and security. Alternatively, social turbulence is a nesting ground for economic ruin, social inequity and shambles. There is no peace and security without a harmonious population; and a harmonious population cannot exist without constituting law in a way that civil society is uncompromised, civil liberty is warranted and the individual’s properties and rights are secured. All of the aforementioned facts are unachievable without scrupulous leaders who can energize the masses, roadmap the aimed destination, and outline agendas unambiguously. This is a necessary recipe for peace, prosperity, and civil society: ingredients which are missing in Iraq in totality.
Earlier this year disenchanted and disenfranchised Iraqis exploded, demanding political reform both in the south and north, targeting their wicked leadership, but Iraqi army and police forces fired machine guns on a crowd, killing hundreds of peaceful demonstrators. This was their means to silence public outrage.
Corrupt leadership will not breed a refined society but rather produce a disenfranchised, frustrated, and discouraged nation, resulting in a floodgate of social and political upheaval. So far, the Iraqi authorities have used machine guns to silent voices for reform. These leaders should be reminded of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafi, whose destiny will be theirs should they persist in pursuing their brutalities and wickedness, while public outrage continues to simmer. Ultimately social unrest will burst the levees of injustice asunder and bury these corrupt leaders in their injustices.
Since the toppling of Saddam’s regime, Kurdish leaders have been engaged in drilling oil. This has been a point of contention between the Iraqi government and Kurdistan’s regional government. The Iraqi government insists on its control over Iraq as a whole, while Kurdish leaders treat themselves as a sovereign entity. Upon the American disengagement, the Iraqi government thwarts the Kurds’ ability to exercise independently within the framework of a federated Iraq. The formation of a semi-autonomous Kurdistan region was forced by America. Arabs historically have been hostile towards the Kurds and against this type of arrangement. This means that, once the Iraqi central government is fortified, it will negate every deal Kurdish leaders have made with foreign oil companies, and the government will gradually revoke the Kurds’ semi-autonomous status, article by article.
An economic dilemma insinuated another dimension to the already tense political climate between the Kurds and Arabs: revenue sharing. It has no precedent in history and was an American forced plan. Power sharing and revenue sharing between Kurds and Arabs have never been a part of the Arabs’ sentiment, for they consider Kurdistan as a part of the great Arab world and the Kurds as their subjugated object. Therefore, contracts agreed upon between Kurds and Arabs with American influence will be nullified, resulting in an impending armed conflict, ethnic cleansing, and yet another genocide campaign worse than the Kurds experienced under Saddam’s regime. The Kurds will be at a disadvantage because they are locked between their four old enemies: Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey. Making the matter worse, the Kurds have no formidable armed military to defend themselves.
In addition to the above-mentioned challenges for the Kurds to surmount, there remain their two selfish leaders who sliced Kurdistan into two armies and two regions, not for philosophical or political differences – such as how to make real the Kurdish dream for independence – but rather for tribal pride (as with Barzani) and giant ego (as with Talabani). The self-interest, love of money, and lust for power of these leaders has overridden national exigencies, leaving Kurds with a dismal future prospect. However one perceives the Kurdish issue, the future is pitch dark.
Aside from the Kurds, the sectarian division between Arab Shiites and Sunni Muslims is at its pinnacle. Polarization between these two has its historical root going back over a thousand years. Sunni Muslims have been prominent in Iraq since its inception as a country, and they will resume their terrorism to gain their supremacy. The American administration in Iraq brought calm between the two through monetary payments to belligerent parties, and that is also subject to change and challenge.
Geographically, Iraq is surrounded by the most hostile countries in the region, another indignation upon Iraqis. Iran has territorial disputes with Iraq; they fought over it, and the dispute remains irreconcilable. This constitutes a perilous situation, as Iran can use this territorial dispute as a token for intrusions into Iraq’s territory militarily, should it fears its interest is compromised. Turkey is another of Iraq’s hideous neighbors with a flimsy territorial claim since the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish military has been chasing the PKK and trespassing Iraqi territory for decades. The Turks have been brutal towards the Kurdish minority; their genocide against the Kurdish population is decades old and in progress. The Turks are of the mind-set that free Kurds in Iraq will further encourage Turkey’s Kurds’ struggle demanding their national rights; therefore, it stands ruthlessly against freedom for Kurds anywhere in the region.
Iraq in its totality is inundated with problems beyond itself to solve. First is the problem between its two major groups – the Kurds and Arabs. The Kurds are divided among themselves into two regions and are a captive audience locked between their four major enemies: Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, not to mention the sectarian divisions between Arab Sunnis and Shiites. Then there are the territorial disputes between Iran and Iraq on one hand and Turkey and Iraq on the other hand.
Domestically, Iraq is in trouble because of the rule of tyranny and wicked leadership. These are all major predicaments tainting Iraq’s political and social stability and threats not only to Iraq’s security but also to its existence as a country. This leaves the Iraqis at risk of an impending deplorable annihilation.
America didn’t deliver on its promises to Iraq, and the Iraqis haven’t been good to themselves. Iraqi leaders are execrable, ignoring the well-being of the Iraqis. Time will determine the outcome, but time is not on Iraq’s side unless the people come together to overcome the odds against them. This, however, is predicated upon the Iraqis willingness to compromise, reconcile their differences, and declare their unity. The question is: Will they compromise? The likelihood is that they will not, yet let us pray they will.
Rauf Naqishbendi is a contributing columnist for Kurdistantribune.com, Kurdishaspect.com, American Chronicle, Kurdishmedia.com(2003-2011), ekurd.net,ikjknews.com and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times. His memoirs entitled “The Garden Of The Poets”, recently published. It reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown with chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein. It is the story of his people´s suffering, and a sneak preview of their culture and history. Rauf Naqishbendi is a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area.