Nawshirwan Mustafa’s first regional visit

By Kamal Chomani:

Nawshirwan Mustafa’s first official regional visit, choosing Iran as his first destination, underlines a critical period in Kurdish and Iraqi politics. Although the Change Movement had already revealed the agenda of this visit, it can be considered as the beginning of change to some political formulas inside Iraq.

The red-carpet treatment given by Iran to Nawshirwan Mustafa, the Change Movement leader, in the past few days demonstrates the Iranian will to maintain its strength in Iraq and to develop this by seeking an alliance with the Change Movement. It is a win-win game: Iran backs the Change Movement in Iraq and, in response, the Change Movement will be on the side of the forces that Iran backs – Maliki, for example.

Nawshirwan Mustafa met with Iran’s parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. His last meeting was on Monday with the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili.

After the 2003 Iraq Liberation by US forces, the US couldn’t keep a balance between competing Iraqi forces. In particular, in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Americans very obviously supported the two ruling parties without paying attention to the people’s criticisms of their rule. The love of Kurdish people for the Americans has decreased gradually since then because America has not shown any kind of support for the public. Surprisingly, because some American officials in Iraq have links with the KDP and PUK, they did not put any serious pressure on the KDP and PUK when they were committing all kinds of atrocities against protesters and journalists. After the 17th February 2011 protests in Kurdistan, the US didn’t speak out against the KDP and PUK when they killed dozens of protesters and injured hundreds. Opposition parties, journalists and civil and human rights activists called on the US embassy and US consulate in Arbil many times during the KDP and PUK crackdown, but their response did not go beyond a very weak condemnation.

Opposition parties have been disappointed by America’s lack of support for democracy in the Kurdistan Region, even though they have reportedly praised the regions ‘thriving’ democracy. Our people, even politicians, had thought that the US would never allow the ruling parties to stand against democratic standards. Meantime, they supposed that the US would do its best to prevent corruption. This is one of the main reasons why the opposition parties no longer want to wait for the Americans to assist in the process of change in Kurdistan.

In the Kurdistan region, each party has a sort of regional ally. The KDP has good ties with Turkey, the PUK with Iran, the Islamic Group with Iran and the Islamic Union with Turkey. The only party which did not have good regional ties was the newly- formed party, the Change Movement. Unfortunately, in Iraq, it seems that if a force doesn’t have a regional backer, it cannot do anything. This happened to the Change Movement during the formation of the current Iraqi government, when all forces got their share except the Change Movement. Masoud Barzani, the Kurdistan Region President, blocked the Movement from participating in the government.

Now that the Iraqi political crises have reached a peak, the Change Movement, which has been neutral so far, wants to play its role.

The Barzani-Malki conflicts and the unstable and bad ties between Iran and the KDP can be considered as one of the reasons why Iran is receiving the Change Movement leader so warmly. Although it might prove difficult if Barzani insists on withdrawing confidence from Maliki, Iran may ask Maliki-PUK-Change Movement to form a new government without the participation of the KDP. This might seem like an impossibility but, in Iraq’s politics, nothing is impossible.

The Change Movement and other opposition parties should not be excluded from decision making, as Barzani has done so far, otherwise no one will accept the decisions by the presidency of Kurdistan and the parliament. President Barzani has already asked all the Kurdish political parties not to build any international and regional relations without first getting a green light from the Kurdistan presidency. However, the KDP and PUK were the first parties to break this rule. Now, the Change Movement does so because the ruling parties do not listen to their own decisions.

The Change Movement leader’s visit to Tehran can be considered as a rare one because its agenda –  to discuss the KRG’s situation and Iraq’s recent political crises along with the tensions over the withdrawal of confidence from Maliki  – was revealed in advance.

All in all, in the Kurdistan Region regional and international relations have not been nationalized so far. Each political party has built its own relations with foreign countries. Nawshirwan Mustafa should address the nation after getting back to the country. In fact, the Change Movement should not have any relations with the regional countries. The Movement should not imitate the two ruling parties’ mistakes in building relations in which Kurdistan has become a victim. It MUST do as it has already done and put more pressure on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the two ruling parties, insisting that relations should only be conducted through national institutions and not political parties. Meantime, the two ruling parties, the KDP and PUK, must end their party relations with the regional countries. If the two ruling parties do not change their approach, then the opposition parties will be obliged to build relations on the basis of their parties because they have not been not allowed to take part via KRG institutions. Ignoring the opposition parties will not have a good outcome for the KRG. If the KRG ignores them in everything, they will pursue their interests and then only the KRG should be blamed.

Copyright © 2012

One Response to Nawshirwan Mustafa’s first regional visit
  1. Baqi Barzani
    July 4, 2012 | 02:39

    Reiterating the same misstep over and over: Knocking at the doors of Iran and Turkey for unjustified meddling in liue of cementing intra-party relations and ironing out our deepening internal discrepancies .

    Barzani waited for 10 elongated years and once the US administration pronounced its troops’s departure from Iraq, he promptly re-approached Tehran.

    Such leaders will never reduce their dependency on regiognal powers.

    I have pointed out numerous times before that the incumbent Kurdish leaders will never forget thier preceding personal feuds/party animosities.

    Unless a new generation of patriot and nationalists take over, do not expect any tangible changes in S. Kurdistan.
    S.Kurdistan is put on auction long time ago.

    If that is not what the US seeks to unfold, it should start endorsing independents with no past history with neighboring states.

    Whatever it is, do not pin the blame on the US for abandoning the Kurds , especially in such a critical juncture that Kurdistan’s energy sector is booming and KRG is forgetting who liberated them from the hands of brutal dictators.

    Russians, Turks, Iranians! 900 Turkish companies in S.Kurdistan? 22 Iranian firms just launched yesterday, according to KTV!

    No one’s fault. We belong perpetually to those mountains!

    Lets see where will KRG wind up?

    Excellent article Kaka Kamal Chomani!

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