"> An Interview With the President of Washington Kurdish Institute Dr. Najmaldin Karim

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution January 13, 2008 An Interview With the President of Washington Kurdish Institute Dr. Najmaldin Karim

Rudaw

The president of Washington Kurdish Institute, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, in an interview with Rudaw, said that he disagrees with the idea that New President-elect Obama will not be as good as George W. Bush for Kurdish, "Both democrats and Republicans are working to protect American interests, but the democrats are better when it comes to human rights and democracy issues, " said Dr. Karim. 

Dr. Karim also said that his visit to Kurdistan is not to take any post in the region’s administrations,  "but if I’m asked to do something to serve my people it is my duty to do it weather it is prime minister position or any other post" he said.

Rudaw : There are different reports about your recent visits to Kurdistan. We would like to hear the reason of your visits from yourself.

Dr. Karim:  I am from Kurdistan and I’m visiting my country. I have friends and relatives in Kurdistan. My visit is normal like many others who come back to their country.

Rudaw:  Have you been officially invited or it is personal visit?

Dr. Karim : I don’t need any official invitation; whenever I want I will come back to Kurdistan because it is my country.

Rudaw:  You accompanied (Iraqi President Jalal) Talabani to visited (Kurdistan Regional President) Massoud Barzani. There were some reports that you might be a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, candidate for Prime Minister. Do you confirm those news reports? 

Dr. Karim:  It is not the first time that I see both Talabani and Barzani together. Both of them have visited my house together many times. We have Prime Minister (Nechirvan Barzani) and he is doing his job successfully. There was nothing about replacing him.

Rudaw:  But last year you said that you are ready to run any post if you are asked?

Dr. Karim:  I am not looking for post. I have my job to live with and I have political activities that take most of my time. But if I am asked to do something to serve my people, regardless of the level of the post, it is my duty to take it.

Rudaw:  Was there any kind offer in this regard?

Dr. Karim:  As I mentioned we have a Prime Minister and there is no plan to replace him right now. I have great respect to Prime Minister Mr. Nechirvan.  He is doing good job.

Rudaw:  Have you considered taking a post and work in Kurdistan?

Dr. Karim:  There is no difference. The important thing is to serve your people whether it is outside or inside. It is true that I have worked outside with different people and organizations for many years. I have worked with (the U.S.) governments and congress. What is important is to do something successful. I do not look for jobs. If you are asked for a job to serve your people you have to do it. 

Rudaw:  Have you ever been offered a post by Barzani or Talabani?

Dr. Karim:  No.

Rudaw:  Qubad Talabani is the representative of Kurdistan Regional Government the United States, but you have been involved in most of the diplomatic affairs. It is said that you are the man who runs the tasks of KRG in the United States. Is this true?

Dr. Karim:  No. Qubad is my friend and we talk to each other many times. He always helps us in our work and sometimes if he has a question we help him. But he has the ability to do his job successfully.

Rudaw:  Some people are complaining that KRG office in Washington that it, while they have a good budget, has not been able to introduce the Kurdish issues to America’s political and media arena. 

Dr. Karim:  It is much better to discuss this issue with Qubad Talabani... They have good relation with the politicians in the U.S. They meet people in the congress and in the media as well.

Rudaw:  To which extent these relations had positive effect on Kurdish-American relations? For example there is no American company in Kurdistan region and American media don’t, positively, write on Kurdistan.

Dr. Karim:  American media write negatively about President Bush as well. They might write (negatively) on Obama too. The same thing happens with the Kurds. Regarding the presence of American companies in Kurdistan there are shortcomings. We do not have some good mechanism to deal with those who come to this region, it could be fixed. The most important point is that America directs its people not to go to unsafe area of the world. They consider Iraq unstable and they have not separated Kurdistan region in this regard. This is why American (businessmen) afraid to come to Kurdistan. 

Rudaw:  Many people here believe that the U.S. is involved in the problem of the disputed areas problem and that it responsible for not solving the issues. 

Dr. Karim:  This is right to some extent, but not entirely. Part of it is our fault. During the administration of (Prime Minister Nuri) Maliki and other cabinets of Iraqi government which they were very weak and they needed Kurdish support. Without Kurdish support Maliki could not stay in his post.  At that time we did not put any condition on him in return. 

Maliki is an Arab and has his own people and in order to win the (upcoming) elections he must show them that he is tough with the Kurds. 

Regarding article 140 we should look at our works.  I believe we have short comings. We scared some people in Kirkuk with our works. Our representatives in Kirkuk have not done their work as should have been done. We have to be good with the Turkmen in Kirkuk. America wants this issue to run slowly, although they had to say that article 140 exists and it should be implemented, mean while they have tried hard to delay article 140.

But we have a constitution that is clear. It is our responsibility us to try hard to inplement the constitution. 

Rudaw:  The head of Shia Alliance said Maliki is not responsible of for the delays in implementing article 140, but the Presidency Council and President Talabani in particular are responsible of not implementing article 140. What is your opinion on that?

Dr. Karim:  It is not true, president Talabani has insisted on implementing the article. But spending money is under Maliki's control to organize census and referendum. According to the constitution president doesn’t have executive power, Maliki is responsible to sign for spending any money.

Rudaw:  Don't you think that article 140 is dead and Kurdish leadership has agreed on power sharing in Kirkuk, 32 percent for each of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen, which is supported by Talabani?

Dr. Karim:  Article 140 does not die…, but we need to work harder for it. Concerning sharing power, it is good to assure other people until the article 140 is implemented. As far as I understood sharing power does not include (province’s) governing council, but 32 percent of employee is for each nations. The number of Kurdish employee is very little in many sectors. Sharing power is useful for Kurds. 10 percent of employees of oil sector are Kurds. We have to do some other things after applying article 140 such as in terms of language, and we need to include Turkmen language in Kurdish constitution as a formal language.

We expect these areas to vote for annexing with KRG. Let's try to share the post of governorate with each two years for Kurds, two years for Arabs and two years for Turkmen, and the same with governing council. We don't need to be afraid of KRG deputy Prime Minister being an Arab or Turkmen. If we found a good Turkmen in the parliament, there should not be any fear of him is he becomes spokesman of the parliament. We need to do something to attract people and get them away from Turkmen Front or other groups that scares people from Kurds.

Rudaw:  Don't you think that finally Kurdish leaders will accept Kirkuk as independent region?

Dr. Karim : No, I am sure Kurdish leaders will not accept this and I have asked them about this.

Rudaw:  What is an American criticism towards Kurdistan?

Dr. Karim:  I am talking about media, because you do not hear officials a lot. If you look at the American media there are waves of accusations against Kurds. Without double checking they believe that Kurds have controlled power in Kirkuk and Mousl. They do not talk about the constitution in Iraq which has been approved by the majority of Iraq and that one of the articles of the constitution asks displaced people to return to their original places, then holding referendum to determine the future of these areas. 

They don’t want article 140 to be implemented and want those areas to be part of Iraq or Kirkuk becomes an independent region. These things are contradictory with Kurdish interests. Lately when the Christians were being killed and tortured in Mousl, Kurds were protecting them. But there are Christian representatives in America who accused Kurds of killing Christians. These accusations are not true. These are some people… who believe Iraq is only for Arabs and there should be a strong central government. 

There are other criticisms on corruption. This is a very negative point for us and hurts us. Although it is not mentioned every day, because American people does not know how small Kurdistan is and where is the corruptions. We face this criticism during our discussions with the officials. 

Rudaw:  Often there are voices against Kurds in the American media, for example one of a recent New York Times editorial. 

Dr. Karim:  New York Times is a famous newspaper and has many readers. It is the duty of KRG representative in Washington to correct these things. Things have been done in terms of sending letters to New York Times to clarify the facts. But for the corruption, we have to correct ourselves because … it is bad and makea our people angry.

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