Kurdish officials need a code of conduct

Michael Rubin

By Michael Rubin:

In April 2013, a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation consisting of Falah Bakir, Fuad Hussein, Qubad Talabani, and Ashti Hawrami visited Washington, DC, for a series of meetings at universities and think tanks. While the KRG press release exaggerated attendance—both in terms of audience numbers and their own presence (often only one or two of the four showed up for presentations in which they all had promised to attend), the delegation was nevertheless well-received.

There is a reason for the positive reception given by the private or non-profit sector to any KRG delegation: Whereas once Kurdish politicians would come to Washington asking for money, now that Iraqi Kurdistan is oil wealthy, the situation is reversed. KRG officials regularly receive requests for cash when they travel abroad. Former American officials from both the Bush administration and President Obama’s first term seek a cut of oil deals. The KRG has mastered the art of stringing oil suitors along in order to extract as many favors as possible before closing any deal.  The same treatment holds true for American institutions which ask for cash. Universities offer Barzani chairs in exchange for million dollar donations but are expected to accept the children of Kurdish leaders. During the KRG’s April meetings in Washington, one think tank asked Fuad Hussein, chief-of-staff to Iraqi Kurdistan President Masud Barzani, for a large donation which they suggested would further programming sympathetic to Kurdistan and its energy industry. Rather than say yes or no, Fuad Hussein suggested that the think tank hire his daughter as a summer intern, never mind that the deadline for the application had passed. The think tank made an exception and hired Fuad’s daughter.

That might seem like wasta to many Iraqis, but it symbolizes a pernicious corruption that permeates Kurdish political culture and is, unfortunately, enabled by some American institutions. The daughter got the job effectively on the promise of a donation. If the KRG follows through with its donation, then Fuad effectively bought a job for his daughter not with his own money, but with KRG funds. The optics of the event play as poorly in Washington as they do in Erbil, as they reinforce the image of nepotism and corruption with which Kurdistan is now associated.

The past decade has been good to Kurdistan. Before Saddam’s ouster, Kurds lived under double sanctions, first those imposed by the United Nations Security Council upon Iraq and then by the Iraqi central government against Kurdistan. Young Kurds regularly paid human smugglers to take them to Europe where, at best, they would find menial jobs and languish in public housing far away from their families and social networks. Opportunities are better in Iraqi Kurdistan now, but Kurdish universities still produce far more educated and able graduates than available jobs. Studying abroad is possible for a new generation of Kurds in a way their parents could never have dreamed, but the process remains beset by political corruption. Membership in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) too often still trumps grades and ability.

If Kurdistan is to advance and mature, it is long past time that the KDP, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Gorran Movement, and any other party represented in parliament agree to a code of ethics. No government official should seek personal favors while on official business nor should they trade KRG resources for family benefit. Party leaders should not seek U.S. green cards for their sons while meeting with American diplomats or intelligence officials, not should any official ask those seeking Kurdish business to hire sons and daughters first. Perhaps rather than donating KRG funds to private think tanks or to name chairs in foreign universities, the KRG might instead utilize the money to establish a scholarship fund for those who apply and are accepted to accredited foreign universities. Other funds might support internships which are often as valuable if not more so than classwork. Broadening the experience and maximizing the educational potential of Kurdish students can only benefit Kurdistan. This will only happen when codes of conduct for KRG officials prioritize serving society rather than individual families.

Copyright © 2013 Kurdistantribune.com

14 Responses to Kurdish officials need a code of conduct
  1. Kuvan Bamarny
    December 28, 2013 | 08:03

    When greed and selfishness over come mercy love and care, conscious become blind , virtue and duty ethics die , code of conduct become meaningless in the minds and hearts of narcissistic ,megalomaniac individuals.

  2. Kurdish Peshmarga
    December 28, 2013 | 17:27

    Obamas corrupt admin is responsible for all this mess. Press charges against Obamas corrupt admin senior members and charge them with supporting corruption in KRG and Iraq.

  3. Baqi
    December 28, 2013 | 21:21

    You are talking to deaf ears here! The more exposure of corruption and humiliation of Kurdish leaders in press, the more they will be emboldened to commit wrongs. Knowing that their reputation is tainted worldwide now, they will even stop doing the little favors ( Basic Services) once they used to. Barzani is aware his days are numbered anyway, so why not to embezzle. Take advantage of the time. Public is fed-up! There is only one solution here: All senior leadership must step down! Reshuffle the entire government. We submitted hundreds of suggestion to KRG. All we see is false counter-propagandas on Kurdistan TV and Kurd sat. Citizens continue to complain that nothing has changed or been done in reality. They are all busy making deposited and wires to their personal accounts in foreign states. Place the blame on Obamas Admin for not ordering to get rid of them. This shall be one of the biggest misstep during his admin.

  4. Ari Ali
    December 29, 2013 | 14:28

    Falah Bakir, Fuad Hussein, Qubad Talabani, and Ashti Hawrami …Have been the sole delegate for a decade now . These are puppets and muppets of the american administration . When their time come they will be no better than Gddafi and Saddam henchmen . By the way look at Saif Gaddafi fate , he hs phd from LSE london and tony blair proofread his thesis .

  5. Suleiyman
    December 29, 2013 | 14:51

    I agree with the issue of corruption and it’s really nothing new. We all know it exists and that these officials need to go. Now that this is clear, I wonder about two things:
    1) why a former Bush advisor is pointing out these issues during the Obama time while he stayed quiet on a lot worse corruption deals that happened during the Bush era!!!
    2) Those posters who blindly come out and simply say Obama is to be blamed for the corruption if Kurdish officials! Are you guys just repeating what you remote control higher authorities are putting in your naive heads? Baqi and the author of this article have a very close tie so I am really not surprised to see the same tone! It bothers me when people just say stuff they have no clue about! Do you really think Obama should leave all the major issues on his hand and go after ties between some no name Kurdish official making a deal with a private university?? This is something Barzani needs to investigate and control. Get rid of your political biases. I just want to know, isn’t this the same Baqi Barzani who claimed a revolution in Kurdistan last year and how he was soon going to move to Kurdistan along with his comrades to carry on the movement!!!!

  6. John
    December 29, 2013 | 15:30

    Barzani KDP, Erdogan AKP, and Obama’s Admin are all guilty here. Take them all to the court on corruption charges. I personally did not expect it from Washington. I agree with Ari Ali that such corrupt individuals would not last if they don’t enjoy the backing of USA. How can a country brags about its Human Rights Record, Democracy, Integrity, and intentionally turn a blind eye to all injustices? Hypocrisy and Double-standards.I am afraid if its goes on like this, Americans troops will no longer be welcome in Kurdistan, too. Anti-Americanism will increase .

  7. Baqi
    December 30, 2013 | 02:36

    Suleiyman: I got a pending case versus the entire Obamas admin which has nothing to do with corruption at all! It has not yet been investigated. Apparently, some US Gov. Elements are involved here trying to bury it for whatever reasons. I am still waiting to hear from them. I hold solid evidence to substantiate my statements in the court of law. I don’t bluff. I got plenty of time.

    Yes, Obamas flawed leadership is to be partially blamed. For if it’s not due to his admins support, numerous corrupt KRG officials would not stay in office today. He changed his mind in the last minutes. Whether it was a join KRG-Washington fabricated scenario to identify and subdue the opposition or not, he should have ordered the eviction of all corrupt individuals. He will surely regret that blunder but it’s just the matter of time. Up to date, no one dares probe into all funds collected from customs, illegal oil smuggling, 17% budget, etc in South that we all witness with out own eyes. Either Washington is accomplice here, or it indirectly encourages it. In either case, it is unethical and unexpected from Washington.
    Our people are not blameless, either. Apparently, they approve of the status qua otherwise they would not remain silent.
    We maybe novice, we are not that naive.
    Two things I will never forget from two Kurdish authors: 1) Democracy is pizza. That implies US values are BS. I have personally lost faith in them.2) It’s not Independence but Oil Revenues Stupid! Indeed, that is why we have failed to achieve our independence so far. Should President Barzani adopt the post of presidency in Iraq and some informed citizen replaces him, we might see some tangible changes. What bothers me the most is when Kurdish leadership willfully misleads our innocent people? If one is unable to deliver a promise, better to come clean and say the truth to public. We will continue to promote and advocate independence to the last second. I am not going to promise we will succeed 100% but we can always pave the way for subsequent comers. THE MOVEMENT IS KNOWN TO THE WORLDE! The logo with the slogan of independence is the biggest ad itself! Millions have seen it! We have plenty of brilliant ideas but lack of support. No group is willing to back us! Expect changes in spring!

  8. Aria
    December 30, 2013 | 19:59

    Is it true that corrupt Obamas admin seeks to boost US economy at the expense of corruption?

  9. Karox
    January 1, 2014 | 01:24

    Baqi says nothing but the truth. He has extensively covered corruption in Kurdistan, especially against Masood. He also published numerous footage on YouTube. He probably has something to reveal about corruption in USA. He may be aware of something we don’t know. That is why they are trying to silence him. I know where he lives and what he does and what he has. He is trying to convince Obamas administration to not support corruption and corrupt officials. Another reason he may be disliked is he is consistently pushing and advocating independence which Kurdish Billionaire leaders dare not even mention it nor does Obamas Administration supports.

  10. Ahmad
    January 6, 2014 | 02:53

    Does the US has code of conduct. killled millions for oil. change good regime. help bad leaders kings like Saudi, Gordan, Iran, I don’t believe you!

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