Barzani’s gamble with Baghdad could destroy our future

By Mufid Abdulla:

Maliki and Barzani

Nuri Maliki and Masud Barzani

Erbil’s dispute with Baghdad, mainly over oil and gas, has developed to the point where the federal government of Nuri Maliki is displaying a colonialist attitude towards the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the people of the south of Kurdistan. It was Barzani and Talabani’s idea for us to be part of this Iraq which as been built, following the fall of Saddam, at the expense of our legitimacy and dignity. Now the Maliki government has deliberately withheld wages and other budget payments to the region for the last two month, creating huge pressures on the KRG and the people.

However, the economic pressure from Baghdad creates a two way street. By putting pressure on the KRG, Baghdad had engendered a hostile reaction from many people in the south of Kurdistan who do not want to wait any more and want Kurdistan’s independence declared now. At the same time Nechirvan and Masud Barzani speak furiously about the Baghdad government, saying its actions are illegal and criminal. We must admit we have the most sophisticated oil minister in Kurdistan and yet every day he is speaking to the press and telling the people of Kurdistan that we are going to produce so many million barrels of oil over next two or three years! This is driving Baghdad mad with jealousy about the relative prosperity of Erbil while Baghdad enjoys no progress, just massacres and tragedies day after day. But our nation needs a permanent arrangement and we cannot afford upheaval. Kurdish people have suffered too much bloodshed and elements of Saddam’s regime are still alive in Baghdad.

The Maliki government by its acts has shown its true colours to the people of Kurdistan and Iraq. Prime minister Maliki should think twice before carrying on with his economic war on Kurds. First, the estimated oil revenues of Kurdistan will be 50 billion dollar per year and so the economic consequences will be huge. Second, about two-thirds of Iraq’s jobs are now linked to the south of Kurdistan economy.  Maliki and  Shahristani have heavily invested in Erbil and, if they keep acting as now, their hands will be closed. Because of our history, for Kurds Baghdad is creating an alarming, terrifying scenario.

The two ruling Barzanis, president and prime minster, need to answer a lot of serious questions. How many times have you met the federal authority in Baghdad and why you did not get them to come to Erbil so that they can be grilled there by the prime minster of the KRG and the President of Kurdistan, who can then clearly put the case for being within or without Iraq? This is a very stressful and frustrating time for many Kurdish citizens with the news that their salaries for February will not be paid on time. But why did the KRG not make any provision for such an eventuality? Surely the income from the taxes raised on the Turkish and Iranian borders is not going into government coffers but instead to finance two political parties and the ‘fees’ of their loyalists and cronies?

Masud Barzani speaks about independence but why has he not prepared properly for this over the past 23 years? KRG ministers and politicians with near zero knowledge of the economy and finance management start blaming one another but we have neither a professional finance minister nor a central bank to control the supply and demand of money. In the next elections the ruling KDP will lose their deposits all over Kurdistan unless they can overcome this problem with Baghdad. Masud Barzani and his KRG are an embarrassment to the people of Kurdistan. The people want them to govern one nation but their politics are focused on narrow sectional interests.  They should bring more competition into the banking and energy sectors and stop favouring companies with ties to their parties. KRG leaders may speak of independence but their messages fail to inspire the people with a love of the nation. The KRG has a big image problem in negotiations with Baghdad because it is perceived as an adjunct of the privileged Barzani party. It is time to prepare for the next political crisis, this time more serious than before and aggravated by the KRG’s wrong policies.

2 Responses to Barzani’s gamble with Baghdad could destroy our future
  1. Lara
    February 26, 2014 | 12:15

    KRG and the ruling parties are so much behind for independence that even if they can manage financially they forgot about the disputed areas which are still under ethnic cleansing . There is no case for independence in South Kurdistan with a failing corrupt parties in power in every aspect of people’s lives and even in case of it happening there is no chance of survival since we are fully ruled by neiboring countries . Hopefully Rozhava will be the first part to declare independent Kurdistan.

  2. Lasse
    February 26, 2014 | 15:57

    Everythinghas its own time. Now is the time for the kurds to stand united and not becoming slaves again.
    The oil is the door to an independent Kurdistan and Iraq is much more vulnerable and depending on Kurdistans bona fide allowing transitgoods from Iran and Turkey to Iraq.
    Water is another dependency and it is just that the central government of Iraq is just corrupt and not worth of trust.
    I look forward to Newroz

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