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May 4, 2011

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Nawshirwan Mustafa warns of beating fratricidal war drums

Kurdishaspect.com - By Shwan Zulal

"You Know what we want and we  know what you want", Nawshirwan  Mustafa (opposition Gorran  Movement leader) tells both  incumbent parties of PUK(Patriotic  Union of Kurdistan and KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Union). He  reiterates Gorran's demands and  says, "We want comprehensive and  systemic reforms by changing the  one party government as it stands- PUK controlling Slemani (Sulaimaniyah) and KDP, Erbil and Dhok area-to one national viable government ". 

The opposition leader, Mustafa used to be PUK deputy leader and split up from PUK to set up a new progressive political movement in Kurdistan Region demanding reforms and transparency. Considering the proportional share of the vote from the last Kurdistan Region Elections, Gorran movement would be the second largest party, nevertheless; due to the strategic agreement between PUK and KDP and the Bloc voting system, A PUK and KDP coalition government is in place with the majority in Kurdish parliament. 

After Gorran movement splintered from PUK, the party has become very fragile and lost most of the moderate vices. PUK was known to be the progressive force in Kurdish politics nevertheless, after Gorran movement came apart from it, the party leaders reverted to their conservative roots as part of KDP. As time moved on since the last elections, PUK have become a more regressive movement and aligned itself with KDP. Although KDP may look polished to an outsider but the party is based on tribal principles and its leadership is hereditary. Unless someone is a Barzani, it is not possible to become party leader.   

Majority of the Kurdish public does not accept this ideology and yearn for a more progressive force to run the country. PUK was once a promising to end the clannish nature of politics in Kurdistan but they have failed to do so and this mantel has moved to Gorran now. In his latest speech, Mustafa criticises PUK and KDP for being regressive and resisting change. 

He also accuses them of using their position in power to affect the result of the last Kurdish parliamentary elections. He refers to the fact that militia forces were used to put pressure on the voters and attacked different opposition offices. Moreover, "PUK and KDP have started to threaten the other parties' supporters by shooting at their offices and political activists." Furthermore, he accuses the incumbent parties of using the government apparatus to influence the voters by rewarding and reprimanding government employees accordingly.

Gorran movement was approached by PUK and KDP after the elections to take part in the government, but along with the other two opposition parties, mustafa opted to stay in opposition. Many commentators were sceptical about his motive as there were not any effective opposition in Kurdistan before and this was a new experiment. Two years on, the public and commentators are all in unison, agreeing that the opposition have been surprisingly effective. KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) has functioned much better as the opposition parties have been very vocal in their criticism through parliament and their media outlets. They have put pressure on the government and hold it to account. Nevertheless, according to Mustafa the Public's thirst for reform is not quenched and they demand more reforms on an accelerated pace. Mustafa blatantly accuses PUK and KDP of looting the government resources to enrich their political parties. He adds that after the Iraqi election and many disappointments due to the failings of the government and lack of progress in carrying out reforms "... the public have started to lose faith in oppositions' effectiveness within parliament and their ability push for reforms ... and the public have once again started to mobilise itself again". He contributes the main factors in public anger spilling into the streets to the killing of 23 year old freelance journalist and student, Sardasht Uthman and the introduction of new demonstration laws in KRG. 

In the speech the leader of the opposition, accuse PUK and KDP of scaremongering as they have been talking about fratricidal war. Due to the nature of both incumbent parties' makeup as they both have in excess of 50000 armed forces, Mustafa makes it clear in his speech that any such parties will never accept defeat in any election because they have their forces in their disposal. Mustafa adds: "The danger of a fratricidal war comes from the parties with armed militia and not those without (referring to the opposition parties)." Therefore, one of his main points he is making is that the political parties must all be stripped off their militia and a national army must be formed without any political influence.  

Protesters and opposition demands are crystal clear, only PUK and KDP supporters does not understand them. The demands are legitimate and even educated supporters of the government acknowledges it, but they are resisting change, because of personal interests, rather that believing in any ideology. The current political system is unsustainable and failing to change it, would lead to more adversity for a nation, which have always been undermined.   

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