Kurdistan issues in press interviews: head of Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party Diyar Gahrib

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution July 8, 2008 Kurdistan issues in press interviews: head of Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party Diyar Gahrib

PKK's strategic choice is peaceful political dialogue not armed struggle

Kurdishaspect.com - Translated by Dr Kamal Miarwdeli 

Interview with head of Kurdistan Democratic Party Solution by Ara Ibrahim: "PKK has the right to continue its struggle in north Kurdistan and to take advantage from south Kurdistan land." 

Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party was established in 2002 and they still do not have formal license from Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In a meeting with Hawlati the head of the party Diyar Gharib Muhammad asserts that the Kurdish cause is one and not four separate issues. He says that Kurdish political parties and groups should see establishing connections and relations with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) and Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party as essential. He thinks that the [strategic] agreement between Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan {PUK} is a weak one. He asks them to avoid one list elections and participate in the next elections as separate parties. He then demands that they are permitted to work as a formal Kurdish party.

Kurdish cause is one not four issues

[Hawlati]  Although Kurdistan has been divided up over four different countries for over 80 years and each part has some sort of specific character and conditions, yet, from your point of view, the Kurds have only one issue and you look at the Kurdish problem in all parts of Kurdistan with the same eye. How do you explain this?

[Diyar Gharib]  We believe the Kurdish issue is not four separate issues. It is one. We see the Kurdish issue from one unified vision. Most of the parties and political groups in south Kurdistan separate the Kurdish issue in the north and east [Kurdistan] from that of the south. In the north there was the same thinking before, but now gradually a vision is developed that Kurdish question is one issue not four separate ones. PKK has been vanguard in promoting this vision. Kurdish question in all parts is interconnected. 

A positive gain in one part will have positive impact on the other parts, and vice versa. This is our vision and we work in line with this vision. We believe that the relations between Kurdish organisations in one part with those in other parts are necessary. We always appeal for fraternity and co-operation with Arab, Turk and Persian brothers. But indeed we seldom call for fraternity and peace among ourselves. This vision connects us with PKK.

Founders of the party

[Hawlati]  There is a lot of talk among people that you are part of PKK. How can you prove that you are not part of PKK?

[Diyar Gharib]  We do not deny that the majority of the founders of Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party have been members of PKK before and we worked as PKK cadres. There are also people who were before members of PUK, KDP or the Communist Party but have joined us now. What brings us together is one idea and belief not tribal or regional loyalty. We have come together as a nationalist vision and project. The reason that we are identified with PKK comes from two factors: first we have made use of PKK?s ideas and approaches and we take the national issues as our principles and priority. We don?t find anything wrong in this. We have parties who claim to be social democrats. Social democracy has not been originated in Kurdistan. Why is it not wrong or shame if they are guided by an idea originating from the West, but it should be shame for us if we for our ideological principles benefit from PKK?s ideas? We believe that they (PKK) have a new experience that has prevented the repeat of Kurdish past setbacks.  If we look at the previous Kurdish uprisings we see that all those movements started, showed great heroism and made sacrifices but they end up either by defeat or surrender. But PKK has understood and overcome this experience from both theoretical and practical viewpoints. We believe that this experience is the best for the self-determination of our people.

PKK strategic choice is peaceful political struggle 

[Hawlati]  How do you view PKK? Or to put it another way how do you view the armed struggle of PKK and PJAK. Don?t you think that armed struggle is outdated and Kurds cannot solve their problem in this way? Isn?t it better to choose the method of dialogue?

[Diyar Gharib]  As far as I am aware, read PKK literature and see their statements, PKK do not consider armed struggle essential for their struggle. PKK consider peaceful struggle as its strategic choice. It resorts to armed force only as its right to protect itself. 

If we want to assess PKK we must assess its political programme. Some people claim that PKK is pursuing violence and does not want peace. Those who say this are without conscience. So far PKK has made five initiatives for peace with Turkey and declared unilateral ceasefires. The side that wants war and does not respond to PKK?s peaceful demands is Turkey. PKK is not fighting out of choice. Neither does it like fighting. We [in south Kurdistan] when we fought the Ba?th regime before 1991, the reason was that it did not recognise our rights. If the Iraqi government then recognised our rights we would not fight. Then some people say that fighting is an outdate mode of struggle. But in today?s world there is still a strong role for force in politics. If it were not for the role of force, the US would not have brought 200,000 soldiers to Iraq. The US claims that it brings democracy [to Iraq and the region]. Then why has it brought such big force? Those who say that the role of force is over and want to impose this notion on our people; they in fact want to strip us of our identity. We must not accept this. If the international system does not accept force and is capable of solving all the problems of the world via dialogue, then we too as a nation denied their rights, would also give up our arms. Those forces [in Kurdistan region, KDP and PUK], who have been demanding that PKK should be disarmed, claim that they need 100,000 peshmargas. If the fashion of force is over, then why do you need such excessive number of peshmargas? Furthermore you have illegally registered thousands of armed persons- for what purpose? 

Misinformation and misconceptions

[Hawlati]  KDP and PUK say that the existence of PKK armed force in this side of Kurdistan will create problems for them. They think that PKK should realise that they (KDP AND PUK) do not want to face trouble and harm because of the presence of PKK and PKK should not use these areas to attack Turkey. This demand by KDP and PKK is related to international treaties. Do you think this is a just and logical demand?

[Diyar Gharib]  There is misinformation in this respect. PKK has not fought Turkey from [its bases in] south Kurdistan. If we listen to the news and PKK statements, there is ongoing fighting in Diyarbakir, Dersim and other areas [in north Kurdistan]. I know that PKK has forces in the birder areas but it has not launched any attacks from these areas. If KDP and PUK claim that they were not in the past in the same condition that PKK is facing now, they are not telling the truth. We all are the sons of this nation. We know how it is. We know that Serdesht in east Kurdistan faced chemical attack [by Saddam?s regime] because of the actions of PUK and KDP. Still [Iranian Kurdish parties] Kurdistan Democratic party of Iran 9KDPI) and Komala have their quarters based here [in Kurdistan region]. If PUK, KDP and other parties did not use the land of Kurdistan in east, north and west, they would not have been able to advance their struggle. We see that we have the same right. What we consider a right to us we muse equally se it as a right to the other side. From this point of view, I see injustice here. The enemies of Kurdistan have divided up our country into four parts. Turkey and Iran and other countries do not want the Kurds in any of these countries to obtain their national rights and achieve nothing. This means that even if these countries disagree on everything else, they agree on the Kurdish issue. This entails that we too as Kurdistani groups come together. PKK has right to continue its struggle in north [Kurdistan] and to take advantage of south [Kurdistan] for this purpose. If we fail as political forces in south Kurdistan to support PKK struggle, then we should not create obstacles for it. Our party is proud of having PKK and PJAK and I ask PUK and KDP not to hinder their struggle if they cannot support them.

Relation with PJAK

[Hawlati]  To what extent your part has relations with PJAK?

[Diyar Gharib]  As Kurdistani relationship, we have good relations with them. We find it our duty to establish relations with other parties in north and east Kurdistan. We believe in this relationship. We have better relations with PJAK than with KDPI and Komala.

Armed teams

[Hawlati]  You have a base in Qandil and it is known that you have an armed group too? Doesn?t this create a problem for you?

[Diyar Gharib]  We held our first conference in 2002. Then we applied for license to the administrations of PUK and KDP in Sulaymaniyah and Hewler (Arbil) in order to publicly exercise our political activity. They did not grant us permission. Often they were arresting our members in the cities. The weapons they were carrying were for self-defence. From 2003, after the regime fell, we established offices in Kirkuk Mosul, Baghdad, Arbil and Sulaymaniyah. We opened our offices and engaged in public activity. Then we abolished the [armed] partisan groups we had formed. Now we do not have armed teams. We believe that we can carry out our activity through democratic struggle. In Qandil there are large numbers of villages about 60 villages, we have offices and centres there the way we have in Kirkuk and Mosul. Our approach is the same: if a political environment prevails in Iraq where we can achieve our national rights without armed struggle, then we do not need arms. But whenever we realise that we can achieve our rights through force only, then we will find it necessary to pursue armed struggle. 

KRG refusal to license the party

[Hawlati]  What are the reasons behind refusing to license Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party as a political party? You may be aware that an official of Interior Ministry has said that you miss three conditions that must exist in all political parties. Do you think this is the reason or there is an external hand that puts pressure on KDP and PUK to deny you a license?

[Diyar Gharib]  We have offices in Kirkuk, in Mosul and in Baghdad. You should address this question to the Kurdistan Region Government, to PUK and KDP. In our view the reasons they give are not true. The main reason is that in Kurdistan region the space of freedom is very limited. If the space of freedom was not so narrow, then why they have ignored our application which we have submitted since the aftermath of our first conference in 2002? In 2004, after our second conference, we resubmitted our application for license, but still we have received no formal response. Some time ago the judge Tariq from the Interior Ministry said that there were three articles in the Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party that did not correspond to the Political parties Law. But we have not received any formal answer telling us about these three articles. The reason why we are not treated in a legal way is the pressure from Turkey not to give us permission. But we know this is not the main factor. The main reason is lack of political freedom in Kurdistan and the fear of KDP and PUK of the emergence of new political organisations. We wish KDP and PUK know that they do not need to fear us. We have not been established to fight them. We do not have conflict over power with anyone. In a more open space for freedom our achievements will grow. But with the lack of this free space, our achievements will shrink. The refusal of KRG to grant us license will only prepare ground for other forces that do not care about our people to come in.

[Hawlati]  After KDP and PUK have refused to license you, how do you see your relationship with them? 

[Diyar Gharib]  In spite of our criticism of KDP and PUK, we have supported them as a national stand. In the time of the elections for the Kirkuk governorate council in 2005, they did not accept us to be part of Brayati (Fraternity) List. But still we supported them and voted for that list. They should realise they do not lose anything from our support to them. We have supported them in many other issues when they talked in the interests of the people of Kurdistan. Here I take this opportunity to call upon KDP and PUK to behave in a more democratic way with other political parties.

[Hawlati]  If you do not have permission, then how could you participate in Kurdistan elections?

[Diyar Gharib] According to the law of political parties in Iraq we have license. We have permit from the High Commission of Elections in Iraq. Also we are licensed according to the political parties? law of the Kurdistan Parliament which says that an application by an organisation for license must be answered in 90 days and if this did not happen within this tile limit, the applicant organisation would be considered as licensed. Thus if there is law, then we are already legally qualified. If there is no law, this is another matter. We want to advance our struggle in Kurdistan region. It is true that we do have not had offices in Arbil and Sulaymaniyah for six months. But our struggle is ongoing. It has not stopped. We will try to reopen our headquarters and offices in Sulaymaniyah and Arbil in future because we believe in continuous struggle. The more pressure is put on us, the more our struggle advances, we will not go backwards.

Relations with other Kurdish parties

[Hawlati]  How are your relations with other [Kurdistan political] parties? Do they treat you in the same way as KDP and PUK do?

[Diyar Gharib]  We have relations with Kurdistan Islamic Union, Islamic Group, thee Communist Party, Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party and Kurdistan Toilers Party, all those parties that participate in power with KDP and PUK. But to say the truth it is a very routine relationship. It is not a strong one. These parties in power treat us according to the degree of our distance or closeness from KDP and PUK. We hope that they will be able to overcome this attitude. The relations are a bit better now but have not left this spectre. But we have better relations with parties outside power than those inside.

Kurdish parties and opposition 

[Hawlati]  How do you assess the position of the four Kurdistan political parties that have presented a project to government for solving the problem of services? Do you think this step aims solely to broaden their power inside the government?

[Diyar Gharib]  They claim that they do not aim to increase their own power but to provide more services to people. We hope that this is the case and they will continue on their position. We will support them in this. For this purpose we have talked to the Islamic Group and the Islamic Union and expressed to them our support for the demands of the four parties and making them aware that people think they want only to increase their own gains. We hope that these four parts would form the core of a democratic opposition because the ground for democracy would not obtain without the existence of a democratic opposition. 

Now in south Kurdistan there is political power but there is no opposition. If these four parties insist on their demands I believe that we all together be able to form an effective opposition.

[Hawlati]  If there were a law in Kurdistan that would allow the existence of the opposition, will you choose to work as an opposition party or do you want, like other parties, to participate in government?

[Diyar Gharib]  Now we consider ourselves an opposition party. In our third conference we decided to work as an opposition group. In our fourth conference, we reasserted this decision. Even if we participate in the lections tomorrow, we would participate in power and government. We believe that with the more democratic opposition exists, the more transparency increases and the issues become clearer to the citizens. Then power will be obliged to change its ways.

Weak media role

[Hawlati]  Your media activity is very weak. Is it because you have small financial capacity or are there other reasons?

[Diyar Gharib]  It is true our media activity is weak. The reason is that we do not have a budget (funds). Our financial source comes from donations from members, friends and supporters. We have an organisation in Europe. We receive some support from there. We also receive financial aid from Kurdistan cities. But this is not sufficient to our organisation needs let alone media and publicity. Our priority is to advance our organisation this will increase our supporters. We have planned for this. As media activity, we do have a newspaper and a website. Sometimes we also publish booklets. We had a radio but it stopped because the machine became out of order and we did not have money to repair it. Thus it stopped. We are trying to repair it.

[Hawlati]  As Democratic Solution Party, will you participate in the governorates elections as a separate list or will you form an alliance with another list?

Participation in governorates elections

[Diyar Gharib]  We have been informed by the High Commission for Elections in Iraq whether we would wish to participate in the elections or not. Here I would like to correct a news item by the Turkish NTV which claimed that we would not be able to participate in the elections. We have formal document to prove that we have been invited to participate in the elections. But we do not want to participate as an independent list. The areas where the elections would take place are Kirkuk, Diyala, Baghdad, Mosul and Salah-al-din. We cannot fight independently there and claim that we would win a seat, we will not. We speak honestly, we do not want t waste our votes. Therefore we give our voices to a group that will offer more service to the Kurdish question and Kurdish people. We have now formed a committee to study these areas especially the Kurdish political parties in the first place so that we would join our force with a list that owns a programme that provide genuine solution to Kurdish question. For example in Kirkuk the Kurdish lists have still not finalised their position whether they participate as separate lists or as one joint list. Some people want to participate as independent candidates. Whenever they clarify their final position, we will too make our won decision.

Article 140 and UN role

[Hawlati]  What do you think about the role of the UN and the proposals [of UN Special Representative] De Mistura? Don?t you think that it is necessary to stick to the Iraqi constitution and article 140 in relation to Kirkuk?

[Diyar Gharib]  In 2005, when a referendum on the constitution was conducted we did not vote for it. This was not without reason. Then we published a memorandum which identified a number of points which we saw as dangerous for the Kurdish question. Now we see that these points have created problems for the Kurds such as the issue of budget, peshmarga, the economy f the region and oil contracts. These have become a problem now. One of the anticipated problems was article 140. We believed that we should not have allowed the problem of Kirkuk to be mentioned in the constitution. It was vital that this issue was sorted out immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein. This was ignored. Then it should have been determined in the period when the provisional Iraqi Administrative Law was effective. When this was ignored to and the issue reached the constitution we gain demanded that a serious effort is made for this purpose. What is happening now is not only the responsibility of the Iraqi government. Greater responsibility falls on the KRG. They have not worked seriously for this issue. It was clear what article 140 meant: this article states that if within the identified period [until the end of December 2007] the relevant parties did not reach an agreement, and then the issue would be referred to the UN. Then we did not find this a positive thing because the UN still does not have a positive outlook on Kurdish question. Then when the UN presented these proposals we believed it represented their [negative] policy. We published a memorandum and rejected the proposals which we perceived as the extension of Baker/Hamilton plan.

This plan took into consideration the interests of Turkey and other regional interests and did not pay much attention to the interests of the Kurds. It is also contradictory to article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. UN must be a positive co-operator for the implementation of this article; not come forward to create something new and sell it to us. 

Strategy for future of the Kurds

[Hawlati]  How do you see the future of the Kurds? Do you think Kurdish question is making daily progress, or retreating?

[Diyar Gharib]  Kurdish question is one question, interconnected. Toda there is a crisis in the world that involves political, economic and other aspects and the Middle East has a big share of this crisis. We believe that in the same way that the world at the beginning of the 20 century faced a crisis leading to the World War One which recreated the balances, today although no world war has happened, the seriousness and weight of the events in the region is at the level of world war. This gives opportunity to the Kurds to achieve a lot of strategic aims if they are united and own a national strategy. We are optimistic that today there are some achievements for the Kurds in south Kurdistan, there is a good movement in east Kurdistan, in north Kurdistan the citizens are organized and they daily demonstrate in the streets demanding their rights. In the west (Syria) in the same way, there is organisation. These are all good and serious matters. We are optimistic that if these processes continue and are developed we can find a permanent place for ourselves in the political equations. In our fourth conference we made a decision to work for convening a pan-Kurdish national congress and at the same time to produce a pan-Kurdish national pact or programme. If such a pact exists then it will work as an umbrella for the Kurds and they would support each other and the international forces would need the Kurds more. The US is seen as a principal superpower but the US needs the Kurds, Turkey, Iran and Europe need the Kurds. The Kurds have a good strategic position if we know how to make use of it.

KDP/PUK accord

[Hawlati]  How do you read the accord between KDP and PUK?

[Diyar Gharib]  This agreement must be inclusive to everyone. It must have democratic principles. The democratic principle of this accord is very weak. That is why they still treat each other with suspicion. If they were not weak democratically, they would not have made the decision to fight two more elections as one joint list. Let them have some democratic competition and fight the elections separately. This will greatly serve them and the people.

Hawlati,Sulaymaniyah, independent twice weekly newspaper in standard Kurdish, 2 Jul 08, p5

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