Following the uprisings of angry Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and other Middle Eastern people, Iraqi Kurds have recently filled Sulaimania’s streets and main squares to protests against the country’s widespread corruption, nepotism and dozens of the now-forgotten reform promises by the government. The first protests of Sulaimania were driven into violence and fatalities were recorded.
The sustainability of peace and stability is crucial to KRG’s survival, but demonstrations and daily violence amid protesters and police and security forces largely threatens the region’s reputation of security and safety. At this juncture of Kurdish history, where Iraqi Kurds are in their initial steps of nation-building, the west and its huge oil and investing companies are a good friend to attract – to facilitate the nation-building process in Iraqi Kurdistan. The KRG have been successful in this aspect so far. But the Question is: will the KRG remain on this track?
Ten days of local unrest have largely affected KRG’s stability – while the region has survived years of neighboring tensions and bombardments by Turkish and Iranian artilleries. This indicates that local dissent is of great importance to Kurdistan’s future, and the KRG must find a way breaking the current deadlock, which is impossible without directly negotiating with the protesters who took the streets and are unlikely to go home soon.
The people are not demonstrating for no reason. Their major demand is putting an end to corruption and injustice in the society. For more than two decades of KDP-PUK dominance over Kurdistan, social justice is absolutely missing; money, power and markets are overwhelmingly monopolized by ruling elites and their relatives. A tiny minority of the society (ruling class and their relatives) are controlling a vast amount of the region’s revenues and using it for their luxury.
Protesters are getting more insistent on their demands as more public figures, university students, artists and different parts of the society join them every day.
On the other hand, the KRG (and its two dominant parties) are having tougher and stricter response to protesters, ignoring their demands and even insulting them through their media outlets. None of KRG’s officials have met the protesters, just like no protests have even happened in Iraqi Kurdistan.
For each bullet shot by the security forces, KDP/PUK special guards on protesters, more people turn their back on the KRG and seize loyalty to the well-known leaders and officials. Consequently, the opposition front will keep growing, leading to the collapse of the government, as the main aim of Kurdistan’s new-born opposition is the collapse of the government and taking over power by any means. In other words, the opposition groups in Iraqi Kurdistan are only seeking power. For those groups, the ends justify the means – they would mislead the people in any direction to achieve their own goals.
To handle the turmoil, KRG’s officials need to get rid of their arrogance and show humble impressions to the people. Short term and long term reforming plans should get implemented, motivated by honest and real wills for reform. For immediate cure, Prime Minister Barham Salih and Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani should visit the protesters and discuss their demands – at least to prevent any exploitation of the masses, and before the masses being misled by irresponsible groups and parties.