Last General Election trivialized by Barzani and Talabani

Kurdistan parliament building

Kurdistan parliament building

By Rauf Naqishbendi:

Election is an indispensable pillar of democracy, for it’s a championship amongst political candidates for essential public posts. It’s not a contest of popularity but rather an inspired aim embodying justice, economic, social, and political direction in the life of a nation. It paves the way for incumbents to be granted another term should they be reelected, otherwise transferring power to other victorious political entities. Elections constitute the concept of a political contract between rulers and citizens. Therefore, democracy has no legitimacy without fair and democratic elections.

Once votes have been cast, they will be tallied, and thereafter the winners of the election are announced. Defeated incumbents are to step down, and power is to be transitioned to newly-elected candidates for public office. At this point, the reliance is on the will of the nation as mirrored in their votes. Should any authoritarian forces intervene to alter the balance of power to illegally benefit any groups that would detract from the people’s votes, this would undermine the will of greater common good in favor of a few ambitious people who coerce others to achieve their own personal interest. When these unfortunate circumstances arise, the commonwealth feels cheated by the same thugs who robbed them of their legitimate rights, trivializing their votes of conscience. This is the exact situation happening in Kurdistan of Iraq’s regional government under the rule of two selfish and lawless leaders, Barzani and Talabani.

As it happened, five months ago an election was held in the Sulaymaniyah region, under the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The election was sort of transparent for the PUK was under scrutiny and public watch. On the contrary, the other region was under the control of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), which has been notorious for their abominable corruption under the leadership of Barzani’s family for more than half a century, who had forced the election into their favor through force and intimidation. The result is that PUK was loudly rejected in favor of Gorran, the reform movement.

Democracy can work when an established constitution outlines the powers of executive and legislative branches as such to keep the powers of the government branches in check and balance, so that one branch of government is not upstaged or oversteps the other. This would leave no room for any individual or any group to render distortion or disfiguration of what is the mass’ common interest. The appalling issue is that in this situation there is no separation of power. Each of the two Kurdish leaders, Talabani and Barzani, are the heads of their own regional governments. They appoint their cronies to Parliament, courthouses, high government posts, the army, and the police. Therefore, there is no guardian of the constitution.

Prior to the Gorran reformist movement, both aforementioned Kurdish leaders enjoyed the majority in their regions, and each had appointed about half of the total number of the body of Parliament. Thus they divided Parliament, public posts, and revenue amongst themselves. These two political rivals, who had their hands on each other’s throats for decades, found an effective peacemaker: money and power. It is so because both leaders had their own best personal and family interests at heart, rather than the interests of their people.

The election result must change the makeup of both of Kurdistan’s regional governments to reflect the people’s vote, which means power sharing amongst political parties in a way that each political party’s share will be proportional to its earned votes in the general election. In the case of Kurdistan, unlike other countries, the revenue also needs to be allocated to all participants of the newly formed government so that they can appropriate it to social programs in their jurisdictions. Besides, both the KDP and PUK have armed and police forces that they aren’t willing to relinquish. These are the great difficulties, as observed: the losing party is not willing to relinquish either power or revenue.

The election has been held; the people have cast their votes. Yet, the people’s votes have been trivialized. This saga will continue unless a comprehensive and just reform is rendered. First and foremost, there should be one government, and the divided house must be turned into a unified nation with one central government. This will erase the fear and risk of armed conflict and bloodshed between the two rivals. Second, there must be separation of power and authority in a way that none of political parties will have control over the armed forces. Instead, the armed forces should become a national army. Fourth, the revenue generated from various sources must not be funnelled into Barzani’s and Talabani’s family coffers, who have treated it as their own. Instead, the revenue should be stored with the Treasury Department and be appropriated as Parliament has budgeted it.

Last but not least, elections are vital to democracy, but an election alone doesn’t constitute democracy. The people of Kurdistan cast their genuine votes to bring about responsible leadership. Yet, their votes have been deliberately ignored. This will be a continuing trend going forward unless all participating parties assent to fair power and revenue sharing. But with all likelihood, Barzani’s and Talabani’s families will not willingly share either revenue or power, for they are creatures of self-interest not public interest, regardless of the change demanded by the people. Thence, the only alternative to bring justice and democracy is to topple these two self-centered leaders punitively as a remedy for their past betrayal, crimes, and atrocities committed against people of Kurdistan.

Rauf Naqishbendi is a contributing columnist for Kurdistan Tribune,,  American Chronicle, – 2011),,, and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times.

Books by Naqishbendi:

(1)   His memoirs entitled “The Garden Of The Poets”. It reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown, Halabja 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.

One Response to Last General Election trivialized by Barzani and Talabani
  1. Kuvan Bamarny
    March 16, 2014 | 11:25

    Toppling these two self-centered leaders is not the main problem that has become the reason of delaying the formation of the new government .The main obstacle and problem is past mistakes and mistrust that were made by the Kurdish political parties and different factions.
    By the way outsiders have a role in that conflicts and confusion.
    I believe If trust is build ,and if honesty and brotherhood are come first,and if Justice (Dadmandi) Kurdistan and Kurdish people (Kurdawari) development prosperity ( Peshkavten) become the goal ,slogan and platform of each Kurdish political party than the problem is solved , government is formed .Democracy and the votes of people were not gone away with wind ,and there would be no need for delay ,clash and conflicts among Kurdish people . Same formula applies to other political Kurdish parties in other three for parts of kurdistan.

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