Anyone who has read Michael Rubin's misleading articles would easily recognize the magnitude of his antipathy towards the Kurds. In his recent piece, Rubin claims that President Massoud Barzani is not a nationalist leader.1 On the contrary, President Barzani is not only the most prominent nationalist Kurdish leader today, but he is also a pragmatic and visionary leader that has been recognized as a man of peace on the global stage.
Barzani's track record proves that he is a man of principle. Throughout his life, he has fought for greater Kurdish rights for all parts of Kurdistan. While some have explicitly preached the notion of an independent Kurdistan as a fantasy that only exists in poems and dreams, President Barzani has declared self-determination 'as a natural right' and has dedicated his life making this 'dream' a reality. 6
Without a doubt, the source of Barzani's popularity is his sense of nationalism and genuine determination to defend Kurds. A key indicator that reveals his popularity is the recent attempt by the rival Kurdish parties to change the existing method of selecting the KRG president from a direct democracy, where the people of Kurdistan will directly chose the candidate, into a system where the parliament will select the candidate for presidency, which points out that Barzani's rivals are terrified from his growing popular acceptance as well.
The only thing that Rubin has right is that 'Nationalist rhetoric is a staple of Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani's speeches and declarations' 1; hence, Rubin should understand that the content of Barzani's speeches stem's from his heart and his creed.
Amongst the abundant pool of evidence confirming that Barzani is a true nationalist leader are his heroic acts in the battle field against the Iraqi army from the 1960s through 1990s; his resilience and determination to stop the Turkish threat of occupation in 2003, as he promised to turn Kurdistan into a graveyard of Turkish soldiers, and his diplomacy and peaceful approach of fighting for Kurdish rights in Baghdad in the post Saddam era by accepting no less than a federal and democratic system in Iraq, 'for the time being'.
Perhaps, Rubin may be experiencing memory lapses from his own professional experience as well. While he served as the country director for Iraq for the Department of Defense and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) from 2002 to 2004, President Barzani blocked the motion by Paul Bremer, Rubin's boss, to further partition Iraqi Kurdistan by imposing provincial federalism into 18 federal provinces; a move that would have jeopardized the Kurdish achievements. It may be the source of his frustrations.
Rubin should be reminded that President Barzani has been the spearhead preventing the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Malki, from returning Iraq back to authoritarianism, and he has pledged to sacrifice his life to protect the Kurdish achievements. His visit to the frontline of the standoff between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces in Zumar in September of 2012 to raise the moral of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to defend their homeland confirms this fact.
Barzani has proven that he is the champion of Kurdish rights throughout greater Kurdistan. He is the architect and the driving force for uniting the fragmented Kurds of Syria (Rojava). Moreover, under his instructions, the Kurdish security forces continue to provide training and logistics to their brethren's from Rojava to defend themselves, which has been against the wishes of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. 2, 4
As far as blocking the US arms sales to Turkey, everyone knows that Turkey is a NATO member and its geopolitical importance is the most influential factor shaping the US policy. Therefore, overt statements by President Barzani will be counterproductive,www.ekurd.net as the KRG has other means of influencing Washington. Maybe, Rubin should look into the American Kurdish Congressional Caucus (AKCC), an organization that involves over 50 members of US House of Representatives that was established under the leadership of Barzani to strengthen the relations between the Kurds and the Americans, primarily for influencing the US policy for such purposes.
On another note, while acknowledging that the Kurdish dream for independence is dependent on KRG's economy, institutions, and its geopolitical importance, which requires building friendly commercial and diplomatic relations with the neighboring states, President Barzani has repeatedly criticized the Turkish policy and advocates a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey; openly reminding the Turks that 'the Turkish military cannot defeat the Kurdish freedom fighters, as the Iraqi army was unable to defeat the Kurdish Peshmergas'.
Rubin's odious and ridiculous rhetoric and comments may also be linked to his affiliation to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is closely connected to Turkish generals and nationalists groups in Washington DC. 3
Perhaps, instead of being antagonistic towards the KRG, which is one of the most peaceful, progressive, and democratic governments in the Middle East today, Rubin should use his time and energy criticizing Obama's failure and silence about the atrocities taking place in Syria, Turkey's human rights violations, Tehran's nuclear ambition and growing influence over Iraq, and Maliki's plans of returning Iraq back into a dictatorship, which are a threat to his Jewish heritage and the international community.
1. http:// /2012/masud-barzani-really-nationalist/
By Delovan Barwari is a San Diego resident and president of the American Kurdish Council and a regular contributing writer for Ekurd.net.