The Kurdish dilemma

By Dr. Abdul Wahed Jalal Nore:

In ‘Republic’ Plato tell us a wonderful story….

People in the cave believe they are free, but they don’t see the reality of their intellectual slavery. All they do is watch shadows cast by a hidden fire in the cave, thinking that the shadows are reality. They are passive and accepting. They never turn around, never ask questions. They remain completely unaware of how blind they are. All of the sudden the single enlightened person stands up and dares to go outside to seek the truth. His eyes adjust to the light and see how wonderful the world is beyond the cave. But instead of staying outside, he decides to return to the others in the cave, to free them as well. What happens when he returns to tell others in the cave about the truth? The prisoners in the cave think he’s mad and dangerous; if he persists in talking nonsense, he’ll be killed. In the end they kill him…

In Kurdistan we are living in the cave. The shadows are our reality. People are an imaginary people. We are backward in every level of life. Our backwardness attitude is a major impediment to successful Kurdish individuals who can engage with the modern world. I call this as a Kurdish dilemma, in the same way former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad used to criticize his community. We need to get out of our dilemma and know the reasons of our backward attitudes. I just wonder how people during the election time vote for those imaginary leaders and imaginary political parties. Kurdish authorities have adopted the Baathist model, requiring party membership to guarantee university slots, qualify for the best jobs or win lucrative contracts.

The Kurdish leaders never tried to develop in their mind an ultimate target. They have never developed a conceptual blueprint that defines our path to social, economic, and political development. A true leader must have a vision for the country. Such vision or blueprint implies a clear idea of where we want to go and what we want to be. They have to have a plan to makeKurdistandeveloped, modern, and democratic according to our historic pattern, with our own distinctive ethical and moral values intact. We cannot become a developed economy or democracy or get our independence unless the leaders emphasize in establishing a fully caring and sharing society. We want Kurdish leaders with a human face and big human heart.

The problem with the Kurdish leaders is that they have lost the sense of organization or perhaps unity. Today we live in an era of such rapid change and evolution that they must work together, hand in hand, constantly to develop the capacity for continuous change and frequent adaptation, while ensuring that our identity and values remain constant.

As for the young Kurds:

When young people become interested in an issue, their creativity is instantly engaged. If we want our young Kurds to be innovative, we must discover what is important to them, and we must engage them in meaningful issues. The simplest way to discover what’s meaningful is to notice what people talk about and where they spend their energy.

I have been thinking a lot about the prospect for jobs in Iraqi Kurdistan. I’m going to offer some thoughts to young Kurds about how to be competitive in the emerging economy of Kurdistan. Lately I have seen many students getting out ofKurdistanto further their studies under the government sponsorship. Unfortunately, I have realized that they forgot to focus on where the jobs are. If you look at construction sites, for example, they are not only increasing in terms of jobs, but wages are growing and will likely continue to grow. So there are big bright spots in the economy. People should focus in on those areas of study and ask themselves what they can do within them.

Obviously, the single best way to ensure that you will have a secure job for the future is to have training in science and technology. If you are an electronics engineer or a computer science engineer, you’re going to have absolutely no trouble getting a job – not just inKurdistanbut anywhere in the world. I urge every single young Kurd to prepare you not only to be a scientist, but to be a scientist-citizen. You have to accept the responsibilities of citizenship in a free democracy. And those are great responsibilities and, because of the role which science plays in our modern world, we need more and more people who understand science but who are also sensitive to and aware of the responsibilities of citizenship. Be a good citizen even though life is not fair for you – get used to it. You can never change everything. Injustice still exists in the current society, so you should try to adapt. The people won’t care about your self-esteem. But they expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.  Your extreme self-esteem may make your job inconvenient. As Bill Gates says: “Don’t attach too much significance on your self-esteem as people care about your achievements rather than it”.

Dr. Abdul Wahed Jalal Nore lectures at the Academy of Islamic Studies, Department of Islamic Political Science, University Malaya

Copyright © 2011

5 Responses to The Kurdish dilemma
  1. Twana Nursi
    January 9, 2012 | 14:37

    Thanks doctor for these impressive ideas about Kurdish authorities and people. The point which i have thought to be the best from your article was that you tried to divide the responsibility of citizenship between Kurdish decision makers and ordinary people. Because, each of them may have different task towards developing the nation and their relations is interlinked relation. Both can struggle together because we may never have a powerful and develop country without having some sincere citizen!. In the other word, Kurdish people may never accomplish their dreams unless the tools for towards development should be provided by the authorities.

    Furthermore, young generation should try to educate themselves with the contemporary issues and science in the world and apply them in their own country. Kurdish Youth should take the leadership in that regard and try to lead the society forward brighten present and future by spending their time with fruitful projects.

  2. Dr. Mohamad Said Al-Hami
    January 10, 2012 | 03:00

    Thanks Dr Abdul Wahed for such an impressive idea. I wish that your leaders could hear your sincere voice.
    Dear Dr, beside what you have said, the Kurdish leaders must fight corruption. Your so claim (emerging economy of Kurdistan) is not real. There is no economy in Kurdistan. Thus corruption has dominated Kurdistan economy. Kurdistan is suffering from wastefulness and corruption. Cronyism and corruption have become integral to Kurdistan’s economy. Kurdistan economy is suffering from unemployment and inflation. School and university graduates competed for jobs in the government ministries and one report suggested that excess positions are created in the public sector, in order to reduce unemployment and provide jobs to these young people. Meanwhile, due to the construction boom, Asian and African labor is imported to do the manual work. Despite the flourishing of economy, the ordinary Kurd, who do not belong to any Kurdish political parties, are struggling to survive, while state money gets siphoned off into private pockets. The lack of transparency is remarkable. The budget of the Kurdish government based on the allocation from Baghdad is divided between the two parties-52 per cent to KDP and 48 per cent to PUK- but no fiscal data are published by the Kurdish Regional government. Two families control the political and economic activity of Kurdistan. The Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), which controls Erbil and surrounding cities, is headed by Masoud Barzani, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which controls Sulaimanya and surrounding areas, is headed by Iraq’s President, Jalal Talabani. Each party has its local government but more importantly each has its own economic arm. The Zagros group of companies is the KDP’s economic arm in Erbil, and the Nokan group is the PUK’s economic arm in Sulaimanya. These two families have direct control over, and involvement in, their two companies. Every member of the two families has a senior job either in the government, the security services or economic conglomerates which they control, while they are depriving the ordinary people..Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It is damaging to a country because decisions are taken not for the public benefit but to serve private interests. Corruption undermines good governance, fundamentally distorts public policy, leads to misallocation of resources, and particularly hurts the poor. Controlling it is only possible with the cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders in the integrity system, including most importantly, the state, civil society, and the private sector In Kurdistan, the prevalence of corruption has been acknowledged by your Government and but until now they never take any steps to prevent it, let alone to eradicate it. Anti-corruption legislation has been enacted, an Anti-Corruption Agency established , but unfortunately by the same corrupt people. The spread of corruption, incompetence, malpractices, abuse of power, fraud and other unethical behavior as well as the lack of work motivation, have been attributed to the decline in integrity among individuals, organizations and society at large. That’s why my dear Dr, until now you were not able to achieve your independence Kurdistan…

  3. Zeravan
    January 10, 2012 | 15:11

    It is a good artical, and it is the nice expression about the Kurdish situation, but there is hope regarding new generation, they think differnelly and will act differently,. i think

    Good Efforts Dr

  4. Dr. Abbas
    January 10, 2012 | 21:10

    Dr. Abdul Wahid,

    Thank you for making me aware of this article of yours, it shows how much you care about your society back at home while living abroad. As you quoted Tun. Dr. Mahathir renowned wording in your title “the Kurdish dilemma” in defining the sickness, I will be impatiently awaiting for a future article that forms its title from Martin Luther King’s famous speech “I Had A Dream” where you describe the remedy.
    However, I was quite confused when you talked about the young Kurds saying: “…and we must engage them in meaningful issues. The simplest way to discover what’s meaningful is to notice what people talk about and where they spend their energy.”
    I am afraid that is not the optimum way. What we want them to engage with would, with overwhelming probability, not be analogous to what they are talking about. Nowadays, most of our youth’s topics are not something of pride requiring more engagement. Rather drifting them from those talks to something more useful would be a better way of tackling the problem.
    Finally, I admit that many of our people/leaders will be in need to the blueprints you prescribed herein. Well done!

  5. Kuvan Bamarny
    January 12, 2012 | 04:06

    Kurdish poeple are not to be blamed for falling behind compared to the rest of the developed world,as living under the authoritative , oppressive megalomenic regimes,was not easy to get access to educations and hence flourish your talents and capabilities.
    As far as te history goes, Kurdish poeple were alwayes held backwords and were forced to work for others rather than work for thier own lives.
    In kurdistan many poeple still live with tradtional beliefs.They take this life as a temporarl journey that is not worth it to work for harder or extra hours inorder to achieve a wordly goal.To them the menng of life is surviving rather then to fight for life or live a luxourious modren life. As long as they have shelter ,food , clothing and some income ,that is it , thats what life is about.then are doing all good and thats the whole point of life to them.It is a social issue and the government need to treat it
    and change the mentality of the poeple by Counceling, educating ,and financially supporting them specially on young generation.

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