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The Barzani Legacy

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  Sheik Massoud Hafeed Barzani                              Mullah Mustapha Barzani
Nijyar Shemdin: "[Mullah Mustafa Barzani] told us, that we Kurds when we go abroad should stick to our roots, pick up the good things from new cultures and ignore the bad things."

31 Jul 11    President Talabani hails Hamayil Khan’s role in Kurdish movement, kurdsat.tv
31 Jul 11    President Barzani's Statement After the Funeral Services of His Mother, PNA
31 Jul 11   Kurds serve warning as U.S. withdrawal nears, Reuters, Jim Loney
31 Jul 11   Baghdad needs to keep the peace in Kirkuk, Gulf News
30 Jul 11   Mother Kurdistan, wife of legendary Kurdish leader passes away, The Kurdish Globe
30 Jul 11   Iraqi sherpas: They Risked Their Lives, NYT, editorial
28 jul 11    US Vice-President Biden’s Call to Kurdistan Regional Government President
28 Jul 11    Condolences by Ambassador James Jeffrey, US Embassy Baghdad
28 Jul 11    Mustafa Barzani’s wife passed away, kurdsat.tv
28 Jul 11   The passing away of Hamayil Barzani, mother of President Barzani, KRG.org
27 Jul 11   Kirkuk is a 'land mine' where all sides want U.S. to stay, tricityherald.com, Roy Gutman
27 Jul 11   U.S. proposal to relocate 3,000 Iranian dissidents rebuffed, tricityherald.com, Roy Gutman
14 Jul 11    Iraqi Jews should return to their homeland Iraq, ekurd.net, Mariwan Salihi
3 Jul 11   Where's Kurdistan's missing $4 billion?, The Kurdistan Tribune, Michael Rubin
29 Jun 11    Kirkuk, the world's saddest city, ekurd.net, Mariwan Salihi
14 Jun 11    The French are winning Kurdistan's 'hearts and minds', ekurd.net, Mariwan Salihi
18 Mar 11   Respect for the Dead, Respect for the Living, UN workshop, Anton Keller
9 Feb 09    Did Mullah Mustafa Barzani misjudge his own sons?, OpEdNews.com, Hamma Mirwaisi
18 Jul 07    Scheich Mahmud Barzinji, Kurdmania.com, Awat Asad
12.Apr 04    Barzani-Sourchi reconciliation, GOGEL
1 Mar 00    Mullah Mustafa Barzani Twenty First Remembrance, KRG

Respect for the Dead, Respect for the Living
by Anton Keller, Secretary of the Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers
statement delivered at the 23th Halabja Commemoration held at the UN Geneva Office, March 18, 2011
Human Rights Situation in Iraq, Missing Persons & Victim Compensation
 sponsored by Al-Hakim Foundation, CHAK, RADDHO, Interfaith International

Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have just seen a film on the victims of Saddam's use of chemical weapons against the civilian population of Halabja on March 16/17, 1988. And our Austrian colleague, Dr.Gerhard Freilinger, has followed up with medical reports on his experiences with Iranian soldiers who, during the Iraq-Iran war, fell also victim to Saddam's mostly foreign-supplied chemical weapons of mass-destruction.

I am impressed by these showings. In fact, I find myself compelled to deviate from my prepared statement not least in light of yesterday's adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 against another surviving small Saddam who - hélas - reportedly still has some five tons of Mustard gas with which to terrorise his own people and to blackmail the world. But when considering these events, we also should take into account the well-hidden but credibly reported use of these barbaric terror weapons by British pilots who sought to put down the Kurdish uprising of 1920 (www.solami.com/britishgas.htm#Folly). And our leaders and we, as sovereign citizens and observers, should remember and be remembered of things past. For, as the saying goes, those who do not know where they come from, risk not to really know even where they want to go, much less how to positively influence the course of events.

The ultimate fate of each of us is death. And whether it occurs as a result of an accident, or by intent of one-self or of others, for those around us, for our families and friends, it is always a catastrophe. As is the case with the uncertainties associated with missing persons, such as the still-festering politically motivated kidnapping in 2006 of the son of our co-panelist Sheik Salar Al-Hafeed(.../sarwar.htm). That characteristic does not change when death occurs in multiples; but it can then adversely influence the psyche, the eventual willingness and survival capacity of the affected survivors. Thus, numbers do matter - in as much as they affect and harm us more deeply, more fundamentally, and more lastingly. But, as I said, for the individual loved ones, the catastrophe of any singular death remains an individually surmountable challenge. And thus, I may take this commemoration opportunity to focus on the living, on the fortunate survivors, and on their needs and legitimate aspirations.

When some members of our lawmaker group visited the memorial and museum in Halabja, the villagers welcomed us. And the local power holders also spoke of the past horrors. I for one didn't notice any anormal discontent either. Yet, shortly thereafter, in a widely-noted demonstration directed against the regional government's alleged corruption, this hallmark of Kurdish history was sacked and burnt (www.juancole.com/2006/03/halabja-riot-against-america-kurds-in.html ¦ www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HdM7qi8ZaE). In retrospect, it seems that Halabja's current residents found themselves exploited by the new powers, with their basic needs and legitimate aspirations remaining largely off the regional government's radar screen.

Which brings me to an even more fundamental mechanism at work in that part of the world, too. I'm talking about the respect for the living, and I'm thinking in particular about the respect for our own brethren, for the members of one's own ethnic, cultural or religious group. It is a mechanism which is also at the root of the biblical Yeshua's saying: "A prophet is not respected in his own country." (John 4.44: www.biblestudytools.com/cjb/john/4-44.html). And it does not only apply to relations between the members of different ethnic, cultural and religious communities, but - importantly - also between members of the very same community. As a matter of fact, in the last 20 years of intense work on Mideastern issues, I have not met many persons from that region who recognised another of their own brethren to have good ideas or to be able and willing to do good things. Showing off, blustering and seeking to impress others preferably by denigrating others seems to be standard procedure and the modus operandi not least in leadership circles. As if the only alternative to being oppressed is seeking to keep out or oppress all others.

In the words of Thomas Friedman, published in his commendable New York Times column "Tribes With Flags" (3/23/11), it is as if "[d]emocratic rotations in power are impossible because each tribe lives by the motto 'rule or die' — either my tribe or sect is in power or we’re dead." And that society-permeating mindset seems to apply to both young and elderly people of any creed, religion or political affiliation, with Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Turkoman and Yezidis not exactly standing out as exceptions either. In fact, as a long-time student of architecture, my sense of harmony has always been stressed by the symptomatic - if unconscious - pompousness, arrogance and even recklessness of many Iraqi villas. In other words, the way and speed forward may ultimately - and to a decisive degree - be determined by the Iraqi citizens' own mindset, i.e. particularly by both their enhanced individual and communal willingness to genuinely recognise, respect and encourage their brethren as also capable to contribute their part to the common good. That, of course, is a long-term proposition where the family, the school and the spiritual leaders are called upon to provide the necessary impulses and guidance.

In 1991, at the beginning of my work on Iraqi minority and human rights issues, I had only my own cultural, educational and experience background to build on. I thought that Switzerland's culture of dialogue, consensus-building and cooperation might also be helpful, desirable and successfully aimed at in and around the birthplace of mankind. I was, of course, aware that this world-renoun - and seemingly unique - political and cultural success-formula has been built over some 700 years by Switzerland's religiously and linguistically diversified  communities. But I trusted that with the necessary goodwill and support from all of Northern Iraq's constituent communities and their friends abroad, it should be possible to set things on the right track within at most one generation. And that circumstances can be helped about in that direction, both from within and from without. Accordingly, I labored from the beginning to properly identify, strengthen and build on the roots of each constituent community, and to get their leaders to work out and formally agree to dialogue, consensus-building and cooperation formulas for equitable power- and fruit-sharing. The result is the Mosul Vilayet project, with its five fundamental declarations, three key programs, land-ownership study and Palestinians-in-exile program (www.solami.com/mvcindex.htm ¦ .../a31.htm ¦ .../UNGA.htm ¦ .../registrars.htm ¦.../PLATO.htm ¦ .../aldeeb08.htm ¦ .../gridlock.htm).

Today, some 20 years later, the upheavals currently gaining the Arab world, as well as the Mosul Vilayet project, seem to testify to the validity not only of Victor Hugo's saying: "No army in the world is strong enough to withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come." But also of the reverse side of the very same coin, i.e.: "No force is strong enough to push through an idea whose time has not yet come." Indeed, the International Crisis Group quotes a minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government as now favoring "a new Mosul vilayet" (.../iraqsplit.htm#ICG). And a growing number of Iraqi lawmakers, as well as party and community leaders, stand by their earlier commitments. Or they now come forward to add their voice for resolving the Kirkuk and other burning issues on the basis of the legal instruments underlying the Mosul Vilayet project. This is also evidenced by the resolutions which are currently under consideration in the European Parliament and the US Congress(.../140.htm ¦ .../ashureu.htm ¦ .../ashur.htm). On this history-inspired third road, the survivors of Halabja, of Saddam, and of depleated uranium weapons - i.e. Iraq's much abused youth and their parents - may thus finally and proudly build a future worthy of their great past.

*            *            *

Q & A session: What can the UN do to help the Kurds and Kurdistan?
    Charles Graves, Chairman:    The UN is basically a members-only club where a politically effective dialogue is possible only among representatives of member nations. The UN's specialised agencies is the forum for scientific, technical and practical tasks in such common interest fields as health, labor, agriculture, telecommunications, refugees, etc. In all these areas, civil society is given at most an observer and consultative status, with strictly delimitated and supervised non-governmental organisations (NGOs) kept at an often frustrating, for ineffective distance. Strictly guarded communication channels are kept open notably at what is now the UN Human Rights Council. Thus it is not surprising that whistle-blowing and ground-breaking NGO reports and initiatives were only barely - if at all - taken up by the international media. They included reports submitted early on by Amnesty International, Interfaith International, Greenpeace, WWF and others on such horrowing stories like Halabja, Anfal and depleated urranium weapons. But mostly only much later, when it became politically expedient, did these reports make it into the official discourse of government representatives. So what we can do and achieve as NGOs remains mostly in the realm of writing well-documented papers and making appealing and resonance-capable statements reflecting our mandates, homework and insights - and hoping for the powers that be to take up the ball when it suits them.

    Anton Keller:    To be sure, some NGOs also got streetwise and even managed to organise a politically critical mass at the UN Security Council. However, in the case of the Iraqi minorities issues, it is particularly galling to note how the successors of Saddam shot themselves into their own feet in the wake of Saddam's downfall. For when the powers that be finally were ready to reactivate the never-abrogated international minority protection and private property guarantees by way of mentioning the corresponding Iraqi Declaration of 1932 (.../UNGA.htm) in the Security Council Resolution 1546 of June 8, 2004, it was the Kurdish Iraqi Foreign Minister who vetoed that godsend as "colonial stuff", thus ignoring Iraq's own history and interest in favor of some influential flat-earth US ignoramuses who never got over their dislike of anything linked to the League of Nations. Which, of course, need not be the end of the story, as other, less US-subservient, more enlightened and visionary leaders may yet take the helm. Meanwhile, there are crucial lessons to be drawn from what the Chairman explained, and from the concrete experiences I just outlined:
1.    The UN is a powerful political vehicle only for governments; unless you have done your homework and lined up the votes there, you might as well "piss at a lamp post" for getting any action done, as Seth Lipsky, the former editor of the Wall Street Journal, once reminded me. That is the reason, why even the over 1 million signatures collected in 2004 among the Mosul Vilayet inhabitants in favor of separation from Iraq didn't make a dent anywhere and in fact couldn't even be officially received by the UN.
2.    The first order of business for any community who wishes to be recognised and taken seriously by the international community is to get its own house in order, to know who they are and where they want to go, to respect each other, and to speak with one voice firmly, reasonably and reliably. Since 1992, the signatories of the Mosul Vilayet project have probably come closer to these objectives than others have come to theirs (.../a31.htm#CORUM).
3.    To identify and develop practical vehicles and pathways for allies abroad to support that proposed objective which best meets the common interest of all communities concerned. Thereby inspiration may be drawn from some simple but crucial psychological and historical facts, namely: That the shortest way is not necessarily the most practical. That many problems cannot be resolved inside the box - as best illustrated with the nine-star puzzle (.../puzzle.htm). That a man who wants a child cannot do it alone but must invest and associate himself with a woman. That by availing their good offices for helping to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli gridlock, the inhabitants of the Mosul Vilayet might also benefit enormously on the educational, administrative and political fronts (.../gridlock.htm). That Christians have the highest resonance factor among the Western allies - for which reason the congressional and the EP resolutions I spoke about are focussed on the Assyrians. And that on the way to an eventual Kurdistan, Kurds and their brethren in the Mosul Vilayet might make most individual and common progress by seeking to develop and strengthen their multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society through genuinely mutual respect based on a deliberate culture of dialogue, consensus-building and power- and fruit-sharing.

    Charles Graves, Chairman:    Anton is quite right, and he has offered us some good advice. For he is a specialist on old and mostly forgotten but often still amazingly relevant treaties. Perhaps then our commemorative reflections of today will indeed go beyond the realm of the dead and be of real assistance to the living. For no lesser authority than Saddrudin Aga Khan, in his noted Sorbonne address of 1992 (.../Sorbonne.html), has already pointed out that:
"The League's international minority protection obligations were recognized as fundamental laws for countries concerned, i.e. inter alia, Turkey, Iraq, Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia.  They could not be altered without the consent of the League Council and were explicitly declared to take precedence over any existing and future national 'law, regulation or official action'."
As such and in the hands of visionary politicians, they could indeed now become powerful instruments for resolving the explosive Kirkuk issue in particular. For this reason we can only hope that Saddrudin's advice be promptly heeded when he said: "The argument is advanced that League obligations could be applied with respect to Iraq ...  It would be helpful if international law experts were to examine the validity of this proposal."

cp 2580   -  1211 Geneva 2  -  +4122-7400362  -  swissbit@solami.com  -  www.solami.com/a33a.htm

12 April 2004

Massoud Barzani, President
Iraqi Governing Council
Dear Massoud,

I am a bit late in congratulating you to your appointment to the Iraqi Governing Council, but it is with no less sincerety. And now that you carry the burden of this interim government's presidency, I wish you well, and all the wisdom and courage for succeeding in this extremely difficult mission.

I understand that some constituent parts of the Mosul Vilayet in particular have yet to find common ground for resolving their long-lasting quarrels.  Even though you, too are believed to have been ready to settle matters and to have looked for a way to resolve fairly, equitably and in line with traditions the outstanding issues concerning in particular the Sourchi and related families and tribes.  With the world anxiously watching the internal situation in Iraq to rapidly deteriorate towards possibly uncontrollable events affecting also regional peace and security, there would seem to be no better opportunity for the son of the Kurds' legendary leader Mustafa Barzani to rise to the occasion by effectively demonstrating and applying his own leadership capabilities in a courageous, exemplary and comprehensive way, i.e. by doing what I understand can and needs to be done in such circumstances.  In the event, I am willing to arrange for you personally to meet the Sourchi family.  Trying to give due consideration to what I see as the legitimate interests of all concerned, I suggest the meeting to be held at the house of the late Hussein Sourchi in Baghdad in the coming days.

The urgency for this matter to be resolved without a single avoidable day's delay arises most of all from other pressing business and singular opportunities to make a dent in history, all of which are seen to be directly related to your current and future positions and responsibilities.  I thus take pleasure drawing your urgent and benevolent attention
(a)   to the enclosed ground-breaking draft Reconciliation Resolution "We, the Iraqi People" (www.solami.com/recres.htm) for which you may not want to wait for a green light by anybody except, of course, from other visionary Iraqi citizens who understand the world not to be flat but spheric - and who act accordingly,
(b)   to the on-going preparations for the related extraordinary general assembly of the Mosul Vilayet Council (www.solami.com/invitation.htm) of which, as KDP President, you are an ex officio member, and
(c)   to the question of this important meeting's venue (Mosul, Kirkuk, Suleimanyia or Arbil) and the KDP's eventual contributions, notably regarding security and infrastructure (e.g. immediate re-establishment of fixed telephone line communication between Arbil and Suleimanyia).

And I am looking forward to hearing from you promptly.  Meanwhile, I wish you all the best and remain, sincerely yours,

Anton Keller, Secretary, Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers

    Reconcilation Resolution "We, the Iraqi People" (www.solami.com/recres.htm)
    Invitation to the MVC extraordinary general assembly (www.solami.com/invitation.htm)

Kurdmania.com    18.Juli 2007.

Scheich Mahmud Barzinji
Von Awat Asad

Das Fehlen eines kurdischen Staatsgebildes im Zeitalter der sogenannten Nationalstaaten läßt sich nicht bloß an der Struktur des kurdischen Volkes bzw. der geopolitischen Lage Kurdistans und/oder dem Nichtvorhandensein eines historischen Staates Kurdistan erklären. Vielmehr muß man den einschneidenden Ereignissen des Ersten Weltkrieges auf den Grund gehen. Die bekannteste Kultfigur, die diese Idee energisch vertrat, war Scheich Mahmud Barzinji, der genau vor vierzig Jahren starb. Dessen Andenken wird bis zur heutigen Zeit von den Kurden in Ehren gehalten. Als Sohn einer der bekanntesten Scheich-Dynastien in Südkurdistan erblickte Scheich Mahmud im Jahre 1881 das Licht der Welt in der Stadt Suleymaniya, der ehemaligen Hauptstadt der Baban-Emirate, die um die Mitte des letzten Jahrhunderts durch die Osmanen gewaltsam unterworfen wurde. Scheich Mahmuds Dynastie hatte zuvor im 17. Jahrhundert einen internationalen Ruf als die einer Familie von Gelehrten erworben und repräsentierte die geistliche Führung der Region. Der religiöse bzw. politische Werdegang Scheich Mahmuds nahm bereits 1909 seinen Lauf: Nachdem sein 85 Jahre alter Vater und sein älterer Bruder in Mossul von einer aufgeputschten Masse ermordet worden waren, wurde er zusammen mit seinem jüngeren Bruder von den osmanischen Behörden festgenommen. Dieses Geschehen trieb das Land an den Rand des Aufruhrs, worauf die Osmanen mit seiner Freilassung reagierten. Er kehrte in seinen Heimatort zurück und wurde dort ehrenhaft empfangen. Seitdem war Scheich Mahmud in Südkurdistan eine bekannte und populäre Figur, der die Bevölkerung großen Respekt entgegenbrachte. Einige haben dieses Kurdenoberhaupt als ,,geistlicher sowie weltlicher Führer, amüsanter Plauderer, schlagfertig, vertraut mit der Literatur und Dichtung" charakterisiert. (Basri 1991:42)

Scheich Mahmud spielte während des Ersten Weltkriegs eine wichtige Rolle bei der Vertreibung der Russen über die iranische Grenze hinaus. Dennoch zeichnete sich eine unüberbrückbare Kluft zwischen ihm und seinen Verbündeten, den Osmanen, ab, als diese einige seiner Gefolgsleute unter der Anschuldigung der ,,Plünderung" erschossen. Diese undankbare Haltung der Osmanen veranlaßte Scheich Mahmud, dem Reich gegenüber einen neuen Kurs einzuschlagen. Aktiv und voll Elan führte er nun seine Pläne durch. Der Fortgang dieser Pläne sind die wichtigsten Augenblicke in der schmerzlichen Geschichte der Kurden. Im Rahmen dieses Beitrags ist leider nur eine knappe Darstellung der damaligen Ereignisse möglich.

Mit sicherem Gespür für die Gunst der Stunde kam Scheich Mahmud nach der Okkupation der Stadt Kirkuk im April 1918 durch die britischen Streitkräfte mit den kurdischen Notabeln und Stammeshäuptunge des Gebietes in der Stadt Suleymaniya zusammen. Auf diesem Treffen wurde entschieden, eine provisorische kurdische Regierung unter britischem Protektorat zu bilden. Damit war ein gigantischer Schritt auf dem Weg zu einem Kurdenstaat gemacht. Scheich Mahmud suchte nun die Unterstützung Großbritanniens und bat die damalige Weltmacht in einem Brief herzlich, ,,Kurdistan von der Liste der zu befreienden Völker nicht auszunehmen." (Review of the Clvii Administration of Mesopotamia 1920:59)

Großbritannien kam ihm entgegen. Der britische Gesandte Noel gab in Suleymaniya bekannt, daß sein Land Scheich Mahmud zum Gouverneur, zum kurdischen ,Hukumdar', des Distrikts ernannt habe. An diesem Tag wurde Scheich Mahmuds Amt von den örtlichen NotabeIn, Stammesführern der Region und der Bevölkerung gehuldigt. Es wurde außerdem vereinbart, daß Noel auch in anderen kurdischen Gebieten entsprechende Maßnahmen für deren Anschluß an das neue Kurdistan treffen werde. Nicht nur für die Engländer, die nun ohne militärische Operationen eine große Provinz indirekt beherrschen konnten, war diese Verständigung mit den Kurden von Bedeutung, sondern auch für die Kurden. Die türkischen Kriegsmaßnahmen hatten in Suleymaniya Spuren der Not hinterlassen. Wirksame britische Hilfe linderte diese Notlage immens. In Südkurdistan funktionierte die britisch-kurdische Verwaltung solange erfolgreich, wie das gegebene Gleichgewicht konstant blieb und es zu keinen Intrigen kam.

Scheich Mahmuds Einfluß erstreckte sich jedoch schnell bis zu den Kleinstädten Raniya und Rawanduz im Nordwesten des Landes. Auch kurdische Stämme aus dem iranischen Teil von Kurdistan hatten sich seiner Führung anvertraut. Die Ausdehnung der Einflußsphäre Scheich Mahmuds konnte sich unglücklicherweise keineswegs im Einklang mit den seit Mai 1919 beschlossenen englischen Plänen befinden, lediglich eine autonome Kurdenregion innerhalb des mesopotamischen Staates Irak zu schaffen, also keinen souveränen Staat, worauf Scheich Mahmud abzielte. Mit anderen Worten, die Ziele Großbritanniens und Scheich Mahmuds gingen nicht konform. Die Spannung zwischen ihnen wuchs seitdem kontinuierlich.

Aus britischer Sicht war die erzielte Kooperation mit den Kurden lediglich eine Handlung auf Abruf und keine langfristige Entscheidung, denn die schweren Kriegsfolgen hatten stark an Großbritanniens Kräften gezehrt, so daß sie entgegen ihrem Wunsch Südkurdistan militärisch nicht vollständig besetzen konnte. Ausschlaggebend war die Haltung des Scheichs, der sich nicht an alle Bestimmungen der Briten hielt und sich weigerte, als bloßer Untertan nur englische Befehle auszuführen. Unter diesen Umständen dürfte es kaum überraschen, daß die Engländer anfingen, Komplotte zu schmieden, um Scheich Mahmuds ständig wachsendem Einfluß schrittweise Einhalt zu gebieten. Zu diesem Zweck führten sie als erstes einen Personalwechsel durch der willensstarke Major Soane, der für seinen Haß auf Scheich Mahmud bekannt war und fließend kurdisch sprach, trat als Berater an die Stelle von Major Noel. Darüber hinaus unterstützten sie nach dem Prinzip teile und herrsche verstärkt die Rivalen des Kurdenführers. Durch solche Maßnahmen wurde das frostige Klima noch eisiger.

Zwei weitere Faktoren verschlechterten das Verhältnis zwischen den Engländern und den Einheimischen immens: Die außerondentlich hohen Steuern belasteten alle Schichten der Gesellschaft. Im Vergleich zur Zeit der Osmanen hatten sie sich fast verdoppelt. Hinzu kam die massive und übertriebene Propaganda der protürkischen Kreise, die unter den Kurden ein Horrorbild von den Briten und den Christen zeichneten.

In dieser Atmosphäre des Mißtrauens zeichnete sich eine gravierende Eskalation ab, als Scheich Mahmud sich gezwungen sah, auf eigene Faust seine Ziele zu verwirklichen. Am 21. Mai gelang es seinem Verbündeten, Mahmud Khani Dizli, mit einer sorgfältig geplanten Aktion die Stadt Suleymaniya militärisch zu besetzen. Darüber hinaus ließ Scheich Mahmud eine Flagge mit einem Mond auf grünem Untergrund aufziehen, eigene Briefmarken drucken etc. DieserVorfall ist von historischer Bedeutung: Es wurde praktisch der erste Staat auf den Trümmern des asiatischen Teils des zusammengebrochenen Osmanischen Reiches gegründet.

Daß diese Erhebung mehr als eine lokale Erhebung war, geht aus einem 1931 erschienenen Buch des damahgen britischen Hochkommissars, Sir Arnold Wilson, mit dem Titel A Clash of Loyalties hervor:
,,[...] die Erhebung breitete sich jenseits des persischen Territorium aus, und mehrere Stämme erhoben sich gegen die Regierung Persiens, erklärten sich als Panisanen von Scheich Mahmud und für seinen Plan für ein Vereinigtes Freies Kurdistan." (S.137).

Das Kurdenoberhaupt suchte ebenfalls seine Position militärisch zu festigen. Eine Person, die ungestraft zu solchen Entscheidungen und Vorgehensweisen imstande war, konnte den Engländern, die vitale Interessen in Kurdistan hatten, nicht recht sein. Unverzüglich reagierten sie mit einer überraschenden Großoffensive, deren entscheidende Schlacht am 19. Juni 1919 am Paß von Baziyan stattfand. In dieser Schlacht wurde Scheich Mahmud, der wie gewöhnlich persönlich am Kampfteilnahm, schwerverwundet hinter einem großen Felsen festgenommen. Seitdem wird der Fels Barde Qaraman, ,der tapfere Stein', genannt.

Das Ende der ersten Erhebung Scheich Mahmuds kam tatsächlich unerwartet, und wie ein Schlag. Der Malik (König), wie die Kurden ihn nannten, verkalkulierte sich bei seinem Krieg gegen die kriegserfahrenen Briten. Was er nicht in seine Erwägung einbezogen hatte, trat ein: Die englischen Streitkräfte starteten ihre Offensive nicht durch den einzigen Paß von Baziyan, wie Scheich Mahmud erwartete, sondern überquerten vor Tagesanbruch das unwegsame KaradagGebirge und griffen die völlig überraschten Kurden von hinten an.

Der festgenommene Scheich wurde vor ein Militärgericht gestellt, das er allerdings nicht anerkannte. Wilson schildert anhand einer Begebenheit zwischen ihm und Scheich Mahmud, wie dieser seine politische Position durch Zitate der Freiheitsversprechungen der Siegermächte des Ersten Weltkrieges erklärt habe: ,,Ich hatte ihn im Krankenhaus gesehen", erzählt Wilson, als er mit prächtigen Gesten die Kompetenz jedes militärischen Gerichts abwies, ihn zu verurteilen. Er zitierte mir den zwölften Punkt von Präsident Wilson, sowie die anglo-französische Deklaration vom 8. November 1918. Deren Übersetzung im Kurdischen war auf dem Vorsatzpapier eines Korans geschrieben, das wie ein Talisman an seinem Arm festangeschnallt war." (Wilson 1931:139)

Das Militärgericht verurteilte Scheich Mahmud trotzdem zum Tode. Das Urteil wurde aber nicht vollzogen, sondern kurze Zeit später in zehn Jahre Haft umgewandelt. Wilson, eine der bekanntesten Vertechter der Eingliederung Südkurdistans in den Irak, opponierte offiziell gegen diese Urteilsänderung mit der Begründung: ,,Solange Scheich Mahmud lebt, leben seine Anhänger in Südkurdistan in der Hoffnung, und seine Feinde in Angst vor seiner eventuellen Rückkehr; sein Tod würde mehr als jeder andere einzelne Faktor zur Wiederherstellung der Ruhe beitragen." (Wilson 1931:139)

Die Hoffnung auf Ruhe und Frieden durch die Verbannung Scheich Mahmuds auf die indische Andaman-Insel im Indischen Ozean erfüllte sich jedoch in Südkurdistan 191920 nicht. Im Gegenteil, es mehrten sich die Zeichen neuer Unruhen und lokaler Aufstände traditioneller Art in verschiedenen Teilen Kurdistans, die zwar getrennt voneinander stattfanden, aber gleiche Hintergründe hatten: Sie waren oft Ausdruck der Unzufriedenheit der Einheimischen mit den Engländern, richteten sich genauer gesagt gegen jede aufgezwungene Fremdherrschaft, die verstärkt durch die Einführung des direkten Herrschaffssystems nach der erwähnten gescheiterten Erhebung in Erscheinung trat. Dieses System provozierte die Stämme, die in ihrer jüngeren Geschichte fast nie einer Staatsautorität unterstellt waren.

Offensichtlich hielten sich die Briten Scheich Mahmud als Geisel für den Fall, daß sie ihn doch einmal brauchen sollten. Denn die englische Kurdistan-Politik war in dieser Zeit unentschlossen und wirkte weitgehend diffus. Unter diesen schwer durchschaubaren Verhältnissen trugen die Bemühungen Scheich Mahmuds reiche Früchte. Dem britischen Hochkommissar in Bagdad wurde im Juli 1920 ein Memorandum, das die Unterschrift von allen 62 Stammeshäuptlmgen und Notabeln der Gebiete Suleymaniya, Erbil und Mossul trug, übergeben. In diesem Memorandum forderten die sich als Führer des kurdischen Volkes bezeichnendem Würdenträger die Gründung eines unabhängigen Staates Kurdistan unter britischem Protektorat gemäß den britischen Versprechungen während der Kriegszeit. Fernersahen die Unterzeichner dieses Memorandums die Ernennung von Repräsentanten des Volkes von Kurdistan für die Friedenskonferenz in Paris als notwendig an.

Die Briten befürchteten nach dem Kriegsende die Gefahr eines militärischen Einfalls der Türken in den noch nicht genügend gefestigten ,,Irak". Ihn hätten sie allein aus eigener militärischer Kraft nicht überstanden. Das war in einer Zeit, als sich das Land, wie bereits angedeutet, in offenem Aufruhr befand und die Türken Anspruch auf das Wilayet von Mossul erhoben, das ohne die arabisch besiedelte Jazira das ganze Südkurdistan umfaßte. Nachdem Großbritannien trotz des Einsatzes von Brandbomben die Unterwerfung der z.T. mit türkischer Unterstützung operierenden aufständischen kurdischen Stämme nicht erreichte, sah sich die damalige Weltmacht gezwungen, eine neue Politik zu verfolgen, um zumindest die antibritischen Kurden wieder im Zaum halten zu können. Viele Anhänger Scheich Mahmuds hatten auch in dieser Zeit den Engländern Petitionen für seine Rückkehr überreicht. Großbritannien erklärte schließlich unter Druck der militärischpolitischen Lage seine Zustimmung zur Rückkehr des Scheichs . Dieser positive Schritt erleichterte anscheinend nicht den Abbau des aufgebauten Mißtrauens, obgleich die Zeichen äußerlich günstig für die Verwirklichung der kurdischen Träume standen.

Die kurdische Flagge wurde in einer großen öffentlichen Feierstunde erneut gehißt. Am 30. September 1922 traf Scheich Mahmud in Suleymaniya ein und wurde in euphohscher Stimmung königlich empfangen. Am 10. Oktober 1922 bildete der zurückgekehrte Scheich als ,,Hukumdar or Ruler of Independent Kurdistan" (Herrscher des unabhängigen Kurdistan), wie Edmonds (Edmonds 1957:307) ihn nennt, ein achtköpfiges Kabinett. Kaum waren zwei Monate vergangen (18. November 1922), als Scheich Mahmud sich zum König von Kurdistan ernannte und den Anspruch auf alle kurdischen Städte erhob. Seinen Bemühungen aberwa ren nach wie vor große Schranken gesetzt. Der König von Kurdistan verbuchte keinen dauerhaffen Erfolg. Vor allem deshalb, weil die sichere Bürgschaft des Bestehens eines Königreiches Irak, das Großbritannien schaffen wollte, in der Eingliederung Südkurdistans lag. Höchstwahrscheinlich ahnte Scheich Mahmud diese Tatsache. Folglich setzte er weniger auf die Briten. Erschwerend kam die Frage der Kräffekonstellation hinzu. Nach der Rückkehr Scheich Mahmuds waren in Südkurdistan die Türken und nicht die Briten die einflußreichste Macht.

Die Anwesenheit der Engländer war zu dieser Zeit derartig begrenzt, daß die protürkischen Kreise weiter großen Einfluß hatten. Die drohenden Flugblätter der Türken wurden in vielen kurdischen Gebieten allerorten verteilt, genossen sie doch die Unterstützung einer Reihe von Stammeshäuptungen. Wahrscheinlich  traute  sich Scheich Mahmud deshalb nicht, gegen die Türken in die Offensive zu gehen. wie die Briten von ihm erwarteten bzw. verlangten.

Die Engländer handelten ebenfalls. In einem weiteren Versuch, die Unterstützung der Kurden gegen die Türken zu erlangen, gaben sie zusammen mit den Irakern ein Kommuniqu heraus, das zwar die Rechte der Kurden auf die Gründung einer kurdischen Regierung innerhalb des lraks anerkannte. Es wurde jedoch bekräftigt, daß Südkurdistan Teil des Irak sei. Bei den Verhandlungen zwischen Scheich Mahmud und den Briten gelang fast nie eine Annäherung der Standpunkte. Konsequenterweise wandte sich der Scheich im Geheimen auch an die Türken sowie an die Russen in der Hoffnung, die notwendige Unterstützung von ihnen zu erhalten. Faktisch blieb er aber in Kontakt mit den Briten. Er ließ offensichtlich kein Mittel unversucht.

Die Spannungen wuchsen mit dem britischen Ultimatum vom 21. Februar 1923, wonach Scheich Mahmud sich innerhalb von fünf Tagen zusammen mit seiner Verwaltung den Engländern ergeben sollte. Vergeblich forderte der Kurdenchef mehr Zeit und verlangte weitere Erklärungen. Er brachte allerdings den Zusicherungen der Engländer kein Vertrauen entgegen, ihn achtungsvoll zu behandeln, wenn er dem Ultimatum nachkomme. Britische Flugzeuge bombardierten Suleymaniya am 3. März 1923.

Mitte Mai 1923 gelang es den Briten, Suleymaniya, die Hauptstadt des kurdischen ,Königreichs',ohne Widerstand zu besetzen. Im Juni wurde sie allerdings erneut von Scheich Mahmuds Armee, die den Namen Nationale Armee Kurdistans trug und unter dem Kommando von Majid Mustafa stand, eingenommen.

Nach der Rückeroberung Suleymaniyas durch die Nationale Armee Kurdistans ignorierte Scheich Mahmud die Mahnungen der Engländer. Sein Hauptquartier in Suleymaniya, so berichtet Edmonds (Edmonds 1957:350), wurde am 16. August 1923 mit den zum ersten Mal eingesetzten 220 Pfund schweren britischen Bomben bombardiert. Die Vorgänge nahmen erschreckende Ausmaße an. Scheich Mahmud mußte seitdem durch die Koordination der britischen und irakischen Bodenoffensive mit verstärkten Angriffen durch die Royal Air Force (RAF), vor allem im Dezember 1923 und Mai 1924, eine Kette von Niederlagen einstecken. Infolgedessen versuchte er noch intensiver auf Verhandlungen mit Großbritannien zu setzen.

Daß all seine friedlichen Bemühungen erfolglos blieben, ist eindeutig auf die starre Haltung und das Desinteresse der Engländer zurückzuführen, denen es gelungen war, das gesamte Kurdistan unter ihre Kontrolle zu bringen, und Suleymaniya, die Hochburg des nationalistischen kurdischen Widerstandes, am 19. Juli 1924 als irakische Provinz zu behaupten. Scheich Mahmuds Aktivitäten setzten sich auch in den Jahren 192526, also nach der Entscheidung des Völkerbundes, Mossul dem Irak zu zusprechen, in Südkurdistan und den grenznahen Gebieten zum Iran fort. Die Engländer mit ihren irakischen Verbündeten blieben und berieten oft unter Einbeziehung der iranischen Regierung über ihn, ohne ihm jedoch endgültig ein Ende bereiten zu können. Der Verhandlungsspielraum Scheich Mahmuds wurde immer enger. Erwähnenswert ist, daß Scheich Mahmud die erste Person im Irak war, auf dessen Tod und/oder Festnahme offiziell von den höchsten Gremien des Landes eine gewaltige Summe ausgesetzt wurde. Scheich Mahmud stellte bei den Verhandlungen immer wieder die Forderung, daß Großbritannien seine Versprechen gegenüber dem Völkerbund in Hinblick auf die kurdischen Forderungen und ihre legitimen politischen Rechte einlöse. Großbritannien verneinte permanent die Existenz solcher Rechte und erwiderte, daß der Völkerbund sich nicht für ein unabhängiges Kurdistan ausgesprochen habe. Erhabe lediglich festgelegt, daß Rücksicht darauf zu nehmen sei, daß die Beamten in Kurdistan Kurden sein sollen und Kurdisch die offizielle Sprache werde, was schon geschehen war.

Die militärische Unterlegenheit der kurdischen Seite brachte Scheich Mahmuds Bewegung in ausweglose Bedrängnis. Einmal verlangte er, ihm mindestens den Distrikt von Panjwin als Residenz für den Aufenthalt solcher Leute zu gewähren, die sich, wie er, für die kurdische Sache engagieren, Am 23. April 1927 kam es dort zu militärischen Gefechten zwischen den irakischen und britischen Streitkräften unterstützt von der RAF und Scheich Mahmuds Kämpfern, wo der Kurdenführer seine ,entscheidende Niederlage' durch den Verlust dieser Kleinstadt an der irakischiranischen Grenze erlitt. Mit dem Verlust Panjwins verlor er sein letztes Druckmittel. Spätestens seit diesem Zeitpunkt befand sich sein Stern im Sinken. Mine 1927 blieb ihm nichts anderes übrig, als sich den Behörden zu ergeben. Im Gewehrfeuervon Großbritannien und Irak zerplatzte letztendlich der Traum vom Königreich Kurdistan.

Doch die Gefahr der politischen Eskalation war keineswegs mit dem Ende der Bewegung Scheich Mahmuds gebannt, besonders als sich das britische Mandat über den Irak fristgerecht seinem Ende näherte. Gerade aus diesem Grund weiteten sich die Unruhen der Kurden außerordentlich aus. Sie fürchteten einen unabhängigen arabischen Staat, der ihre Rechte und Interessen nicht respektieren würde. Der Zweifel der Kurden war nicht durch die verschiedenen Versprechungen Großbritanniens auszuräumen. Die Kurden brachten ihre Unzufriedenheit zum Ausdruck, indem sie versuchten, die bevorstehenden Parlamentswahlen zu boykottieren. Aus diesem Versuch entwikkelte sich am 6. September 1930 ein Volksaufstand in Suleymaniya, der blutig durch irakische Truppen und Polizei niedergeschlagen wurde. Infolge dieser Unterdrückung versuchte Scheich Mahmud, wieder auf die politische Bühne zurückzukehren. Seinerseits fordere ererneut die Mandatsmacht auf, eine kurdische Regierung von Zakho bis Chanaqin, also die natürlichen Grenen des heutigen Irakisch-Kurdistans, unter der Mandatsherrschaft des Völkerbundes zu installieren. Als Konsequenz flackerten die Kämpfe in den östlichen Teilen des Distrikts Suleymaiya, in Panjwin, wieder auf. Anders als bei seinen vorangegangenen Erhebungen konnte er dieses Mal nur mit einer ca. 200 Mann starken Truppe kämpfen. Nach heftigen Gefechten in Aui Barika am 5. April 1931 zogen sich die aufständischen Kurden am 20. des gleichen Monats über die iranische Grenze zurück, wo sie auch vom Iran unter Druck gesetzt wurden, Diese Bewegung geriet verstärkt in eine perspektivlose Situation, was eigentlich den Untergang der Ära Scheich Mahmuds bedeutete.

Der ewig friedlose Irak blieb nicht verschont von den Einflüssen und Folgen des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Ein Putschversuch prodeutscher irakischer Offiziere zwang Großbritannien, den Irak Mitte 1941 erneut zu besetzen. Diese Vorfälle ließen Scheich Mahmud, der in dieser Zeit in Bagdad unter Hausarrest stand, die kurdischen Forderungen erneut erheben. Obgleich die Regierung einen Ausnahmezustand über Suleymaniya verhängte, vermied Scheich Mahmud nach Beratungen der politischen und militärischen Lage mit der Führung der HiwaPartei zusammen mit einer Anzahl von Stammesführern der Region, mit militärischen Mitteln für die kurdische Sache zu kämpfen. Auf Drängen des britischen Beraters Edmonds im irakischen Innenministerium, nahm Bagdad Gespräche mit Scheich Mahmud auf, die in ihren Tendenzen und Oualität einer Privatverhandlung entsprachen. Scheich Mahmuds allerletzter und verzweifelter Versuch, die Forderungen der Kurden auf völlig friedlichem Wege durchzusetzen, endete im August 1941 ohne erwähnenswerte Ergebnisse.

In den Morgenstunden vom Dienstag, dem 9. Oktober 1956, starb Scheich Mahmud im Haidary-Krankenhaus in der irakischen Hauptstadt Bagdad.
Die Nachricht seines Todes breitete sich wie ein Lauffeuer aus. Seine Beerdigung, die sich rasch zu einem nationalen Ereignis entwickelte, war von Protesten und großen Demonstrationen begleitet. Zehntausende Menschen geleiteten ihn zur letzten Ruhe.

Scheich Mahmud Barzinjie erlebte glorreiche und glänzende Augenblicke, sowie Iangwierige, leidvolle und traurige Zeiten. Seine Bewegung begann in einem recht bewegten Abschnitt der Weltgeschichte, dem Ersten Weltkrieg. In jenen Tagen war die Geschichte dabei, ihren Klammergriff um das umzingelte Volk der Kurden zu lockern. Darum waren die Erwartungen und Hoffnungen auf seinen Erfolg groß, so groß wie die Enttäuschung und Verbitterung danach.

ekurd.net    June 14, 2011

The French are winning Kurdistan's 'hearts and minds'
by Mariwan Salihi

In recent years, a good number of foreign consulates and embassy offices have opened up in Kurdistan Region, mainly because of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) good diplomacy, and the excellent economic opportunities that exist in this stable part of the Federal Republic of Iraq (and I use this term for the first time).

Erbil, the regional capital, hosts the consulate general of the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Egypt and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Countries, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have also plans to open their consulates in the city. Furthermore, Qatar, Lebanon and Kuwait have also showed their interest in the past, so do Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and a couple of other friendly nations. The Republic of Korea maintains an embassy office, while Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Italy hold economic or trade offices.

Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden have appointed honorary consuls in Kurdistan Region. The United States is represented by its Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT), but thanks to the passing of a Congressional Resolution last year a US consulate is scheduled to open in Kurdistan in the near future.

Of all these foreign representations, unfortunately, none is as active as the French consulate, and its detached French Cultural Center. Since their establishment in Erbil, both have widely opened their doors for the average local citizen, and residents from all around Iraq that have made Erbil their new home. The consul, Frederic Tissot, and the director of the French Cultural Center, Amelie Banzet, have already won the 'hearts and minds' of many Kurdish citizens. Believe it or not, but at times I think they are easier approachable than an average Kurdish official!

While most foreign representations are here for obvious economic reasons (or perhaps for their own political interests), the French are increasingly more involved in cultural and educational fields. They act as a floating bridge between Kurdistan Region and France, and besides their spread of the French language and culture, they also manage to help preserve the Kurdish language and culture, and much more.

"The French Cultural Center (Institut Français) has four classrooms, a library and a hall and offers a continuous stream of events and workshops. Cultural enlightenment is one of the center's primary goals," said a recent report from a Kurdish newspaper.

To add to this, the center offers educational and cultural programs, including lectures, workshops, classes, art exhibitions, dance performances, music recitals and cultural exchanges. So far, I have successfully participated in some of their programs and workshops, including a recent workshop with two well-known French photographers (Vincent Ohl and Quentin Caffier). It was a huge success, and all the other young, local participants benefitted as mush as I did. The workshop was concluded with an exhibition at the Minara Park in Erbil (which I, sadly, couldn't attend for personal reasons).

The Institut Français also hosts the French Language Learning Program, which provides students the opportunity to learn French. Nearly 100 students are currently enrolled. Furthermore, as one of only a few places in Kurdistan Region, the French consulate also provides citizens with the Schengen visa. That said, it's not that easy for the average Iraqi passport holder to obtain that service, but most applications have so far been processed successfully.

The main purpose of this lengthy column is to shed some light on a very important issue: foreign consulates have to do more in Kurdistan Region! In fact, most of them should learn a good lesson from the French. To them, I say: please, open your doors to the Kurdish people and show interest in the local culture (by providing the same programs as the French), because the people of Kurdistan are also interested in your country, language and culture. To have a long-term relationship with the Region and its people, you should build the same 'bridge' between your countries and here and not just build ties based solely on economical gains.

I can't wait one day to learn from a Russian photographer, a British journalist, or improve my Turkish or Farsi.

Merci France, for giving me and tens of others, the chance to enlighten ourselves more. I will certainly knock on your doors more often!

Mariwan F. Salihi, is a Netherlands national, a freelance journalist covering Iraqi and other Middle Eastern issues, and regular eKurd.net contributing writer. You may reach the author via email at: mariwan.journalist@gmail.com

ekurd.net June 29, 2011

Kirkuk, the world's saddest city
by Mariwan Salihi

Today, I was reminded of a scene I went through in late 2005. I was in the car with my father, driving from Erbil to Kirkuk. I was very excited, as it was going to become my first trip to the city of my birth; when we left Kirkuk back in 1991, due to the Gulf War and the failed uprising against the previous regime in that year, I was just a baby.

I did have 'some' vague memories of the city and life then, and the old photo's of the 1980s and early 1990s really helped me in creating a romantic image of the city. Kirkuk, back in the old days, was a wealthy, clean, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic urban center. As Iraq's fourth largest city (after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul), It was dubbed 'the city of brotherhood,' because of the peaceful coexistence of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians and Armenians in one area. Even when it came to religion, no one seemed to care if you were a Sunni or Shiite Muslim, a Christian or even a Jew (although, most left after the creation of Israel in 1948); Kirkuk was a 'mini Iraq,' a mosaic of all of Iraq's main ethnic and religious groups.
Mariwan Salihi
After 30 minutes or so from leaving Erbil, we arrived in the 'real Iraq' – the border between self-ruled Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq. The checkpoints were serious, although the Iraqi soldiers were very friendly and polite: they were from Kirkuk, after all!

I could see the barren landscape around Kirkuk, the flames from the rich oil fields, and signboards leading to Tikrit, Baghdad, Sulaimaniyah, or back to Erbil. Being extremely curios, my eyes were observing each inch of the area…but I was overwhelmed and shocked. Suddenly, I lost control of my emotions, and started to cry like a baby, like the baby that left Kirkuk during the war. I couldn't do anything, really anything, to stop crying. My father was surprised, as he never saw that much tear falling from my eyes. And I was begging myself from inside to stop crying, but I couldn't help it, while my father was trying to comfort me. My emotions wanted to be freed, so I just give them that luxury for that moment.

I was hurt, in fact I still am. The beautiful, and upscale, Kirkuk that I once knew, didn't appear in front of my tearing eyes. It was more or less a 'grey city' taken back to the Middle Ages. Well, it didn't actually seem to be a city anymore, it was an ugly village, I thought. There was so much destruction, that I wished I never asked to be brought there. Garbage was everywhere, the infrastructure was in a bad condition…there were few trees, and I could count the people on the streets on one hand. The houses were in such a dire need of help: they were screaming, I thought, to be bulldozed and not renovated! During that visit, Kirkuk seemed to be the saddest city in the world. So sad, that some people will tell you that they haven't smiled for at least two decades.

Who could I blame? Saddam? The Americans? The Turks, and their continuous interference in this city's affairs? The Kurdish government? The United Nations? Maybe North Korea or Cuba…but that didn't make much sense! My mind stopped thinking for a while.

Could this be the Kirkuk which my mom used to describe as Iraq's cleanest city? Yes, back days it used to get awards from the government for that, but not anymore! Could this be the city of one of the world's largest oil-fields? Could this be the ancient city, so famous for its beautiful thousands of years old citadel, and the birthplace of Prophet Daniel? Was Kirkuk, I wondered, still Iraq's fourth largest city (one million-plus inhabitants in its 'good days')? Of course not, Erbil has taken that title by now!

Due to the city's situation, most of its original inhabitants were forcibly, or voluntarily, displaced to Kurdistan, Europe, US or elsewhere around the world. The city's current population is somehow not the original – many Kurdish villagers and Arab settlers from southern Iraq have become 'Kirkukis today.

I refused to accept this reality, in fact, I asked my father why he brought me there. "This is not Kirkuk! Why did you bring me to this ugly place," the young Mariwan protested. But it was me who was disillusioned. All the signboards on the road were leading us to this city – to Kirkuk. At least, I thought, there's a 'Welcome to Kirkuk' sign. But perhaps, of all its visitors, I was the least who felt welcome there.

Ever since that trip, I have avoided to visit Kirkuk again. Yes, I have passed through it on the way from Erbil to Sulaimaniyah. But that's it. Even the outskirts of the city still haunt me while going to Sulaimaniyah: my grandmother and my two martyred uncles are buried in the main cemetery of Rahim Awa – visible from the main Kirkuk to Sulaimaniyah highway. The only thing I do then is remembering my childhood, and the good old times this martyred city has seen. I then make a quick wish, while the car is speeding at 180 km an hour: May God never take away those beautiful memories from me. And then, I dream, that a day will come that I can take my own yet-to-be-born children, and perhaps grandchildren, to see a changed Kirkuk. One of prosperity, brotherhood, harmony and everlasting peace.

Mariwan F. Salihi, is a Netherlands national, a freelance journalist covering Iraqi and other Middle Eastern issues, and regular eKurd.net contributing writer. You may reach the author via email at: mariwan.journalist@gmail.com

The Kurdistan Tribune    July 3, 2011

Where's Kurdistan's missing $4 billion?
by Michael Rubin

The story of the United Nation's Oil-for-Food program is tragic. Meant as a humanitarian program to support the war-weary people of Iraq, it came to symbolize not only Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's antipathy to his own people, but also UN administrators' venality and corruption.

Alas, Saddam's fall did not end corruption. Despite the poverty Iraqis suffered under Saddam, Iraq was never a poor country. The United Nations held billions of Iraq's money, and Saddam had hidden billions more. When the Baathist regime fell, the United States set up the $17 billion Development Fund for Iraq which included unspent Oil-for-Food money, Saddam's frozen assets, and proceeds from new oil sales.

Much of that money is now missing, and Iraqis are rightly indignant. A letter sent last month by the Iraqi parliament's Integrity Committee to the United Nations' office in Baghdad demands accountability, and accuses the United States of corruption. "All indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq, [and] that it was about $17 billion," the letter reportedly read.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) certainly wasted much money in poorly conceived development projects. (In full disclosure, I worked in the CPA but not in a financial or developmental capacity). There was disorganization, poor accounting, waste, and neither a cohesive strategy nor consensus about goals. The CPA did not, however, steal $17 billion; it mismanaged it. It should certainly be held accountable for that.

Some money did disappear. In the CPA's waning days, its administrator L. Paul Bremer transferred $1.6 billion in cash to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), slightly less than half of the money which the KRG demanded. The transferred Oil-for-Food money was to be split between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. That was not the only money transferred, however. According to family members and senior politicians, both leaders also received money from the American intelligence community and development funds from across the U.S. government. International donors provided additional cash. As Nechirvan Barzani stepped down from the premiership, he reportedly bragged that the KRG had $4 billion in the bank.

That cash and much of the rest transferred to the KRG now appears to be missing. While the money was meant to belong to the citizens of Iraqi Kurdistan, top political leaders in both major Kurdish political parties apparently transferred funds from the international payments into personal bank accounts. Granted, too often in Iraqi Kurdistan, leaders treated the treasury and personal bank accounts as interchangeable. The Korek cell phone company is the prime example. Its leaders apparently used several hundred million dollars in KRG money to purchase the national license. In effect, they used the Kurdish citizens' own funds for personal gain. Korek today may be worth billions of dollars. In a democracy, a company would have issued shares to provide start-up funds. The shares would reap profit or loss for investors. In Kurdistan, however, ordinary citizens assume the loss but family members of the political leaders monopolize the gain. In effect, they gamble without risk of loss. Assuming each Iraqi Kurdish resident received a share for what was, in effect, their forced investment in Korek, every individual in Kurdistan should now receive cash dividends for their share.

Assuming Nechirvan Barzani's account of a $4 billion surplus was accurate, then Kurds should demand accountability not only for the $4 billion, but for the interest and profit that $4 billion would generate. If senior Kurdish officials from both parties transferred any or all of that money into their personal bank accounts, then they should be accountable not only for the principle, but also for the interest, stock dividends, and profits from investments in companies and real estate. Kurds may not realize it, but they now own shares in companies in China, hotels in the United Arab Emirates, and stocks in American companies. If, for example, that $4 billion investment generated 5 percent profit per year which was reinvested, then in the last two years, the principle has grown by more than $400 million.

Both Masud Barzani and KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih have promised reform. Financial transparency must be at the top of their agenda alongside press freedom. Borrowing from government coffers is not legitimate; it is theft. When public officials seek personal profit from the public treasury while ordinary, non-politically connected citizens struggle to get by, they are not simply gambling or investing; rather, they are replicating the financial crimes Saddam committed against the Iraqi people.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Civil-Military Relations; and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Between 2002 and 2004, Rubin worked as a staff advisor for Iran and Iraq in OSD/ISA/NESA at the Pentagon, in which capacity he was seconded to Iraq.
A native of Philadelphia, Rubin received a B.S. degree in biology from Yale University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in history from the same institution in 1999. He has previously worked as a lecturer in history at Yale University, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and at three different universities in northern Iraq. Rubin currently provides academic instruction on regional issues for senior U.S. Army and Marine officers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute, 2001), co-author of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave, 2005), and co-editor of Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats (American Enterprise Institute Press, 2008).

ekurd.net    July 14, 2011

Inside the Other Iraq:
Iraqi Jews should return to their homeland Iraq
by Mariwan Salihi

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Last week, I received a very emotional email from a reader in Israel. The sender, Rachel, is an Iraqi Jew who was born in the northern city of Kirkuk. The 68-year-old woman replied to my earlier published column Kirkuk, the world's saddest city.

When Rachel was only eight years old, more than 60 years ago, almost the entire Iraqi-Jewish community immigrated to a newly created Jewish state. Between 1950 and 1952 most of Iraq's ancient Jewish community, from all parts of this multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, departed to Israel. At that period, there were nearly 150,000 Jews in Iraq, representing roughly more than 10% of the country's total population; although there are other sources that estimate their numbers during that period to be somewhere between 250,000 and 600,000.

Mariwan Salihi

The Iraqi Jewish community is one of oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities in the world. The Jews were first brought to Babylonia (modern-day Iraq) by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, more than 2,500 years ago, from their ancient homeland the Kingdom of Judah (today's Israel). When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, he brought the exiled Jews to Babylon, mainly to build his then magnificent city. As the Jews quickly integrated in their new 'homeland,' Babylon immediately became the center of Judaism – taking over Jerusalem's previous role. In fact, even the Talmud was compiled in Babylon (the ancient Biblical city that is located 90 km south of the capital Baghdad).

As civilizations died, and new ones were born, the overwhelming majority of Mesopotamia's Jewish community still continued to live in the area. Iraq's Jewish community did not only reside in and around Babylon (where today the city of Al-Hillah is located), but they were found from Zakho (Iraq's most northerly city, in Kurdistan Region), to Basrah (the country's southern most province). In the major urban areas such as Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk and Erbil, there were large Jewish populations, as well as in many towns and villages in Kurdistan. Moreover, Iraq is also the burial place of more than a quarter of all Biblical Prophets, among them the Jewish Prophets Daniel, Ezra, Ezekiel and Nahum.

After the creation of the Iraqi state in 1921 (then as the British-influenced "Kingdom of Iraq"), the country's Jewish population continued to play a major role in day-to-day life. Jews were represented in the parliament, and there were Jewish ministers. Jews were the country's wealthiest business community. Jewish singers, poets and painters were among the most popular in Iraq.

After the creation of Israel in 1948, and the subsequent Arab-Israeli War that year, Zionist movements encouraged many Iraqi Jews to leave the country and head to Israel. The main reason, according to many historians, is that the new government in Israel wanted to "fill their newly founded state with as many Jews as possible." As Iraq's Jewish community was one of the largest and most important in the world at the time, they were a clear target for those movements. To add to that, the rise of Nazism, anti-Zionism and Arab nationalism, also persuaded the Jews from leaving Iraq.

Today, there is a sizeable Iraqi-Jewish community around the world, numbering nearly half a million. Most of them have become citizens of Israel, while others opted to live in the United States, United Kingdom, other European nations, Australia, and elsewhere. Only an estimated 100 or so Jews continue to live in Iraq, most of them fearing to reveal their origins. That said, many Iraqi Jews, just like Rachel, hope to return one day to their country of origin – Iraq.

Since Iraq officially embraced "democracy" after the 2003 American invasion, the country's government has mostly been silent about the faith of Iraq's Jews. While Iraqi Kurds embrace any relation with Israel as 'welcoming' and 'vital', the country's majority Arab population is still reluctant about any official or unofficial contact with the Jewish state. Technically both Israel and Iraq are still at 'war' since 1948, although Iraqi nationals are no longer barred from visiting Israel, says the new Iraqi constitution. Many Iraqi Arabs, whether Shiite or Sunni, still see Israel as an 'enemy state,' the main reason being the anti-Israeli sentiment that has become part of life in most of the Middle East, and the wider Islamic world.

The time has come, that Iraq's policy towards Israel makes a different shift. For the sake of its Jewish population, it should not only try to start diplomatic ties with Israel, but it should at least promote the return of Iraq's Jewish community. Most likely, the majority will not return to Iraq, but it should always give them that option open. Iraqi Jews have never been enemies of this country, and they deserve to be part of the new Iraqi state, and the rebuilding of it. Throughout the last few years, I have received dozens of emails from Iraqi Jews in Israel and elsewhere, and they all seem to love Iraq more than the average Iraqi citizens.

If the Iraqi government is not interested in these ties at the moment, then the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should take that initiative, or at least start a debate about the issue with the Iraqi government. It's true that the KRG can not initiate diplomatic ties with any nation without the approval of the federal government in Baghdad, but it has enough powers to bring back the Kurdish Jews. And the time has also come that the KRG becomes frank about its relations with Israel, without being too secretive about it. By now, everyone knows that the KRG has had contacts with Israel in the past and by reading international and local media reports, it still does. For how many more decades can the Kurdish leadership hide this?

Now, Iraq has always been a melting pot of different ethnicities, religions and sects, why can't Jews be part of it anymore? Isn't the new Iraqi constitution the source that gives rights to all its citizens, including those who were persecuted in the past?

The Iraqi parliament is already busy with new laws enabling the Fayli Kurds (a minority group of Kurds who follow the Shiite sect of Islam) to return to Iraq. Most of them were deported to Iran during Saddam's regime between the mid 1970s and early 1980s for allegedly being Iranian nationals. They became 'stateless' people when both countries were claiming they were from the other. Now, the Iraqi parliament wants to bring them back and give them Iraqi nationality, as well as compensating them. If the Iraqi parliament is fair and really democratic, isn't it the right time they implement the same policies for the Iraqi Jews? Or perhaps, they aren't as 'valuable' as Kurds and Shiites? Ironically, the Fayli Kurds are a combination of both, who together seem to control most of today's Iraq's politics.

As for Rachel, she lost her husband three years ago and she has no children. Her only dream is, when she dies she will be buried in her hometown Kirkuk, in Iraq. Not in Israel…

Mariwan F. Salihi, is a Netherlands national, a freelance journalist covering Iraqi and other Middle Eastern issues, and regular eKurd.net contributing writer. You may reach the author via email at: mariwan.journalist@gmail.com

KRG.org     28 July 2011  16:20:17

The passing away of Hamayil Barzani, mother of President Barzani

Erbil, Kurdistan - Iraq (KRG.org) – It is with great sadness that we announce the passing away of Mrs Hamayil Barzani, wife of the late General Mustafa Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Liberation Movement, and mother of Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani. Mrs Hamayil Barzani, known with respect and affection as Hamayil Khan, passed away on Wednesday 27 July.

Hamayil Khan shared the long struggle of the Kurds to overcome tyranny and oppression. From the 1940s, she was a staunch adherent to the cause of democracy for the Kurdish people alongside her husband General Mustafa Barzani. Through decades of upheaval she made many sacrifices, was put under house arrest and was displaced from her home several times.

An official memorial service was held at the Sawaf Mosque in Erbil today. Members of the Barzani family, friends and public officials were in attendance. Memorial services are also being held in the major cities of Kurdistan and in several cities around the world.

In addition to expressing our condolences to the President of the Kurdistan Region and his family, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has declared a three-day mourning period starting today, 28 July, to honour the life of Hamayil Khan and her participation in the Kurdistan Liberation Movement.

Messages of condolence can be sent via the Kurdistan Region Presidency website contact page or via the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, dfr@krg.org

THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Vice President    28 Jul 2011

Biden’s Call to Kurdistan Regional Government President
Vice President Biden calls Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani
to offer condolences on the loss of President Barzani’s mother, Hamayil Khan.

Readout of the Vice President's Call to Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani

The Vice President today called Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani to offer condolences on the loss of President Barzani’s mother, Hamayil Khan, who passed away Wednesday. The Vice President told President Barzani that he wished he could have paid his respects in person and that his thoughts and prayers are with the Barzani family at this time.

iraq.usembassy.gov    July 28, 2011

Ambassador James Jeffrey on the Death of Hamayel Khan

I was saddened to learn of the death of Hamayel Khan, mother of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, and wife of the late respected leader, Mullah Mustafa Barzani.  The U.S. Embassy offers our heartfelt condolences to President Barzani and his family. We share their sorrow at the loss of this extraordinary woman who was for many difficult years an inspiration to her family and her people.

The Kurdish Globe   30 July 2011, 07:21 GMT

Hamayil Khan to Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani:
"As two of my sons, I ask you to work hand in hand
to make the Kurdish revolution a success and achieve the Kurdish nation's dreams."
Wife of legendary Kurdish leader passes away

Jalal Talabani: "She went through many hardships and lived in caves to achieve the goals of Kurdistan people."

Mrs. Hamayil Khan, the wife of Kurdistan's legendary resistance leader Mustafa Barzani, shared the long struggle of the Kurds to overcome tyranny and oppression.

Hamayil Khan, the wife of the late Gen. Mustafa Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Liberation Movement, and mother of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, passed away on July 27. After years of struggle with illness, she died at an Austrian hospital at age 85.

Hamayil Khan shared the long struggle of the Kurds to overcome tyranny and oppression. From the 1940s, she was a staunch supporter of the cause of democracy for the Kurdish people alongside her husband. Through decades of upheaval, she made many sacrifices, was put under house arrest and was displaced from her home several times.

Iraqi President and General Secretary of Patriot Union Kurdistan, Jalal Talabani, speaking at her funeral, described her as passionate for Kurdish cause and very intelligent. "The last time I met her, she told me and President Barzani, 'As two of my sons, I ask you to work hand in hand to make the Kurdish revolution a success and achieve the Kurdish nation's dreams.'"

"She went through many hardships and lived in caves to achieve the goals of Kurdistan people," said Talabani.

Hamayil Khan accompanied her husband to Iran in 1944 where the Kurdish movement was gathering forces to establish the short-lived Mahabad (Kurdistan) Republic in 1946, and there gave birth to Massoud Barzani.

A Kurdish man visits Sawaf Mosque to offer his condolences to the family of Hamayil Khan, President Massoud Barzani

On July 28, an official memorial service was held at the Sawaf Mosque in Erbil. Members of the Barzani family, friends and public officials were in attendance. Memorial services are also being held in the major cities of Kurdistan and in several cities around the world. To express their condolences to the president of the Kurdistan Region and his family, the Kurdistan Regional Government declared a three-day mourning period starting July 28, to honor the life of Hamayil Khan and her participation in the Kurdistan Liberation Movement.

President Massoud Barzani received many condolence letters from politicians in the Region and Iraq. Most notably, was from US Vice President Joe Biden Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Jordanian Foreign Minister Naser Joda and as well from all the embassies in Iraq.

PNA    July 31, 2011

President Barzani's Statement After the Funeral Services of His Mother

PNA-Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq,Following the funeral service of his late mother, in a statement President Masoud Barzani expressed his gratitude and appreciation for all who attended the funeral service or sent their condolences.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Allow me to begin by expressing my thanks to God for his support during the funeral of my mother, Hamayil Khan. I am thankful that the funeral ceremonies were peaceful and smooth.

Thanks to those who attended the funeral services in Erbil, Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk, Dohuk and elsewhere around the world, as well as the government and party officials from the Iraqi Federal and Kurdistan Regional governments.

My thanks also go to the friendly world leaders, to the diplomats of both Baghdad and Erbil for having sent their condolences to us on the occasion of the passing away of my mother.

Our gratitude must also be directed towards our Arab, Turkmen and Chaldean, Assyrian brethren who participated in the funeral services, solidifying in the process our brotherhood.

It is our hope that this occasion will bring us closer to solving the outstanding issues between us and the federal government in Baghdad. And that this occasion will further unite us here in Kurdistan, which was an aspiration of my late mother, who in her own way was a part of the political process and the founding of the Kurdistan Region, as well as the New Iraq.

We are pleased that the sad death of my mother was the reason to bring the people of Kurdistan closer together, despite our differences. I would like to say that the kindness that was displayed during the past few days by our beloved people of Kurdistan shall never be forgotten.

I would like to express my special thanks to my brother, President Jalal Talabani who was present during the whole process, from receiving the coffin of my mother at the airport to the burial ceremonies in Barzan and to being by my side during the following days.

On behalf of myself and my family, I would like to promise the people of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region that we will continue our work in the service of peace, democracy, justice and development. All of our abilities shall remain devoted to achieving the aspirations and aims of our people, without exception.

May God bless and protect all of you.
Masoud Barzani


Hamayil Khan, Lady Hamael Mahmoud Agha Zebari