Tuesday, 31 July 2012, 09:49 GMT
Massoud Barzani: My fight is for the constitutional rights of my people

Kurdistan Region President, Massoud Barzani./GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamid

The Kurdish Globe

The Kurds are a main component of Iraq and after the liberation process,

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani published an article on the official Kurdistan Presidency website, Saturday July 28th, in which he talks about the current political situation and what he describes as 'distressing national crises' in Iraq.

Below is the English translation of the text, conducted by the Kurdish Globe.

I would like to present the writing below to explain to our beloved nation the facts and the core of the tensions between Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, as well as reminding on the factors behind the problems.

The Kurds are a main component of Iraq and after the liberation process, they have had an effective participation in the establishment of the new Iraq. The new constitution of Iraq and its implementation is the sole guarantee for the co-existence of the Iraqis. We have tried to exercise our rights and duties within the framework of this constitution, but there are people who, after strengthening their bases, are hiding from following this constitution and try to monopolize power more and more.

Sometimes, this tension is being discussed inside Kurdistan in a way that as if it is a personal tension between me and Maliki. I have no personal issues with Mr. Maliki or any other persons inside the tensions. Maliki has lived several years in Kurdistan and has showed himself as a friend of the Kurds. He has also been a close friend of mine and we have continuously been in contact and I have tried to solve problems with him on the basis of mutual understanding, but he has not kept any promises and has acted unilaterally.

I lost hope in Maliki when, in 2008, he deployed the Iraqi Army with tanks and other heavy weapons to Khanaqin to fight the Peshmargas.

We have problem with this mentality, that instead of dialogue, he believes in the language of arms. My concern is not for now; it is for the coming years. If this mentality is allowed to grow this way while he has power, he will create great problems for Kurdistan and Iraq.

According to the constitutional authority and responsibility that I have (as KRG president), I did not create new problems when I broke the silence about this (authoritarian) mentality (in Baghdad) this year, although some people see it that way.

Rather, I only brought issues on the table that have existed for years now but have not been addressed seriously.

Many years have passed since the promise was made to solve the pending issues (between Kurdistan Region and Bagdad) without taking serious steps in that direction. No serious steps have been taken for Article 140, or the issue of the budget and the (financial) needs of the Peshmarga, nor has the draft for oil and gas been passed. Moreover, Kurdish officers and officials are sidelined and alienated inside the Iraqi Army.

After the Erbil Agreement they always hid themselves from implementing the articles of the agreement, so, the real power-sharing term has almost faded away and what has been felt is only monopolization and a return to the dictatorship mentality.

They ignored all the promises in regard to the internal procedures of the ministerial council, and only Maliki's unlimited authority could be seen there in all administrative, security, military and economic aspects, which is breaching the constitutional definition of the government type of Iraq, since according to the constitution the head of the government is the head of the council of ministers and not a prime minister. There is a large difference between these two terms, since the head of the council of ministers will follow and execute the internal policies and procedures of the council and cannot act on his own.

Peshmarga budget has been approved a few years ago but it is prevented from arriving to the Region, and this is clearly taking over the region's share in the national wealth. This is because this budget is cut from Kurdistan's share as part of the federal expenditures. Kurdistan and Baghdad had agreed, in the presence of the Americans, that Peshmarga would be part of the Iraqi defense system and all its needs will be provided and supported from the Iraqi defense system budget. And the arms and equipment were supplied to Peshmarga on this basis, but all the arms and equipment have been held in the Taji military warehouses and has not been given to the Peshmarga forces.

With regards to dealing with the oil contracts, it has been discussed both on the regional and national levels for a long time now. It is important that all parties know that we have been asking for a few years now that a specialized and independent committee review all the documents about oil in the Region and Iraq and identify all their shortcomings and constitutional breaches, but they are hiding from this issue. They announce every time that they have established a committee and then they don't do anything. Why this hiding?

Why all the fuss about the Kurdish oil? This is the question. We really wonder if Bagdad does this just to distract focus on the conduct of the Iraqi Oil Ministry in Baghdad.

We have been very patient and have always asked the Iraqi groups to solve the issues through dialogue and abiding by the constitution. We have always been waiting for an Iraqi solution and have not closed negotiation doors with any party who believes in dialogue.

But if there is no Iraqi solution, and we realize that the constitution is not followed, then we will resort to a Kurdistan solution and go back to the opinion and determination of Kurdistan's people. My message in this year's Nawroz was only this.

Then the meeting of the Iraqi groups was conducted aiming at solving the problems, and the National Alliance Bloc was specifically asked to force Maliki to respect and follow the constitution and the agreements signed among all the parties inside the political process.

The issue of withdrawing support from Maliki was discussed a lot among different opinions. Some claim that it was my project. But in fact it is not like that, it was the project of other people rather than mine. I had other suggestions for changing this style of Maliki. I suggested that radical reforms be made in Iraq's governing system and the principles of democracy and tolerance be strengthened, because this is the core of the problem. But after the political groups met in the presence of the Iraqi President, the issue of withdrawing support became the demand of the attendants and I supported the idea and did not object, because in fact the past experiences in ignoring the agreements and lack of respect for the constitution had closed the doors of hope with Maliki.

I do not regret this decision and I am performing my duties.

Unfortunately this sensitive issue is mixed with personal issues and conflicts inside Kurdistan, and this was also unfair towards the rights and demands of our nation; and it has negative impact on Kurdistan and its status in Iraq. I thought I need to express these ideas and warn that what is currently being done in Baghdad will create a big threat to everyone in the near future. I raised this issue so that everybody performs his duty.

And if now anyone thinks that he can solve the pending issues with Maliki, the door is open and I am ready to give all the assistance needed. Whoever can come and put the democratic and governance system of Iraq on the right path and end the monopoly, let him come and take a step.

In short, I wanted to fight for the constitutional rights of Kurds and at the same time defend the democratic system in Iraq. I have tried to say that if the situation continues this way, in a few years it will pose a big threat on the rights of the Kurds and the entire political process in Iraq.

Everybody should know that the issue is not only related to the Region. The issue is the situation of the whole Iraq. We have participated in building the new Iraq and have sacrificed for it. We want happiness and welfare for all Iraqis. Our wish is a decent life for all the components of Iraq. But decision-makers in Baghdad have ignored the demands of the Iraqi people and are always creating tensions to cover their shortcomings.

According to all standards, the government in Baghdad has failed in serving the citizens. The Iraq government has had more than half a trillion US Dollars in the past few years. What happened to all this wealth? Let the Iraqis ask what happened to the reconstruction process? Where are services? More than USD 20 billion has been allocated only for electricity, so where is the result? Let the Iraqi government work on serving its citizens rather than continuously creating problems for the Kurdistan Region and political groups.

In this wealthy country the citizens deserve a better life and more services. But yet the government in Baghdad has failed in providing minimum services. But, instead of hurrying to improve the public services, a new wave of armament has been underway, purchasing guns just to impose themselves on the country.

Here I want to tell the people who have such a mentality, that the era has passed when they were bringing their military and security forces and imposed themselves on our nation. We will not let Iraq go back and the interests of the Kurdish nation and other nations in Iraq be sacrificed for a regional agenda or narrow personal interests.

The region has witnessed great transformations and further changes are on the way. While supporting the success of the nations in the region, we reiterate our call for keeping the unity of the Kurds in this sensitive juncture.

Let all parties put the higher national interests above the narrow interests. The tensions that exist in Iraq and the region are not tools for political games or for using against one another, any such act will be dangerous for the future of Kurds and Kurdistan in the region. This situation has put a big historical responsibility on the shoulders of everybody.

I feel responsible towards protecting the interests of Kurdistan, Iraq and the democratic process. And I feel responsible for protecting the freedom and integrity of the Kurdistan citizens and I am proud of this duty and hope that all of us use our energy and power to take our nation to peace, stability, liberty and a better and a more decent life.