Kurdistan issues in press interviews: KRG riddled with corruption and parochial party politics

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution May 26, 2008 Kurdistan issues in press interviews: KRG riddled with corruption and parochial party politics

Kurdishaspect.com - Translated by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli

Interview with member of Kurdistan Communist Party political bureau Subhi Mahdi

Translated from //Aso, Kirkuk , daily newspaper in standard Kurdish, 19 May 08, p5//

In an interview with Aso, member of the political bureau of Kurdistan Communist party (KCP) Subhi Mahdi talks about a number of important party and political issues concerning KCP and reveals some hidden aspects of the recent conference of the party.

Where is the KCP heading after the conference? In his reply to this question Subhi Mahdi says; “The holding of party conference is, for any political party, an occasion for the review and self-assessment of the main policies of that party; it defines new mechanisms for action for the next stage and elects a new leadership. Our party has a bigger and more important responsibility after the conference especially in the context of the complexities of political, economic and social life that emerged after the downfall of the regime, the softening of the violent conflicts between Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), increased tension with Baghdad and neighbouring countries, and the impotence of [Kurdistan Region] Government in dealing with the basic needs and problems of the citizens such as water, electricity, health services, rising inflation, corruption and so on. Our party must be prepared at this stage to make good progress towards achieving its aims. The way a religious person equips himself with a strong belief to pass the test of the other world, the party must be armed with the same belief and determination in the real world in order to translate the recommendations and decisions of the conference into practical achievements, activate its leadership team and become firmly repositioned with the masses of people.”  Mahdi believes that communist ideology is not fading away because its source is Marxism and the progressive culture of many peoples. Although Marx died many decades ago, in the last few years many thinkers and scientists have renewed their belief that Marx’s ideas and philosophy has a lot of power for big changes. He said;” But this thought needs to be practised according to the specific reality of each society. We all acknowledge the fact that the [former] Soviet experience and that of the [former socialist] Eastern Block failed. But this is the failure of one model of building socialism. In spite of this collapse, tens of communist parties in different countries are coming back and people vote for them because they are reviewing the ideology, politics and mechanism of their work and are becoming innovative in spite of some temporary setbacks here and there.” 

Is it possible to change the name of the Communist party? Is there such a suggestion? Mahdi replies: “Conference is the highest [decision-making] authority. Everything was discussed in the conference including the name of the party. But only a small minority supported this proposal [to change the name]. It had the support of only seven per cent of the conference’s votes. But some concepts and clauses in the political programme and procedures of the party have been changed. One of these changes is to afford opportunity to party members to publish their own political and ideological view points on the basis that the party has known ideology and political line.” About the reasons for the diminishing activities of the Communist party, he says: “Every party has activities according to its capacities and the number of its party and popular structures. According to this criterion, our activities have increased. But because our media channels are local we have not been able to inform people of Kurdistan about all our activities. On the other hand, our party was very busy last year with preparation for the local conferences and the fourth party conference.”

On the position of KCP about the performance of Kurdistan Region Government (KRG), he says:” KCP supports the rule of law and the institutionalisation of the framework of power. We favour the existence of a government with defects and failures than lack of government or rule of militias and anarchy. Our participation in KRG was, from the first cabinet until now, based on this thinking Furthermore we consider KRG a result of our won sacrifice and struggle. We will not work to break it up; we will not plot against it. We won’t try to ruin what has been achieved so far.” Nevertheless he added:” It is clear to us that the government and its bodies are not up to the needs of people. There is corruption. There is narrow party politics. People are not employed on the basis of qualification and skills. The problems of people are not solved. There are many other problems. We have criticisms. But we will not like an irresponsible person throw stones at windows of government offices or a school. But we present our criticisms directly in meetings with officials, by submitting memoranda and proposals, by writing in newspapers and voicing our views through other media channels. We present our critiques and suggest solutions. If we failed to achieve results in this way, then there are other ways open to us.” 

There are martyrs of KCP, famous martyr registered as normal martyrs. Their families blame KCP for being careless about them. On this issue KCP political bureau member says: “Some of our martyrs’ families receive salaries. Others have been allocated residential land. But still we have many partisan martyrs who have not been counted. Their families have been given neither martyrdom allowances nor land.” He added: “In addition, there are hundreds of veteran peshmargas who have not been given any assistance when the leaderships of these two parties [KDP and PUK] are very well aware of the roles and heroisms of our martyrs, veteran peshmargas and political prisoners. They name all these roads and streets, do you think that they have never heard of heroes such as Jamal Haidari, Shekh Ali Barzinji, the martyr Jawhar Ali Klashinkof, Ali Haji, Mahmud Hasan, Abu Viyan and tens of other leaders? We have hundreds of peshmargas and [former] militants who are still deprived of their rights in spite of writing many memoranda, letters and requests, they have still not responded to us. We will continue in our efforts until their rights are given. This happens when everyone knows that our party has had vanguard role in all the revolutions and uprisings.” On this same issue Subhi Mahdi asks: “If we are partners in struggle and sacrifice, why shouldn’t we been partners in enjoying rights? Only government officials can answer this question.”

About the financial sources of the KCP he says: “As it is defined by the internal rules of the party, finances of the party consist of the subscriptions and donations by members, donations by friends and supporters of the party, income generated by party’s activities and the financial support we get from KRG. This support was decided 10 years ago and it is not up to the needs of the present time. It is neither in line with the level of the weight, history and struggle of the Communist Party.”

Answering to my question: why did the Communist Party leave the alliance it had with the other four Kurdish parties [Kurdistan Islamic Union, Kurdistan Social Democratic Party, Kurdistan Toilers Party and Islamic Group (Komala)], the political bureau member of ICP said: From the beginning we were not participants in the discussions for the drawing up of the project they have produced. Later when they sent the draft of their project to our party, we had observations about the method of its presentation and the timing when with the efforts of all political groups a High Commission of Kurdistan Political Parties had been established for preparing the way for dialogue, expression of opinions and criticisms and coordinating efforts for the solution of the problems. We take into consideration the conditions that surround Kurdistan today and take the threats poised against KRG seriously, such as our problems with the regional countries and our problems with Baghdad .  All this gives us a responsibility that makes us offer more than what is mentioned in such memoranda and projects but the timing and method of expression will be different.”

About the role of women in the leadership of the Communist Party, he said:” We have had and we have now women in our leadership. But we are not satisfied with the number we have now. It should have been more. But in the conference the right of every member to stand for election and vote is protected. A good number participated, became candidates and voted. But unfortunately not enough members were successful. The reason for this is that in spite of the progressive outlook of our political programme to the issue of women. We are after all part of this society. There is the impact of reactionary customs. I personally support the method of allocating quota for women in leadership teams. In our programme we accepted this method and decided the percentage of women in the political process and power formations should be raised from 25 per cent to 35 per cent. But in practice we were no able to implement this vision. This is one of our shortcomings although the results are not the same and differ from one area to another.”

About the issue of factionalism within the KCP, Subhi Mahdi says: “I will be absolutely truthful with you there are no factions and factionalism within our party. This does not mean that there are no differences in opinion and approach. But there are no factions in the sense that a group of party members have their own organisational entity and share identical views, ideas and methods of work. But differences in political opinion and ideas have not prevented participation. Members of the party have total freedom to express their opinions and differences within their party positions. We consider differences as a modern phenomenon that creates activity. Differences are solved according the principles of our party through majority vote and all must abide by the party’s decisions with maintaining the right of expressing differing ideological and political views in the internal party publications.”

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