Nechirvan Barzani’s association with media corruption … the Rudaw Company as an example

Kamal Chomani

By Kamal Chomani:

Financial corruption is a web-like network covering all corners of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and governmental institutions. Another, less discussed, kind of corruption is media corruption. Surprisingly, the partisan and shadow media are getting huge monthly budgets although they serve only the will of political parties, not the nation.

In Southern Kurdistan, there are four different types of media with different strategies and policies. The first is the partisan media: Almost all political parties possess theirs, especially the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which both own huge mass media outlets. The second is the opposition media, owned by opposition parties, such as the Wusha Company of the Change Movement. The third is the private media, which comprise Awene Newspaper, Hawlati Newspaper, Lvin Magazine and a few others. The fourth is the shadow media  which are affiliated to either the KDP or PUK.

The KDP and PUK have dozens of media outlets, including satellite TV stations, newspapers, news agencies, magazines, websites and so on. Apart from their mouthpiece, partisan media, the two ruling parties have founded a new variant: the shadow media. Basically, the shadow media are either affiliated to the KDP or the PUK but they define themselves as ‘private’.

The partisan media’s role is to provide untrue stories and even brainwash people’s minds. Meantime, the shadow media works to weaken the private media’s discourse on one hand, while attacking opponents of the party they are affiliated to on the other. In fact, the shadow media is the more dangerous because they work behind masks. Although the private media has tried to unveil these masks, the shadow media are still working hard to mislead the public and give their audiences fake information.

The Rudaw Company is one of the shadow media companies affiliated to the KDP or, more precisely, to Nechirvan Barzani, the KDP’s deputy president and the current Premier. This company is one of the biggest, and the recent allegations about it getting 30 million dollars from oil revenues for a new TV station, prompts me to write about it.

Rudaw owns a weekly newspaper in Sorani which has a circulation of 3,000 per issue; a website in two languages, Kurdish (Sorani and Kurmanci) and English; a Kurmanci version of the newspaper which is published in Europe; and a satellite TV station which is going to start broacasting in the coming months.

Rudaw has a huge budget from the government, more than any other media company. According to different sources, before the foundation of the TV station, it had more than 65 million Iraqi Dinars, aside from the money it gets from Nechirvan Barzani himself. This budget doesn’t include other funds from different party sources. The company has enjoyed this budget since its foundation. Surprisingly, when the PUK’s Dr Barham Salih was on his two year term of premiership, he cut the budget of many media outlets, but he couldn’t cut even a penny from the Rudaw Company, even though it opposed almost everything he did.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, almost all senior KDP and PUK politicians have their own media outlets to attack their opponents. The strange thing is that all such outlets get funded by the government. The circulation of such media outlets has never overtaken the private media. At the same time, the private media have faced all kinds of difficulties, even the deaths of two young journalists. The private media has worked hard to fight against corruption and support freedom and freedom of speech and democracy.

Recently, a source very close to the Change Movement told me that, during his visit to Nawsherwan Mustafa, the leader of that movement, Ashti Hawrami, the KRG Minister for Natural Resources, told him that the new Rudaw TV station has got 30,000,000 USD from oil revenues.  I have met with denials about this claim, but there is a big question about where Rudaw has got the money from to found a TV station which simply needs millions of dollars!

The allegation became more doubtful when Nechirvan Barzani, PM, denied it in response to a question raised by Hawlati Newspaper in its last interview with him.

Barzani told Hawlati: “This project has not enjoyed any help with oil and government money.”

But the big question is: With what money has Nechirvan Barzani funded this project?

Barzani told Hawlati that the era of the shadow media is over. So he confirmed that such media has existed and they have been given money from the public budget. Now he has understood that this budget should be cut.

Another big question is: Where does Rudaw get its huge funding from?

I should quote the founder of Rudaw, in one of his interviews following his resignation, to reveal more about the company’s corruption.

Noreldin Waisy, the publisher and founder of Rudaw, resigned more than a year ago over allegations of corruption and interference by the KDP and Nechirvan Barzani’s office into Rudaw’s operations. In an interview with Hawlati newspaper, Waisy revealed that Rudaw belongs to Nechirvan Barzani, and that he sometimes gives orders to the editor of Rudaw, Ako Muhammed, to publish certain articles favoring himself and his KDP party.

Waisy accused Ako Muhammad, the editor of Rudaw, of keeping the monthly budget of Rudaw newspaper – which is around 100 thousand US dollars – at his home. Muhammad has also been accused by Rudaw’s founder , and by many other Kurdish media outlets, of receiving three pieces of lands in Erbil from the KDP and of drawing a monthly teacher’s salary, even though he has not taught for more than 10 years.

While the Change Movement is criticizing the two ruling parties and the KRG over corruption, surprisingly some high-profile Change MPs, such as Adnan Osamn, are regularly writing for Rudaw. In addition, eyebrows have been raised at the fact that some well-respected foreign, American and European, writers and personalities – such as the British Counsular General in Kurdistan Mr. Chris Bowers, the British MP Gary Kent and the American writer David Romano – write weekly columns for Rudaw. It seems they are not aware of the huge corruption scandal concerning the company. I am not against writing for Rudaw, but these people often write against corruption: If shadow media is not a huge corruption, what is?

Since, as I have already quoted, Nechirvan Barzani has recently denied that Rudaw received $30 million in funding from oil revenues, we should be told how the TV station is going to provide the money for the salaries of its staff which are incomparable to the other media outlets in Kurdistan.

The shadow and the partisan media budgets should be cut completely. This is a clear corruption and an unjustifiable waste of the public budget. These kinds of media are only seen in authoritarian countries. The shadow media and partisan media are two devils in society. We should put an end to them, without question, if we want to develop our democracy and media.

Copyright © 2012


19 Responses to Nechirvan Barzani’s association with media corruption … the Rudaw Company as an example
  1. bsma
    June 4, 2012 | 18:46

    its nice subject

  2. Baqi Barzani
    June 4, 2012 | 21:19

    Dast Khosh writer. Now it is coming to light that our whole economy, military, media, and politics is controlled by internal or external elements.

    Bidezin Mali Balasha. WHY NOT?

  3. Observer
    June 5, 2012 | 18:07

    Look at what happened to Mubarak and his sons. No one escapes from judgement.

  4. Ari Ali
    June 5, 2012 | 19:57

    Thanks KT for raising awareness of such important issues . To be honest radical change is long overdue in Kurdistan . 50/50 and attempt to monopolise power wealth and trade within two families is not only not fit for purpose , as a good sector of young kurds is now highly educated and have live experience of true democracies / accountability in Europe , but also will lead the nation to a big problems . Would Barzani and Talabani families ever envisage giving up power and let young educated technocrate people to serve the nation best interest ? So what democracy and freedom we are talking about ? Until when we will remain slaves of 50/50 ?

    • K.I.M.
      June 7, 2012 | 00:22

      Ari Ali
      Radical change is long overdue in Kurdistan, but not by Change Movement ( Gorran), as well.

  5. Ari Ahmad
    June 5, 2012 | 23:40

    Well done, a very good article. Rudaw also funds and runs Le Monde Diolomatic in Kurdish. You might scan it to diagnose political articles in it. Dr Nazand Bagikhani is in charge of its Sorani copy.

  6. Kurd
    June 6, 2012 | 03:55

    Let’s first see if Barzani will be willing to follow his claims of democracy and constitution by not electing himself again next year. Or will he declare an imaginary state of emergency and delay elections?

  7. farhan
    June 6, 2012 | 15:10

    Rudaw is funded and run by CIA, not KDP. Do more accurate probing in this regard.

  8. Harold
    June 6, 2012 | 19:01

    This is not true, Rudaw is sponsored by MIT in Turkey, everybody should know this. Years ago when this staff was working for Midia already members of MIT such as Emre Taner had good relations.

    Smart Turkish plan though, make it look like just another KDP newspaper.

  9. K.I.M.
    June 8, 2012 | 03:20

    06/07/2012 10:25 P.M. US Eastern Time

    Iran’s Unmanned Arial Vehicles ( UAV) noticed flying over Iraqi Kurdistan’s territories collecting intelligence.


  10. Observer
    June 8, 2012 | 16:48

    It would be good if you mention the source of your news. At least a hint if where you the news from. Just a thought.

  11. Karzan Sadoon
    June 8, 2012 | 18:40

    I think time is up for the two political parties in Kurdistan and they must go and this is the only solution. “Because” it is an example of a “human-body” when the heart inside is aching , it will be affecting all other parts of the body and the body falls ill. SO the heart of our political constitution have been affected by a deadly virus of corruption very badly and therefore all other public sector departments such as media have been inffected too. There is only one solution for Kurdistan political crisis, which is to kill the virus and the only way to do this is to get rid of the inffected bodies in Kurdistan political system Then we can talk about a free media the fourth power in the society without corruption. The good news is that we have already found the inffected bodies in our system however, there is not enough encouragement to outlet the bodies from our political system.

  12. Rebaz
    June 11, 2012 | 19:40

    The article highlights the dangerous plan that the political parties in Kurdistan try to implement to silence people and misrepresent the reality on the ground.

    The Kurdistan Democratic Party has been trying to do so by spending a huge amount of people’s money on running masked media outlets. The party’s current expensive game is its so called academic media project(,which I have been informed that it’s in reality run by one of the project’s researcher Dr John Hogn’s wife Dr Nazand Bagikhani. Nazand is also runs Le Monde Diplomatic, Sorani copy for KDP’s Rudaw. This has been mentioned by another commentator above. I ask to take part and investigate this so called strange media research, and do not let its website to be a platform for KDP’s advertisement. We all know the parties multi tactics, please be careful.

  13. Kurdawari
    June 12, 2012 | 23:08

    a very well detailed and developed article, well done Kamal Chomani. it is clear, NRT, Rudaw, and many other media institutions are closely related to and funded by party officials (KDP and PUK) in the context of shadow media and combatting the private and free media institutions. I have not any objection to founding and funding media institutions by businessmen, private companies, but stealing and syphoning from public budget and country’s revenues is a crime must be punished severly sooner or later. that is why we are struggling for a radical change of the Kurdistan Region’s political system which is profoundly corrupted and authoritarian.

  14. kardo kamal
    June 12, 2012 | 23:23

    Well done mamosta kamal, its a great article,but it will be much better if these kind of articles published in European Brod sheets, such as The guardian, the times or the observer to reveal the reality of kurdistan for western politicians and society.
    Thanks once again

  15. Dara
    June 13, 2012 | 12:25

    To add what Rebaz wrote above. It’s very important not to forget that the Kurdish parties, in particular Kurdistan Democratic Party, with its stuffed pocket with public’s money, hires academics to attack free media in one way or another. Rebaz mistakenly put the academoc’s links on his comment above. The links are as follows:


    You might notice, they don’t feel guilty, they use photos of Kurdish victimes to blind readers and make them blieve what they do is for media, this is an attempt to divert people’s attention(xoll Kirdne chaw).Why should we blame political parties, it’s these business minded academics that they make joke of us. These people should tell the truth.

    They have even lies to- Kurdistantribune, they haven’t sent all links of their project to the site.

    The Rudaw’s owner is so wishful thinking that they think assinging media projects to non-Kurdish and using European and American universities’ names people will blieve them. The money KDP pays to this time consuming project is just another waist of public resources.
    Truth will be prevailed soon or later.

  16. Hawar
    June 26, 2012 | 19:12

    Just to let you know, KDP’s agents in their comments, involve other media outlets in kak Choman’s article to distort readers’ attention. The aim of the article is on Rudaw and Nechirvan Barzani. Chomani dosen’t say other media outlests are angles, but none has been as rich as Rudaw’s owner Nechirvan, who spends huge amount of people’s money on Rudaw and its staff, which includes no-Kurdish journalists and “academics”.

  17. Bewar
    October 12, 2014 | 18:46

    This is absolutely a great article and it really makes sense .. I wish you publish it more to inform other people about what’s happening here. Well-done!!

  18. […] has largely been to block critics. The origin of the channel can be found in in this 2012 article published in The Kurdistan […]

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