Sunday, January 13, 2008


"Corruption never has been compulsory."
~ Anthony Eden.

The BBC has discovered something that some of us--like Hîwa and I--have complained about for some time: corruption in South Kurdistan and how difficult it is for the ordinary Kurd to get by.

As I said, from the BBC:

Flying into the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Irbil and its glitteringly new international airport, it is difficult to believe you are entering Iraq.

[ . . . ]

Irbil looks like a boom town. Cranes and new multi-storey buildings litter the skyline.

There are shopping malls, luxurious gated communities, conference centres and grandiose headquarters for the factions who once fought Saddam and now rule Kurdistan - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

[ . . . ]

Meanwhile, ordinary Kurds are struggling to get by. People described rampant inflation, high unemployment and erratic water and electricity supplies.

In Sulaimaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan's second city, people said they got running water for four hours every three days and electricity for three-to-four hours a day.

Contaminated water supplies have led to cholera outbreaks.

"Too many times, we have asked the government to help us,"said one woman who had lost her father-in-law and a baby to cholera said. "But it is in vain. They promise and do nothing."

She described the fear of living through an outbreak last September, knowing her water supply was contaminated, but not having the electricity to boil the water.

"When I think of the budget and the millions and see my situation," she said, "I feel like I am dead."

Kurdistan's budget is large - more than $6bn last year - the region's share of Iraq's oil revenues. But there is a growing gap between ordinary Kurds and the political elite.

"I see some of the officials who, 20 years ago, were with us in the mountains," said Ari Harsin, another former peshmerga, who is now the Irbil bureau editor of the independent Awene newspaper.

"They used to be purists, partisans. Now they are driving land cruisers with dark windows and a lot of body guards. They see how ordinary people are living. They have no shame."

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

There's also a podcast of the BBC's Crossing Continents radio program on which this story aired. It's got a 28-minute run time, and I recommend a listen. Young people from Helebçe who helped destroy the memorial in protest against the PUK are spoken to, as are people in government, Kurdish journalists, and contractors who are building exclusive, gated, residential areas for the elites. You can download the mp3 file here. The program was originally aired on 10 January.

If you had been planning to see the new flick with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, called Charlie Wilson's War, you'd better read something from Chalmers Johnson before you get propagandized yet again by Hollywood. From TomDispatch:

Which brings us back to the movie and its reception here. (It has been banned in Afghanistan.) One of the severe side effects of imperialism in its advanced stages seems to be that it rots the brains of the imperialists. They start believing that they are the bearers of civilization, the bringers of light to "primitives" and "savages" (largely so identified because of their resistance to being "liberated" by us), the carriers of science and modernity to backward peoples, beacons and guides for citizens of the "underdeveloped world."

[ . . . ]

When imperialist activities produce unmentionable outcomes, such as those well known to anyone paying attention to Afghanistan since about 1990, then ideological thinking kicks in. The horror story is suppressed, or reinterpreted as something benign or ridiculous (a "comedy"), or simply curtailed before the denouement becomes obvious. Thus, for example, Melissa Roddy, a Los Angeles film-maker with inside information from the Charlie Wilson production team, notes that the film's happy ending came about because Tom Hanks, a co-producer as well as the leading actor, "just can't deal with this 9/11 thing."

[ . . . ]

Today there is ample evidence that, when it comes to the freedom of women, education levels, governmental services, relations among different ethnic groups, and quality of life -- all were infinitely better under the Afghan communists than under the Taliban or the present government of President Hamid Karzai, which evidently controls little beyond the country's capital, Kabul. But Americans don't want to know that -- and certainly they get no indication of it from Charlie Wilson's War, either the book or the film.

Read the rest, especially if you're going to see the movie. Actually, read the rest anyway, because Chalmers Johnson knows what he's talking about--and get his Blowback trilogy, if you can--and you might actually learn something about how the CIA works, how American policy works, how the media works, and how Hollywood works.


Anonymous said...

Thank you again Mizgin for the indispensable information and knowledge you share with us. Her biji.

abdullahyusufali said...

Turkish army also has some new news:
PKK'da erkek erkeğe seks

This is getting ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mizgin, for never missing an opportunity to point out the flaws of the Southern Kurds' administration.

I agree that corruption must be faced head on; but for this reader to take it seriously, you have to be willing to point out corruption wherever and by whomever it occurs. Otherwise, the corruption charges smack as being accessories to an agenda.

Mizgîn said...

You're welcome, Anonymous 1.

Abdullahyusufali, if "terrorist" women are "used" by the men, then how are the men homosexuals? Meanwhile, Hizbullah is stealing stuff from mosques and the Turkish communists are rapists? Yeah, ridiculous. Actually, I think all the lovely people at Terorle Mucadele Daire Baskanligi are the only homosexuals here.

Anonymous 2, you are also welcome. If this blog were about worldwide corruption, then I'd have "to point out corruption wherever and by whomever it occurs." But this blog is not about worldwide corruption.

Yet, you agree "that corruption must be faced head on" but you appear to want to face it head on by silence. Explain to me how silence is the way to face corruption head on.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 here: There wasn't a contradiction in my statement. Corruption must be faced head on, not by silence. If your intent is partisan politics, and pitting one side against another, then corruption charges become a mere tool.

I don't disagree that corruption exists within the KDP, the PUK, or the KRG. It is probably rampant. And must it be exposed? Most definitely.

It also exists within the DTP and the PKK -- and is probably also rampant -- but one would never know reading your blog, even though it deals with most things Kurdish and most things to do with the PKK.

One might say that your reasoning with respect to the PKK is that it is already beleagered by so many unfair criticisms that it is unjust to air out its dirty laundry on the internet for so many to harshly criticize. I mean, they are already looking to hate them. If this was your reasoning, I might even agree with you.

But, I wonder why that same reasoning can't be applied to our brothers-in-arms, the Southern Kurds and their leadership? They are the ones, after all, who are facing the brunt of the regional hatred but the hatred is much more insidious and always delivered with a smile.

A patriot I respect once told me that when you spend more time and effort in demonizing other Kurds, there is less time and effort to be spent in unifying the Kurds.

If you are concerned about the welfare of those Southern Kurds, why wouldn't you spend more time writing about how the electricity supply in Duhok was cut off by the Turkish state?

Again, I don't even mind if all you did was write about corruption within Kurdish politics and hope that Kurdish politicians read English ... but if you did it in a non-partisan fashion.

Then, the Kurds and their problems would not at least be used as pawns in a greater agenda.

Mizgîn said...

It also exists within the DTP and the PKK -- and is probably also rampant --

If you have articles that describe the corruption in DTP and PKK then send them to me.

It's funny that I don't hear complaints about DTP or PKK corruption from Northern Kurds but I do hear volumes of complaints from all variety of Southern Kurds about the corruption in the South.

Do you prefer the corruption be left for someone like Michael Rubin to write about?

If KDP and PUK had shown any inclination to battle corruption in the last few years, then I would give them credit for their efforts. However, I have not seen evidence of such a battle.

Why is it that, at this point, Dohuk is still relying on electricity from Turkey? Is it because KRG efforts have been focused on building resorts, shopping malls, and exclusive housing instead of tending to the needs of the ordinary people? Why?

No one should be surprised that Turkey shut off the electricity. Nor should they be surprised if Turkey cuts off the food supply. These are not priorities for the elites.

If you think that my writing about the Southern parties' corruption is partisan, then that is what you think and I cannot change that.

Anonymous said...

If you think it is a boon that there are no articles on corruption within the PKK, consider again. It proves the very substance of my point. You cannot ask me for articles on corruption within the DTP or the PKK when the PKK exerts a stranglehold over all progressive Kurdish media. Isn’t the fact that we never read, hear or see any news about corruption or mismanagement within the PKK or DTP the very reason why the organizations are at an impasse? And yet, they have so much criticisms (many of it vitriolic) of other Kurdish leaders and organizations. Those who dare criticize the PKK? Well, they might as well be the scum of the earth, for, as the reasoning goes, no good patriot can ever have a worthy criticism of the PKK. This kind of thinking has lead the organization to such an impasse that rather than gaining greater popularity among the Kurdish populace after 25 years of struggling for national liberation, it has reached an impasse and is losing votes in Kurdistan to the AKP!!! Rather than promoting Kurdish reconciliation, its cadres possess a supreme arrogance that recognizes no other honest Kurd than the Apoci and no other Kurdish party than the PKK. This kind of thinking that “recognizes” no one else and is infused with paranoia that every other Kurd is out to get the PKK, and which culminated in the line of thinking which denied, rather than encouraged, Southern Kurdistan’s road to self-administration is foolish and can only lead to the weakening of all Kurds, including the PKK.

I am bothered about corruption as much as the next patriot. In Southern Kurdistan, I want money spent on infrastructure needed to create and protect a modern Kurdish state. In Northern Kurdistan, I want 95% of all Kurds voting for a Kurdish party so that we can reclaim our rights. I want a party that puts its faith in the Kurdish people and makes me believe that we can achieve victory with our people rather than despite our people.

Mizgîn said...

You know very well who's been encouraging Northern Kurds to vote AKP. You know very well the policies of AKP that have hindered DTP's efforts.

If there is corruption in DTP, then why isn't that fact hammered in Turkish media? But you know that corruption in DTP hasn't been mentioned by Turkish media.

Red herrings.

Define "progressive Kurdish media."

It's good to hear that PKK is still all-powerful.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you mean...Who has been encouraging Northern Kurds to vote AKP other than the AKP?

Do you think those Kurds voting for AKP are influenced by what Talabani says (I have heard he made reference to how great the AKP was)?

Who, in fact, makes political decisions based on what Talabani says? The only other job Talabani can have where his word could be taken any less seriously is as a Weatherman.

What are the policies of AKP that have hindered DTP's efforts?

Could it have been that the PKK has also contributed to its own weaknening in Kurdistan?

Surely, it is inconceivable; but let's try this thought experiment...

Imagine you are a religious Kurd and naturally affected by the merciless Turkish propaganda, you don't feel that the PKK, who has gained a reputation for being "God-less" and Communist, adequately represents you as a God-fearing Kurd.

You are unsure about supporting a Turkish party like AKP, even though they espouse the same values you believe in. Yet, the AKP candidates speak Kurdish, walk Kurdish, and they even say they will help with the Kurdish problem...Oh, what to do...So, you examine the "Kurdish Party"...and what is their slogan? "Turkish-Kurdish Brotherhood" and some of their candidates don't even speak a word of Kurdish. And who do they ally with in the elections? The Turkish left and dirty scum bags like Murat Karayalcin (who used to be with the MHP, if I'm not mistaken). And, this so-called "Kurdish Party" keeps insisting it is not a Kurdish party -- it is a party for all of Turkey.

So, your mind gets confused...Mine would, too...What's the point of voting for a Kurdish party if they don't even WANT to be Kurdish party?

This was the scenario at the time of the last elections when AKP started gaining in Kurdistan.

The PKK and the DTP are changing its policies, to be sure... but there HAVE been mistakes and they have been costly.