Kurdish history: Leaders’ greed trumps nationalism

By Michael Rubin:

June 1 marked the 37th anniversary of the founding of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). While Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masud Barzani graciously congratulated PUK leader Talabani, bad blood between the two families and their parties is long, deep, and persistent.

The schism predates the PUK’s birth; historian David McDowall, whose A Modern History of the Kurds, remains the desktop reference for Kurdish history, details the development of factionalism in the KDP in the wake of the Mahabad Republic’s collapse.

The PUK was born out of the collapse of the Kurdish rebellion in 1975. While Kurds today castigate Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the Algiers Accord he brokered between Baghdad and Tehran, contemporaries spread blame more widely. While the KDP today memorializes Mullah Mustafa as a fierce nationalist, the truth is that Masud’s father often subordinated Kurdish nationalism to personal power. Mullah Mustafa’s agreement with Abd al Salam Arif, a fierce Arab nationalist who served as Iraq’s president between 1963 and 1966, omitted any mention of Kurdish autonomy. If Mullah Mustafa forfeited the Kurdish nationalist objective, in Arif he won an ally who threatened to turn Baghdad’s power against anyone who would challenge Barzani. Mullah Mustafa even accepted weaponry from Arif to use against Kurdish competitors.

Talabani and Ibrahim Ahmed were no less corrupted than Mullah Mustafa. When Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr seized power in 1968, both embraced the Baathists with whom they shared socialist roots. Talabani sang the Baath’s praises in the press three months after the revolution. He called the Baath “the first ruling Arab political party…to extend its hand to the Kurdish people directly, sincerely, and hopefully.” It was their turn to become tools of outside forces as they sacrificed Kurdish nationalism for personal power. While Talabani accepted Baghdad’s patronage, Barzani sought Tehran’s which was enough to keep him on top.

In 1975, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger effectively pulled the rug out from beneath Barzani. Mullah Mustafa, with young Masud in tow, fled to Iran. Ibrahim Ahmed disappeared to London, but his daughter and Talabani moved to Syria where, with Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad’s patronage, he formed the PUK.  The division simply continued the pattern in which Kurdistan’s neighbors compromised its leaders and used them as proxies willing to subvert broader Kurdish interests to ambition and greed.

Divisions continued through Saddam Hussein’s rule and even during the Anfal, as neighboring states used Kurdish leaders’ greed and venality to transform Kurdish parties into proxies in a larger war. Masud Barzani, who succeeded his father upon Mullah Mustafa’s death, had sided with Iranian leaders during the Iran-Iraq War, not simply out of animosity toward Baghdad, but also because the Iranian army was seeking to eliminate his rivals in the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran. Talabani, meanwhile, sought a ceasefire with Baghdad in order to protect the PUK rear while he sought to consolidate control in Kurdistan at the Barzanis’ expense. While both PUK and KDP condemn the Anfal, had Kurds displayed unity at the time, Saddam’s government would have been far less successful with its ethnic cleansing campaign.

In 1991, the Kurds finally received their chance at real autonomy. After a close election, the PUK and KDP and both parties affiliates decided to divide power along near even lines. However, money and a quest for power again got in the way. In 1994, the power sharing deal began to fray and full-fledged civil war erupted between the PUK and KDP. This culminated in 1996, when Barzani invited Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guards into Erbil to root out PUK elements that now were supported by Iran. Saddam may have harbored genocidal hatred to the Kurds and deployed chemical weapons against civilians, but Barzani believed his quest for power trumped such concerns. Talabani likewise hardly batted an eye at allying himself with “Hanging Judge” Sadegh Khalkhali’s brethren.

In the wake of the civil war, the Barzani’s—especially Nechirvan, as records captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom suggest—continued business ties with Saddam. They found themselves increasingly at odds with Turkey, however, which often attacked KDP territory as the Turkish Army sought to battle the PKK. While Talabani was no friend of the PKK, he grew closer to Turkey. After all, as a senior PUK official explained to me while I taught at the University of Sulaymani, the KDP controlled the entire length of the Iraqi-Turkish border, so whenever Turkish troops invaded Kurdistan, they would strike Barzani first.

When the U.S. forces occupied Iraq, Kurdish parties repositioned themselves. Both KDP and PUK sought to embrace the Americans from whom they believed they could extract the greatest rewards. In this, Barzani was more successful. As the KDP co-opted U.S. forces, some in the PUK again sought to reach out to Iran. It was in this context that Bafel Talabani found himself in such trouble as, according to sources in Washington, he reportedly assisted Iranian operatives who sought to kill Americans in Mosul. The PUK likewise decided it no longer needed Turkey. Qubad Talabani bragged that it was PUK intelligence that led to the July 2003 incident in which the members of the 173rd Airborne captured and hooded a Turkish Special Forces unit alleged to be planning assassinations in either Sulaymani or Kirkuk.

Today, Kurdistan is booming. Oil is flowing and foreign direct investment continues to pour in. Never before have the financial stakes been so high. The revenues from the Ibrahim Khalil customs post over which Barzani and Talabani fought the Kurdish civil war pale in comparison to the stakes from oil contracts. Barzani’s arguments with Maliki have less to do with principle than with cash. After all, if principle mattered, Barzani would think twice about allying himself with apologists for the Baath Party or, for that matter, Muqtada al-Sadr. That Talabani refuses to jump onto the Barzani bandwagon on this issue and instead sides with Baghdad is simply a continuation of the pattern of foreign powers using Kurdish leaders as proxy members in an outside battle.

The looming crisis for Kurdistan is not about leadership in Baghdad, however. While Western and Korean businesses dot the landscape in Kurdistan, the two economic powerhouses in Kurdistan today are Iran and Turkey. According to a recent interview in Hawler, the Iranian consul in Erbil placed Iranian trade with Kurdistan at $7 billion. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Trade Minister Sinan Chalabi put Kurdstan-Turkish trade at $8.4 billion in 2011. While the Iranian government initially welcomed the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), there is no doubt that Erdoğan’s confidence, sectarianism, and international involvement now antagonizes Tehran. Whereas Barzani has embraced Turkey, PUK officials like Kosrat Rasul have cast their lot with the Iranian interests — irrespective of Rasul’s own past grievances with Iran. Partisans in Turkey and Iran do not hesitate to play the decades-old Kurdish factional game.

Not all battle lines are yet drawn. While Nechirvan is involved personally in many Turkish projects, he also enriches himself immensely by smuggling oil to Iran. Unless Kurdish authorities are willing to divorce governance from personal business interests, however, the Turkish-Iranian dispute will likely reinforce old divisions. Kurds may blame their ills on division among four countries but the responsibility too often is with their leaders—Mullah Mustafa, Ibrahim Ahmed, Jalal Talabani, and Masud Barzani—who allowed self-interest and greed to undermine the broader Kurdish project.

Copyright © 2012 Kurdistantribune.com

46 Responses to Kurdish history: Leaders’ greed trumps nationalism
  1. Hamma Mirwaisi
    June 9, 2012 | 21:43

    There are many players in Kurdistan to sell Kurdish blood

    I wish he was writing about the US and Israel involvement too. Kurdish people are suffering because of the US and Israel policy in Middle East.

    Israel and the US are supporting both ruling families of Kurdistan. Dr. Rubin was one of the policy makers when Iraq was under the US occupation. Why the US and Israel is not supporting democratic system and rule of laws in Kurdistan?
    Since the collapse of Median Empire to our time now, Kurds starting with tribal leaders and after 1800 religious leaders and now so called political leaders are in business to sell Kurdish blood for making living. We can blame Kurdish leaders for our people misery but we should stop and blame ourselves, the Kurdish people too. Most of us are for sale too.

    Kurdish intellectual must stop the process once for all. They need to wake up and draft constitution in Europe and elect leadership to run Kurdish people affair based on constitution. We can follow piece of paper instead of individual otherwise we will in war for many generation to come.

    Hamma Mirwaisi
    Author of the “Return of the Medes”

    • Baran
      June 10, 2012 | 21:44

      No doubt, The US and Israel support the power holding parties. But they can do the other way round if the people in Kurdistan don’t stop voting for PUK and KDP. How can foreign countries do something against the two parties if the people are not rational enough to do the same?

  2. Observer
    June 10, 2012 | 03:08

    Kak Hamma great point. People like Michael Rubin indeed bring up valid points but the timing makes it all suspIcious. Michael Rubin will never mention the impact of Israeli hands in Kurdistan. Bottom line: no foreign country actually cares about the Kurds. USA has its own interests. Turkey wants Oil. Iran wants to neutealize Israel’s power in the region. Israel wants to use Kurds against the Arabs and Turks. It’s a dirty game but if course Michael Rubin will only mention what he wants to mention.

  3. Kurd
    June 10, 2012 | 04:38

    Michael Rubin is anti-Iran and for justified reasons. Iran has been a side in terror and instability in the Middle East for decades now. Our current Kurdish leaders have come to the feeling that Irn will never be tested ally for us. The Optimal alles for Iraqi Kurds would be the Sunni people, but they are currently being led by a bunch of boneheaded racist leaders so that not an option for the time being.

    Syria on the other hand is in turmoil and could fall in a civil war, and honestly they are not in a position to deend on. What is left is turkey. Kurdistan is surrounded by the aforementioned states and we just can’t isolate ourselves and escalate conflicts, as much as some people with foreign interests would want. Our current Kuridsh leaders have realized, and for obvious reasons, that our best chance is to get closer to Turkey.

    Turkey hs been heavily investing in Iraqi Kurdistan so they are not likely to directly cause any obvious damage that would in turn harm their trade and exports. With their European involvement, Turkey is much more likely to move towards human rights than Iran or Syria, and hence one more reason to get closer to them.

    Now, Kurdistan can use its oil power to force Trkey to also make some more advances towards recognizing the rights of the Kurds. The problem is that people like Michael Rubin, who is anti current Turkish government due to its conflicts with Israel, want to drag the Kurds into a hurricane of conflicts which really have less to do with the recognition of the Kirdish rights and more to do with the Israeli- Turkish conflict.

    Those same people who are publically pushing the Kurds to isolate themselves from Turkey, a lethal political suicide move, those same people used to have direct policies with the previous Turkish governments in the late 1990s And early 2000s, governments much more hateful towards the Kurds than the current one.

    I think it’s time for the Kurdish youth to wake up and not fall in the same traps their fathers fell in. We can’t have all our neighboring countries as enemies. Countries like Egypt or Israel cannot be our ideal allies because our basic daily trade doesn’t happen with them. Rather it is with Turkey and Iran. Let’s not be poker cards in the hands of any country, including Turkey, Iran, and Israel.

  4. Baqi
    June 10, 2012 | 04:53

    – Unfortunately, internal feuds and rivalries has always been tense among Kurdish political parties and in some cases, it has led to catastrophic outcomes ( civil war 94-98). Another contributing factor is the dependency and incessant, unjustified meddling by adjacent states into our internal affairs.

    Mustafa Barzani was a hero. He is one of the Kurdish nationalist fathers. He was betrayed by Shah of Iran and so was late Qazi Mohammad.

    The KDP controlled and controls the entire length of the Iraqi-Turkish border, but Turks can dream about invading or striking an inch of Iraqi Kurdistani territory.

    We live in a self-interest era. It is in the interest of Kurds and Kurdish leaders to not constantly switch alliances. It is better to stay loyal to their US and their allies counterparts.

    Kurds must also be willing to sacrifice some in order to gain some ( Economic and military Cooperation with the US in a looming war with Iran in exchange for annexation of Kirkuk and disputed region into KRG and independence . Just like the 2001 Iraqi war. Nothing is free.

    Remaining neutral is no longer an option. ” You are either with us or against us.”

  5. Observer
    June 10, 2012 | 13:22

    You are a poor mislead man. The Kurds have thrown themselves in the arms and hands of the US for decades and had the US ever backed the Kurds for Kirkuk? Are you really that naive to believe the US would back the Kurds regarding Kirkuk?

  6. Aso
    June 10, 2012 | 13:52

    “you are either with us or against us” hmmmm we have heard that before. I wonder who said it? Maybe Heorge Bush, one of whose policy makers was Michael Rubin, who you happen to get your ideas from. Enough of blowing the horn for other people. God, this game is getting old. Go fight alongside your allies, man, and leave Kurdistan out of it. The Kurds can ill afford involvement in a regional war with any of the neighboring states.

    • john
      June 10, 2012 | 14:16

      So you don’t want to hear from any non-Kurds, Aso? I don’t read anything in Michael’s article about involving Kurdistan in a regional war. Sometimes the historical truth hurts. I say this as an Irish Brit. Boy have we had some bad leaders in our Emerald Isle (e.g. de Valera signing a book of condolence for Hitler and letting the Celtic mullahs run the country) as well as a few good ones (e.g. Connolly, shot dead in his prime). But I’m not a Kurd so I best keep quiet …

  7. Aso
    June 10, 2012 | 14:26

    Voicing an opinion is one thing (and everyone is entitled to) but having agendas on the table and gathering Kurdish tongues to sing those songs in public is something else. Michael Rubin didn’t openly say anything in his article about Iran and a war, but the majority of his work is around Iran and he has been very vocal about a war with Iran, and we Kurds just can’t be a part in it.

  8. Hamma Mirwaisi
    June 10, 2012 | 16:43

    Dear Observer

    Our People (Kurds) survivals are miracle
    For over 2500 years we the Kurds endure lot of pain and suffering in the hand of so called Kurdish leaders instead of enemies.

    Many people (Scholars from Assyrian, Greek, Jews, Islamic Arabs and our fellow Persian from our blood) worked hard to erase our history and our symbol but we miraculously survived to our time.
    I checked with PKK, KDP, PUK, Islamist, Communist, Socialist Kurds and found out that history is not important for Kurdish people, Kurdish intellectual are not spending time to know our people’s past. How any one will be liberator when they do not know what they are fighting for?

    Is Dr. Rubin wrong?

    He brought up partial truth about Kurdish leadership based on true written document.

    Since the collapse of Median Empire to our time we Kurds never had independent country, we lose land every days without knowing where our boundaries was.

    We do not need to blame Kurdish leaders for our miserable life and our failed attempt one after the other.

    We choose the kind of leaders to bring us disasters.

    It is not Dr, Rubin’s problem; it is our problem the Kurds.

    What we can do about it?

    Running from the problem for our interest are not the solution.

    Kurdistan never had been without wars.
    We bring wars upon our people always for our own interest.

    History is repeating itself; it is not Baban and beni-Ardalan families. It is the era of Barzani and Talabani’s family’s standby for the result.

  9. Ari Ali
    June 10, 2012 | 19:59

    I really think the focus of Mr Rubin is on the overt corruption of past and present partisans , and i would not say leaders , in Southern Kurdistan as they also pursued their own personal interests as per this elegant historical narration , and our kurdish people have to pay a dire price for this greed . Now in the 21st century the grand father has passed on these ugly practices to a mashrooming siblings ! Time has come for people in charge of PUK and KDP to be stopped if they ignore public demand of true democracy , genuine elections , dismantling of all security apparatus and militia which is used to subdue ordinary kurds and mouth gauge them . Change ( not the party) but real change , peoples will , social justice and true freedom is coming sooner or later . Look at Gadaffi , Mubarak , Ben Ali , and Ali saleh they were loyal friends of US and the west . See their fate .

  10. Baqi
    June 10, 2012 | 23:45

    To: Aso

    Lets suppose we no longer throw ourselves in the arms and hands of the US? Then what? What is our next option? To turn to Iran or Turkey for aid?

    Had Kurdish political parties succeeded in overcoming their widening differences and formed a real unity government, we could have enjoyed the current extent of freedom back in 1975 or even earlier.

  11. ALI (Baqi Barzani)
    June 10, 2012 | 23:48

    To Ari Ali,

    Do you really wish to know the motive behind Michael constant critical views/articles on KRG?

    Answer in one sentence: To undermine KRG.

  12. BAQi
    June 10, 2012 | 23:51

    Another viable alternative:

    Militarize Iraqi Kurdistan ASAP.

  13. Dr.N. Hawramany
    June 11, 2012 | 14:13

    Nations deserve their leaders, those leaders are not extra terrestrials, they are products of Kurdish society, Kurds are very backwarded socially, they are number one in the world for women(Honour)killings, number one for FGM( female genital mutilations), they are mostly driven by tribal and clan morals, their loyalty is to their tribes and Aghas.Kurds are known through history for fighting each over material interests.
    Many of the atrocities the kurds suffered like notorious Anfal genocide campaigns (1986-1988)were directly assisted by kurdish mercenaries(Jash), Kurdish leaders have generally no trust in the ability of their own people and prefer to serve interests of their torturers.If tomorrow there will be elections in Kurdistan, the main parties are sure that they can buy the vote of their subordinates with money and climb to power again.The problem is in Kurds ourselves and not in neighbouring countries or other nations.
    A real craving among ordinary kurds for independence and living as an honourable sovereign nation is non-existent!

  14. K.I.M.
    June 11, 2012 | 17:14

    What the US ultimate strategy for S.Kurdistan?

    The US is fed up with Talabani, Barzani and Nushirvan.

    Strong detrimental partisan politics is a major hurdle in being able to propagate Kurdistan. The mindset of afore-cited individuals is obsolete. Their past and present animosities with one another will never come to an end.

    They all will soon be replaced in real democratic elections by a new generation of Kurdish leaders. That is the plan of Washington policy makers but not for the next 4 years at least. The timing is not right now.

    Qubad and Masroor do not enjoy public support as much as their fathers do.

    The US will first transfer the power to them, and then gradually chuck them out, as well.

    It will consume sometimes for this design to effectuate.

    Kurds be patient! Kurdish youths and students gear up for undertaking responsibilities

  15. Michael Rubin
    June 11, 2012 | 19:04

    I always appreciate those who care enough to leave comments, and the debate which this article has sparked is useful. That said, a few comments seem to over analyze the essay. The point of the essay is simple:

    As Turkey and Iran both develop significant economic interests in Kurdistan, the danger of history repeating is great as both countries may seek to buy Kurdish officials in their own proxy war. The greater Kurdish leader embrace unity and the less they allow personal business interests to color policy, the more secure Kurdistan will be.

  16. Nasir
    June 11, 2012 | 19:12

    What? Are you now the official spokesman for the United States? Or you have inside info we don’t know? Why do you keep bringing the US in as if our lives all hang in the hands of the US officials? Is this tbthe independence you are working towards? If so,mthen please move aside as you are no different from our current Kurdish traitors ruling Kurdistan. No one will have any say in the future of Kurdistan other than the Kurdish you, and no ne else.

    KIM should be standing for something else other than Kurdistan Independence. KIM please don’t be another foreign puppet.

  17. BAQi
    June 11, 2012 | 22:33

    Mr. Nasir

    Attacks against K.I.M. is on the rise.
    However, it is appreciated and always good to get/listen to feedback and hear differing views.

    Well,let me make it simple. Our position is clear.

    Our first and last goal is independence for S.Kurdistan at any cost, including confronting Iran and Syria which have never been the true friends of Kurds and Kurdistan. Let’s ponder realistically and be opportunist.Once Tehran, Damacaus and Ankara stand back on their feet, they will not put up with KRG growing clout, nor will they allow emergence of an independent Kurdish state for a split second.

    We are not yet in a stage to not rely on certain powers.Our slogan is self-sufficiency for S.Kurdistan and independence in every aspect ( Economic,military, political.

    It is better for us to be/cooperate with Americans than Iranians,Turks or Russians.

    Lets not forget it was the US that liberated S.Kurdistan. yes, of course, they had their own mission/ends but it was mutual, as well. Kurds gained something. We owe it to them. Did not we? Until yesterday, we were massacred by the very same so-called Muslim neighboring countries. Lets maintain what we hold and not destroy it for due to recurring intentional mistakes.

    Lets strike before we are struck.

    Some accuse K.I.M. of serving other countries interests. It is a prevalent wrong perception among some. We have predicted it, however, this is the beginning of an end. We are expecting more such baseless allegations. We could have been accomplice in the ongoing corruption and betrayal like numerous KRG leaders/officials and be owning/enjoying, as well, but those who personally are familiar with me, all are aware of the fact that I lead a very simple life.

    If we are pro-Americans, we have no hesitation to declare it proudly, not in contrast with KDP/PUK/Goran all of whom serve them but keep on refuting it.

    Besides, my views only reflect those of K.I.M. I do not hold any official capacity in any GOV.

    In sum: I strongly believe Kurds must sever their ties with certain unfriendly regimes ( Damacaus and Tehran) and not depend on ’em at all.

    If I were some one, the first thing I would do, would be shutting down Iranian, Syrian and Palestinian consulate in S.Kurdistan and immediately crate a fully armed, united, national Peshmarga Force, the most important need at this time.

  18. Karzan Sadoon
    June 11, 2012 | 23:07

    Enough is Enough!
    We,Kurdish people are frankly in a deep sleep and indeed we need to wake up now to see what a mess the current Kurdish policy makers made in our political life as a nation. If I bring back the bad memories of all we achieved under leadership the two political parties PUK & KDP.
    What are they proud of in their struggle for Kurdish people? Are they proud of the Kurdish Uprising of 1991 which subsquently brought a civil war and the result was to kill more than 5000 Kurdish by Kurdish between 1994-98. Or they are happy of the Division they created in south of Kurdistan which enjoying two administrations and two rule of law in a region called Kurdistan for more than two decates.
    Saddam Hussein was toppled completely in 2003 and Kurdish Peshmargah fought all along side by side with the American forces the so-called Kurdish allies and guess what our great achievement was to link Kurdistan back to the Central governement in Baghdad after 12 years of separation. This was considered a great achievment by our current leaders, Instead they could have made all political pressures in order to return the Kurdish separated areas from KRG such as Kirkuk, Khanaqeen …etc back to Kurdistan Regional Government. They could have united Kurdistan parts at leat in south Kurdistan if they had wanted but they did not! I believe that Kurdistan need change in leadership now rather that later because if we leave Kurdistan under the current leadership, it will not only repeat the old mistakes and wrong policies of the past but also our dream of a Kurdistan State will come to an end.

  19. Aso
    June 12, 2012 | 00:59

    What brought Palestine into this whole conversation? It is becoming more and mOre obvious you are ringing the same tones of the likes of Michael Rubin. While I understand Rubin has a dog in the Palestinian fight due to his Israeli allegiance (and I respect him for his devotion) but why are you bringing Palestine into this whole conversation? I bet if you ever (God Forbid) Hold a future position of power you would be the best puppet for Israel just like Talabani is a puppet for Iran and Barzani puppet for Turkey. I am glad you are not smart enough to hold your hidden agendas, that makes it easier for the innocent young blood not to fall for your agendas. Good luck KIM but you have exposed yourself quiet fast.

  20. Salah
    June 12, 2012 | 01:20

    Mr BAQI you remind me someone name George Bush. Same mentality fight arms military with us or against us. You don’t understand politics of middle east my frend.

  21. BAQi
    June 12, 2012 | 13:11


    I realized the motive of your posing so many questions at first. You think we are that NATIVE to expose ourselves? What do you know what is in our mind?

    Let me guess? Most probably U R a cohort of Gorran!

    Regardless of your political affiliation,I was aiming to prolong this conversation with you to see if you have a constructive suggestion to offer/make but except for trying to discredit us,nothing else.

    To: Salah

    Understanding the politics of Middle East? Well,All I know is Syria, Iran and Turkey do not understand the logic/language of peace and negotiation. That is why excluding S.Kurdistan, We have remained in the same point and place in our history of struggle.

    Barzani and Talabani were duped for 11 entire years.They could have declared an independent Kurdish state if they had proceeded wisely.

    By the way, I repeated see PUK and KDP names being mentioned. No indication to Gorran and its founder? How come?

  22. Aso
    June 12, 2012 | 15:46

    To satisfy your curiosity: I have no ties whatesoever to Gorran. I also think the current Gorran leadership and their founder are both as corrupt as Barzani and Talabani. In fact, the Gorran founder is a graduate of the PUK school and I don’t ever see him changing for the good. So, again, I have no affiliation with Gorran but I respect the fact that they were of the few to start rising agains the status quo of PUK and KDP, but as I said above, their leadership needs to change.

    Now, Baqi, you still didn’t tell me why you brought Paletstine into this conversation when it has nothing to do with it, unless you can somehow tie it up with Israel. I answered your questions and I hope you don’t run away from answering them as well.

  23. BAQI
    June 12, 2012 | 23:17


    Beg to differ with you that it was Goran who raised public awareness concerning corruption committed by the 2 major ruling parties. Credit should be given to the populace. Irrespective, there was going to be a social explosion in South Kurdistan because of the then circumstances but Goran pioneered it. It was further precipitated by external manipulation. And there will be another one on the horizon when trio (Talabani, Barzani, Nushirvan) must step down for good.

    Barzani bought Nushirvan and he is equally accomplice in numerous illegal practices. Nushirvna had a shinning inception but a deceitful conclusion.

    Re why citing Palestinians in my previous comment and advocating Israel and the USA?

    Answer: We must take a side. Either the US-Israel alliance + much of the western world or the Syrian-Iranian-Hizbulla-Palestinian-Al-Qadea coalition.

    Which one would you take?
    In either cases, we are puppets, according to you assessment.

  24. BAQI
    June 13, 2012 | 18:08

    To Kurds

    ..Michael Rubin is anti-Iran..

    The entire world is opposed to Syrian dictator and the theocratic totalitarian regime of Mullas in Tehran.

    KRG must dissociate itself from them, and not abet ’em dodge economic sanctions.

    The weaker they become, the better for KRG. The sooner they collapse, the more rapid Kurds in other fragmented parts can attain their rights.

    So lets not reiterate the past mistakes once encore. For a singly misstep by KRG leadership can cost us all dearly for decades to come and affect the entire status qua in all 4 parts of Kurdistan.

  25. Burhan
    June 13, 2012 | 20:58

    Kaka Baqi,
    are you a spokesman for Michael Rubin?

  26. Aso
    June 13, 2012 | 21:01

    I personally believe the Kurds tend to trust foreigners too easily and fall for them. Over and over, we fall for the same people with different faces. The British, the Arabs, Turks, and even USA. Anyone who thinks the West and USA can be trusted allies needs to look at the fate of Saddam, Mubarak, and even the Pakistani regime. Once you are no longer useful, you are discarded. I hope future leaders, such as BAQI, learn this.

  27. BAQi
    June 13, 2012 | 22:26


    You repeat yourself time and again.
    Apparently you do not analyze what I state.
    Why do not you go grab your self something to drink?

  28. Baqi
    June 13, 2012 | 23:20

    Kaka Burhan,

    Sorry for the interruption that woke you up! It is the opposite of what you asserted.

  29. Burhan
    June 14, 2012 | 14:48

    I am confused. You state to all Kurds that Dr Rubin is anti Iran and I curious if you were his spokesman. You said its the opposite. Not sure what you meant. regards.

  30. Mike Anderson (Baqi Barzani)
    June 15, 2012 | 13:35


    Why do not you become the president of Kurdish autonomous regime! You sound like you have great deal of knowledge and understanding of politics.

    I can tell from your words that you are not pro-American, as well.

  31. Hamma Mirwaisi
    June 15, 2012 | 18:56

    To Mike Anderson

    You really are coming up with great ideas. You think Baqi Barzani is going to replace Massoud Barzani as President of Kurdistan. Why not, look like he wants to be the next leader of Kurdish people.

    He always is speaking out as Kurdish leader in his writing; probably he is from Massoud Barzani’s families by blood. Who knows may be massoud Barzani’s family was once worked as servant of Baqi Barzani’s families in Barzan region.

    Indeed Baqi Barzani is more forceful than Massoud Barzani in his statements. He is making better President for Kurdistan.

    May be Kurdish people are going to vote for Baqi Barzani instead of Massoud Barzani in the next election.

    Mr. Anderson, as a Kurd, I thank you for your ideas. It is clear that power struggle is going on within Barzani family members for Kurdish leadership always. I will vote for Baqi Barzani instead of Massoud Barzani in next election.

  32. Baqi Barzani
    June 15, 2012 | 23:58

    To Kaka Hamma Mirwaisi,

    Are you suggesting that the entire Barzani clan is identical? If that is the case, then you are bigoted! You are judging me based on my clan affiliation, not merits.

    I never claimed to lead any one. My views only reflect those of mine and I reserve every right to express ’em. I have never sought fame and status in my life, nor am I inclined even if offered an opportunity.

    By the way, looks like you do not pursue the news but I do. I used to delve into your antisemitic articles on e-Kurd.net year ago.

    Just for your info, I was the first who wrote about corruption in KRG. When me and my brother launched a Kurdish-English newspaper dubbed ” Klawrojna, first of its kind in the US back in 2005, I filled the entire Internet with terminologies such as Kurds, Kurdistan, S.N.E.W Kurdistan, Genocides, and as forth. I do not brag about it. I performed my obligation as a Kurd to enlighten the entire world regarding my people’s agonies and anguishes.

    I have been a strong critic of KDP.
    Please do not judge people based on their kinship. If your opinions/criticism purely address me, that is different issue, but generalizing a group of people, I presume is wrong.

    You sound like an educated intelelctual. People like you must advise and guide the younger generation. We, the youths and future of Kurditan, have no tendency whatsoever to be indoctrinated old poisonous lectures that ripped part our national unity ( Soranism, Badinism, Jalalism, Giranism, Barzanism).

    Despite all the said, I deeply respect your opinion and do appreciate it.
    The rest I leave it up to readers to pass their judgement.

  33. Hamma Mirwaisi
    June 16, 2012 | 09:53

    To Kak Baqi Barzani and other Kurdish

    Truth Hurt

    Kurdistan Regional Governments (KRG) are controlled by Barzani and Talabani Sheiks family members.

    KRG are in control of Kurdish oil with billions of dollars, most of Kurdish intellectual sold their own dignity and pride to get some of that money.

    We Kurds used to be truth teller. Kak Baqi Barzani you are trying to avoid answering my question.

    Barzani Sheiks families members are considered to be supper human in KRG area.

    Massoud Barzani is coming from Sheiks family.

    Barzani Sufi families’ members are considered to be sub-Human.

    Do you coming from Barzani Sheik families or Barzani Sufi families?
    If you are coming from Barzani Sufi families then you are considered to be sub-Human in KRG region.

    You are condemned to be sub-human by birth, meaning you never going to be President of Kurdistan or leader of Barzani tribe.

    I Hamma Mirwaisi consider myself to be human and equal to Barzani and Talabani Sheiks families.
    I Hamma Mirwaisi consider myself to be more honorable than Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani because I am not corrupt like them.

    I fight bigot and bigotry in Kurdistan all my life. And continue to fight for Kurdish people freedom from internal enamies like Barzani and Talabani Sheiks and occupiers like Turk, Arabs and our blood related Persian too.

    I dear you to write and inform English readers (American and Kurds) that you are “equal to Massoud Barzani” as human being. And your families are not less than Massoud Barzani family class wise.

    Can you challenge Massoud Barzani in free election or not?

    Answer this question

  34. Baqi Barzani
    June 17, 2012 | 03:48

    I see eye to eye with every point you mentioned above.

    You are a citizen of Kurdistan and reserve equal rights. You are more truthful that most of them. At least, you are not involved in corruption.

    My only quibble of you is that there are roughly 5000 members belonging to Barzani clan. Most of them live in poverty. They have been subdued and repressed by the Barzani Shaikhs like others, as well. It is the president and his close family members who control the entire economy and politics, not the vast majority of destitute Barzanis.

    Just being a Barzani does not imply you are automatically wealthy, debauched or content with the status quo.

    We, the people of Barzan, have suffered the most. I lost 70-90 immediate relative of mine in “ Barzani Genocide”, a mistake committed by Masood and we ended up defraying dearly for. For decades, KDP has received tens of millions on our name from Baghdad.

    In 2011, I set off to Kurdistan and witnessed with my own eyes that some of Barzani families still subsist in lodgings with no roof. Rain easily could permeate and a simple wind was enough to blow it away. Of course, not to forget, no electricity and water.

    Similarly, there are hundreds of Talabanis out there. Not all of them are bad people.


  35. Baqi Barzani
    June 17, 2012 | 17:07

    Kak Hamma Mirwaisi,

    Re your question: Can you challenge Massoud Barzani in free election or not?

    My retort: I have repeatedly stated that I have no inclination in seeking fame or position in my life.I have a different goal. I love simplicity.

    I have no desire to run in any elections whatsoever, as well. Who am I and what am I compared to so many capable intellectuals?

    However, I would love to see fair and free election being held in Kurdistan where every Kurdish citizen should be able to nominate himself/herself for any government position. I firmly advocate the notion that selection must be based on ones merits, not tribal or political affiliation. Will the afore-cited allow that to transpire? It is not that simple I doubt it unless the masses of people or the US backs it.

    I sincerely long the US will support an independent candidate who is neither from Barzani, Talabani or Nushirvan’s family to eliminate the Father-to-son transfer of power once and forever.

  36. Hamma Mirwaisi
    June 17, 2012 | 19:28

    Thank you Kak Baqi Barzani

    I know Barzani people very well; the family of Hamad Agah mergasori is my relative. I understand how the Barzani Sheiks evolved from religious preacher to dictator like Massoud Bazani.

    I do understand that Barzani suffered a lot, I was promised by the US department of defense to rebuild Kurdistan agriculture but no thanks to Qubad Talabani and his agent they stopped that project.

    In my project I was trying to build dairy farm for women of Barzan and Helabja, the US Governments promised to fund the project. I was working with head of Colorado farmer union. He did have fifty years experience in building Colorado agriculture sector.

    Dana Ahmed Majed (Governer of Sulaymaniyah then in 2006) created problem for me based on order by Qubad Talabani (with advice of Dr. Najme al-dean Karem), they killed the project by accusing me to bring Jaff tribal leader to kill The US under secretary while I was part of delegation to visit Sulaymaniyah with him. That accusation trigged the US government to put me in the black list.

    I went to senators, congressmen and wrote the author of this article Dr. Rubin to help me, but all give me lip services and not willing to help me.
    I understand that Dana Ahmed Majed is one of the Goran (pro Newsherwan Mustafa) leaders now. He is hating Jaff tribe and now he want to change the Governments !!!!

    Thank you for taking time answering my question. Please stop defending dictators first.

    Our people are suffering because of all of us. I like to run against Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani in free election. I will send both of them and their family members to court of laws if Kurd elects me. But elections need money and support of Kurdish people.

    Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani are partner of American and Israeli in corruption. They are in control of billions of dollars and each one has private army, no one can defeat them anymore.

    They are very powerful like Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Only all mighty God can replace them.
    Dr. Rubin is not friend of Kurds. His group did not get oil deals from Barzani and Talabani like other American and Israelis does. He hates them because of that most likely.

    Kurds must have respect for one another and get united instead of hoping that people like Dr. Rubin will liberate them.
    Our people preparing to revolt, and hopefully they are revolting to establish rule of laws instead of following dictators like Massoud, Jalal and Newsherawin type.

    Read my book with open mind and try to understand Kurdish people past and help my dream for better future.

    Please send me an email instead of this kind of communication

  37. Nasir
    June 17, 2012 | 22:00

    Fact of the matter is people like Baqi claim they are fighting corruption in Kurdistan but in reality they are doing exactly what KDP and PUK leaders were doing 40 and 30 years ago, which is blindly follow foreign influence and be used as.a tool to fight other regional powers. Powers shift in the middle east and you just don’t ever want to be on the wrong side of the rope when it does change hands.

    Why is Baqi Barzani so busy with fighting anti semitism and advocating hatred towards the Arabs and Kurds and the cutting down of certain neighboring countries consulates, when in realit he should be advocating Kurdish rights?

    No one is anti America and in fact i love and respect their democracy, but you just can’t build your future based on the politics of USA, Israel, or even Turkey and Iran for that matter. According to genius Baqi, we should shut down consulats of any country that has any clash with Israel. Who cares about Israel and who cares about Turkey or Iran? You have to play the game of politics, which Baqi doesn’t seem to know a lot about. And finally, let’s ask Baqi, which US policy do you want to follow and advocate regionally? That of George Bush or Obama? Or maybe the next US president? Policies change continuosly and the idea of falling in the arms of any outsider is dumb and as dumb as what KDP and PUK did by thinking thenWest would stand by their side unconditionally.

    Its obvious there is a pre planned propaganda by certain lobbies to advocate hate and instability in the region and turn the iraqi Kurdistan into a war with Iran and Turkey. That would only serve the enemies of democracy.

    • Ramazan
      June 20, 2012 | 03:48

      Mr. Nasir

      In all your blogs you abstain from mentioning Gorran. I hope it is not on purpose but your works/opinions demonstrate that you are not unbiased??!!

      Who knows who you work for/with?

  38. Baqi Barzani
    June 18, 2012 | 02:54


    I am not perfect, either. Every one makes mistakes.

    Tell you the truth, I do not care whether you agree or disagree with my views. To me personally what matters is your level of knowledge and deeper understanding of realities. I do confess I am impressed by your post.

    That is what we must encourage to transpire in Kurdistan : Respect and tolerance of opponents voices/views. That is when we can achieve a better outcome.
    There are numerous intellectuals, activists and leaders out there. Why does KRG ostracize them just because of their conflicting mindsets. Get them involved and offer them the opportunity to further diversify and develop Kurdistan. Let not allow these talents be killed.

    I am not anti any particular ethnicity, race, religion or color. You have misunderstood that. We all have profoundly delved in to our elapsed history. We are conscious of how, when and who did what against our people.

    Independence ( Economically, politically, and militarily) and self-sufficiency is my motto. Realistically thinking, we are not yet in a stage to not hinge on any power, therefore, we must see where our interests are.

    My understanding is Syria, Iran and Turkey will resort to any means to hinder
    Kurdish independence.

  39. Kurd
    June 18, 2012 | 13:14

    Interesting that an article by Michael Rubin has generated 40 responses so far. As a Kurdish citizen, I wish Dr. Rubin was fair and unbiased when dealing with the Kurdish rights issue. Michael Rubin likes to portray himself as an unbiased academic person, but indeed he is VERY BIASED and that takes away a lot of credibility from his views and writings.

    When I read Rubin’s words and assessment, and direct war propaganda, it reminds me of the George Bush Era. I can’t help but get curious about a few things when I read the work of Dr. Rubin:

    1) When did he exactly start supporting the Kurdish rights movement in Turkey? Why has his tone drastically changed in the last couple of years towards Turkey and pushing the Kurds to rise up against Turkey, as if we just discovered Turkey is not good towards the Kurds? Can he deny that the recent Turkish-Israeli conflict has something to do with his tone?

    2) Michael Rubin stated after he left Kurdistan (unsatisfied) that he didn’t receive a salary from the KRG for teaching at the university. First of all, why should you be getting special treatment? Secondly, his salary and financial support for his work in Kurdistan came from the Carnegie Council for Ethnics in International Affairs, which is basically run by some people who are openly advocating Israeli policies in the region.

    3) Only a blind person who not be able to see the corruption of the Barzani and Talabani clans in the early and even late 1990s, so I am curious as to why Michael Rubin didn’t openly fight that when he first went to Kurdistan? Or maybe he had special interests tied to the abovementioned people?

    I think the Kurdish youth have gained enough maturity to see honest sincere love from fishy one. We want love and support that is not linked to any outside policy or lobby group.

    Finally, if Michael Rubin truly loves the Kurds and their cause, would he openly step up and support a democratic and Un-corrupt Kurdish government that deals in a peaceful way towards all the regional neighbors (Arabs, Turks, and Israel) without special preference to anyone? Or will he turn on them like he turned on his initial buddies Barzani and Talabani?

  40. Reza
    June 18, 2012 | 22:46


    In conformity with your thoughts, Kurds can survive on their own. They do not need no one’s support.Go study every Kurdish political party’s history. You should then realize who helped establish them and continue funding them. Starting from Qazi Mohammad, Mustafa Barzani, Jalal Talabani and the incumbents. I do not think you have any clue about how politics run.

  41. Nasir
    June 19, 2012 | 00:37

    you lost me there. Are you saying Kurds can survive on their own or can’t? In my earlier post, I was trying to say Kurds don’t need anyone’s direct intervention to survive and then spend the rest of their lives owing them their lives. Could you please explain your point of view a bit more. With regards

  42. Reza
    June 19, 2012 | 15:08

    You do not know yourself what you articulate and imply!

  43. Nasir
    June 21, 2012 | 14:31

    If I am with Gorran then nothing will stop me from declaring it. But I am not with Gorran. I am not with any party. This is our Kirdish mentality: you are either with us or against us. All the current Kurdish parties have corruption, including Gorran. Even the Islamic parties have corruption. But whenever a leader from Gorran or another opposition group becomes president or prime minister and does the scale of corruption PUK and KDP are doing now, feel free to crucify them in your writings. Noshirwan Mustafa is no different from the current Barzani and Talabani leaders. I am just a regular Kurdish citizen venting off. Enough of the conspiracy theory.

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