Kurdistan Bloggers Union Kurdistan Bloggers Union: September 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005 

The statute of Kurds in the new Iraqi Constitution

On september 10th, good conference of Saywan Barzani, the KRG represenative in France. Clear and synthetic, and giving all elements to decide if Kurds could be satisfied or not of the Constitution. I transcript a survey.

Having recalled the different dispositions and provisionnal laws in Iraq since the liberation, Saywan presented the play of the 3 mains groups which have debated on the Constitution : Kurds, Sunnites and Shiites and the impossibility to make an agreement before August 15th.

Sunnites would have like a dossilution of the Assembly and the organisation of new elections. Kurds were not against it, for it would have not changed their own score but Shiites refused, fearing that their majority would be less important if Sunnites vote (they have boycotted the last elections). So the Committes had asked a delay of 3 days and at the end on August 28th, a provisionnal text had been presented (40 points shoud be decided later).

In majority, Sunnites are against this Constitution. But as they have not been elected, only "designed" as representative of their group, they are not in a strong position. Some of them are Baasists, some other moderate.

The current project had not been modified, except for changing the competences of central government concerning the issue of Tigris and Euphrat waters, for it is an international question between iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The main discussed points :

The identity of Iraq :

- I, 3 : Kurds' proposal was to mention a multiethnical Iraq. There was a debate on the former sentence "Iraq is a part of the Arab nation." Of course Kurds wanted to suppress it. Arabs proposed to write "the Iraqi territory is a part of the Arab nation", but as Saywan said, a territory could not be a part of a human group, so it has non sense. So an else formula has been adopted : "the Iraqi Arabs are a part of the Arab nation and Iraq is a founder member of the Arab League of which it respects the agreements, and formed a part of the Moslem world" (this to satisfy the Shiites).

The Constitution :

It is the result of a compromis between the 3 groups. We should analyse it in 2 sections, one concerning Iraq in general and the secund for the Kurdish Region.

We have to notice that it is the first permanent Constitution in Iraq since 1958, all the former were provisionnal because of internal and international conflicts.

After a very poetic preamble, recalling that the Iraqis are the children of Mesopotamia, that Iraq saw on its ground appearing the first law, the first writing, etc, the important points of the Constitution relate to: :

- The name of this state ? Kurds wished to call it "Federal republic of Iraq", and Shiites : "Islamic Republic of Iraq". Sunnites supported Shiites's choice because they were absolutely opposed to a "Federal republic." So it stays "Republic of Iraq", and in the text, it is mentionned as a "democratic, federal, representative (parlementary) repubublic. "

- State and Islam : As we have said, Shiites and Sunnites wished (or were not against) an Islamic Republic and islam as the unique source of Law. Kurds could not accept it , because they refuse all kind of dependance to a religious hierarchy (Shiite clerks are very influent). Then Kurds objected the numerous religious minorities in Iraq : Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, Sabeans, etc. And islamic law could have differences between Shiite and Sunnit laws : For example "temporary marriage" does not exist for Sunna but is a Shiite institution. So Kurds obtained that islam is only quoted as "one of the sources" of Law, but not the unique.

Kurds have succeed to impose that other minorities'religious rights were stated in the Constitution (article 2) : "This constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and the full religious rights for all individuals and the freedom of creed and religious practices like (Christians, Yazidis, Sabaean Mandeans.)".

If we compare this constituion with most of those which rule the Arab world, it is very modern and advanced. It guarantees freedom for trade-union, political, for press, circulation of people, it condemns torture, degrading punishments. It allows the right to have a double nationality except for high representative of government, the right to education, health, the private property and market economy.

- On woman's statute : Kurds wanted a quota of 40% of women in National Assembly. At the end, only 25% had been accepted. Women have all rights to have a political and offcial activity.

Political institutions of federal Iraq:

At the head of the State, there are a president, a Prime Minister and two assemblies. It is a parliamentary system. President's power is quite honorary in spite of prerogatives. The exercise of the government belongs to the Prime Minister, but is controlled by the National Assembly.

The Regional Assembly :

We have few information on this institution, because it should be defined in a later law. Though this assembly which will guarantee the rights of regions, and thus the rights of Kurdistan.

Kurdistan (or Federal Region of Kurdistan) :

The Shiites wanted to also create their own area, but the sunnites are opposite there, because of the question of the natural resources (the oil of al Basra). Sunnites accept Kurdistan for they can not prevent it, but But they are opposed so that the Shiites follow the movement. However best would be to divide Iraq as follows: the area of the Holy Cities (Kerbelah, Najaf), that of al Basra, the area sunnite, Kurdistan.

About the Region, all the Kurdish claims have been accepted, except two: the name of "federal republic" as we saw, and the right in 6 or 8 years, to make a Kurdish referendum on selfdetermination. But the Arabs refused it. So the components of the Iraqi people are presented as forming a "free union" as long as the Constitution will not be modified. This "Iraqi union" can thus be broken at each constitutional change. T

Language :

In article 4 it is stipulated that Kurdish and Arabic are the two official languages of Iraq. Firstly the sunnites had required that Arabic be the language of Iraq and Kurdish the official language of the Kurdish area only, but one could then wonder in which language the two entities were going to be able to communicate. It should be remembered that 60% of the Kurds of Iraq do not speak Arabic. In addition, the Kurds asked and obtained that the other languages be mentioned, as Turkmen or Syriac, and the right of these minorities to educate their children in their mother tongues.

Respective competences of the central government and the Regions :

The government has only 9 exclusive competences ( all others belong to regions) : Foreign policy, diplomacy, economical policy, monetary, national defense, customs, telecommunications, hydraulic resources , census of the population, etc.

In reality however, much of these "exclusive" competences are assumed by regions because of the weakness of the central State. There are also "shared" competences which encroach even on the field of exclusive competences, thus for customs, distribution in water/electricity, environment, health, education etc, which is also support by regions.

Competences of regions :

Regions can change the laws which are not included in the exclusive competences of the central government. they can have their own representation in foreign countries (as Québec) and can rule economical, social and juridic questions. Region rule themselves and organize their own safety (police, army, militia).

Kurds have especially three aims for the future :

The question of Kirkuk, Xaneqîn, etc. :

The article 58 of the former provisionnal law about the return of expelled people in their homeland and the restitution of their good and properties has not been applied in reality since 14 months. Arabs accepted this article in the new Constitution but they did not want a deadline in the agenda. Kurds refused, because they were afraid to wait for one century ! Then Arabs proposed a delay of 10 oo 20 years. Kurds refused again. Finally, Kurds should come back in their homes before December 31 2007, and Arab colonists should leave. By a referendum, inhabitants will choice if they will be integrated or not in the Kurdish Region. But the governorate of Kirkuk had been shared between several districts by Saddam. It is necessary to restaure it before. Arabs object so that ALL the governorates were changed by Saddam and then, logically, they ought to rebuilt all the system of districts, and not only the Kirkuki one.

Another Kurdish claim is oil income. Kurds asked firstly that 60% profit to Kurdistan and 35% to the Central Government. But it has not been accepted. Then they conclude an alse agreement : current oil resources are for Bagdad, but any new oilfield discovered in Kurdistan would be the property of the Region.

Peshmergas :

Kurds wanted to keep their defence, even if Shiites threatened to keep then some militias as Sadr's. Now each region has its own "guards", and calls them as it likes. Kurdistan calls its guards "Peshmergas of Kurdistan".

Other problems :

- Iraqi flag and hymns :

Both are explicit references to Arab nationalism and are categorically refused by the Kurds because it is under these colors that they have been genocized. This flag coulds be seen in Silêmanî but is absolutely forbiden in Hewlêr/Erbil. Last July, the Consul of the USA refused to go to the reception organized by the Kurds for celebrating the American Day, pretexting that in the building (and all the city) did not float the Iraqi flag (the same one as under Saddam but without the pious formula writes with the hand and the blood of the deposed raïs) but only Kurdish colours. Some Kurds reacted by asking if after the fall of Reich in 1945, they would have required that the Nazi flag continue to float on the concentration camps...

A new Iraqi flag should be voted and decided later.

How could we be sure that this Constitution will be respected and applied to the ground?

This Constitution is very rigid and let a few power to the central government. It is based entirely on a concept "of voluntary union" between the two major people of Iraq, the Arabs and the Kurds. Many of these provisions require the 2/3 of the Parliament to be changed and the Parliaments of the areas can decide to accept them or reject by referendum.

On the ground, of course, all depends on the way in which the American occupation will continue, or if the troops will be withdrawn and when. But in reality, we can say that Kurdistan is finally made up and has a political legitimacy which Iraq cannot reconsider. On October 15 the text of the Constitution will be the subject of a referendum. It will be probably approved, for the main Kurdish parties and Shiites do not contest it and will invite their sympathizers to vote for it.


Q. : How about the situation of Mosul ?

A. : Mosul is ethynically very mixed and is a complex ground. The city can approximately be divided in two banks, the right-hand side and the left (of the Tiger). The left bank is populated Kurds, Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, etc, and is controlled by the Kurdish forces. The right bank has an Arab population, sunnite in majority, with much former and current Baasist (among the old republican Guard of Saddam, 20,000 of them came from Mosul). Because of the insecurity and the presence of terrorist groups, *areas of the north of Mosul wish more and more to be attached to Kurdistan, which one can plan to make by making them pass in the districts of Kirkuk or Dohouk. The right bank it, is controlled by the Americans in the daytime, by the terrorists in the night.

Q. : How Sunnites and Shiites Kurds manage their religious difference ?

R. : Religious identity is not the most important in Kurdicity, opposing to Iraqi Arabs. Thus, Kurdistan is currently ruled by an Assyrian (Christian), the Vice-Prime Minister when the PM is out of the country. The most important is to be "Kurdistani".

Q. : How much peshmergas are there in Kurdistan ?

R. : Officially today, we count 37,000 peshmergas from PUK and between 50 and 60 000 peshmergas from the DPK. But in truth, only 15,000 men were correctly involved and are operational. It is not desirable to employ some more, because Kurdistan suffers from a lack of workers (because of the war, exiles, the genocide) at such point that it plans to call upon immigrants.

Q. How could we be sure that the article 58 on the return of the deportees of Kirkuk and the departure of the Arab colonists will be really applied?

R. : it is stipulated that this article will have to be applied before 30/12/2007. If not, as for all the articles of the Constitution, its non-observance will break "the free union of Iraqi" on which this Constitution is based. The Americans oppose sometimes to the return of the refugees. Some Christians, who had reinvested a village, were dislodged by US soldiers, who brought back the colonists! But the Kurds and the others return all the same, and recover their goods. Around Kirkuk, 55% of the Kurdish fields were taken again by their owners. It is estimated that between 170 and 200,000 Kurds returned to Kirkuk.

But there are no only colonists: Civils servant, too. The Arab employees of the Oil Northern Company had been transferred to Kirkuk, according to the Baasist policy to employ Arabs in Kurdish country. Among 178,000 employees of the Oil Northern Company only 180 employees are Kurds, in subordinate positions. But it is delicate to claim a "purification" of all the foreign civil servants in Kurdistan. In the field of health, of education, for example, these people are in Kirkuk because they were transferred there, and not by choice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

Further Coverage of Kurdish Blogs

Readers, Writers, and Responders of KBU will be pleased to note that our efforts of blogging for the Kurdish cause have not gone unnoticed. Recently I was asked to join a group called Global Voices Online, which covers the activities of bloggers in different parts of the world so that their voices can be heard by a wider audience. The first enstallment of what will be a weekly posting covering the Kurdish Blogs was posted today. This is an excellent oppurtunity for us all, and I will try to do my best in protraying the best that we have to offer.

Friday, September 09, 2005 

Beji Vladimir !

the first day that I talked to Vladimir, I couldnt belive that I am not dreaming.

A dutch boy who knows much about Kurdistan [probably more than many kurds] , a Non Kurd Dutch boy who prefers to work for kurdistan in his News Sites (Azady in Dutch and KBU news in English) than going out and have fun with Babes like other boys in his age in his country.
This Ducth boy who Kurdistan's liberation is his ambition , The boy that has talked to Dutch officials about Kurds , the boy that has done several articles for Dutch institutes .
it would take 2-3 pages if Iwant to just mention what Vladimir has done for Kurdistan .

If you remember I had done an interview with him 5 months ago ...
the last question that I had asked from him was :
Do you have any plan to start a blog in English ?
I don't know if I have time for that, but I don't think it would take a lot of time. Maybe I start one in my vacations if I have some time left. When I start a blog I rather want to do it about the older history of the Kurds then the news of today, because everybody got blogs about that and you can read columns at a lot of Kurdish websites.

now vladimir has started a blog and he is doing very well , when you read his posts you tell yourself "a great Journalist is borning!" [sorry for english mistakes (Wink)]

here I want to thank vladimir for all of his efforts for Kurdistan . and I ask you loyal readers of KBU to visit Vladimir and link to him , because his blog really worth reading .

Actualy Vladimir's blog doenst need advertising , once you read it , you will find out it is a good source for information and analyze about middle east by a Fair Judge . so don't forget ot read "From Holland to Kurdistan"

and also I want to thank Pamela the writer of Atlas Shrugs Blog who has dedicated several posts to Kurds here are some of her posts :

let say Beji Vladimir and Beji Pamela and Beji all freedom lovers everywhere. [Beji means Long Life in Kurdish]

Thursday, September 08, 2005 

Kurdish Library

As Medya asked it, here are some pictures of the Library in the Kurdish Institute of Paris :

Some 7.000 books on Kurds and Kurdistan, in all languages and alphabets.

One of the oldest Kurdish Grammar (1787), in Italian, made by a Dominican father who stayed many years in Kurdistan, in the 18th century.

The Sherefnameh, or History of Kurdish princes, had been written by Sheref Khan of Bitlis in the 16th century. In 1873-1875, François Charmoy, a French scholar, translated it from Persian. It has been published in Saint Petersburg. At the right, it is a Kurdishh-French dictionnary, made by Alexandre Jaba, and published in 1879 in Saint Pertersburg too.

Of course, each new publication enters here, but I am very fond of these old books...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 

Rews,a malbatê

Among the funny answers that I met in the applications of grants, the best off is the answers to the question : "rews,a malbatê (aîlewî)" , translated from the French "famililal situation".

Just for knowing if the cadidate is bachelor of married.

Well, it does not seem very clear for much students, for with the usual "nezewicî, bekar, zigortî, ezeb" all synonyms to indicate that they are single, I could read enigmatic answers :

Pak = clean. Either marriage is considered as a shady activity, and in that case "pak" means "unternished" like their reputation, or malbat being is literally "house", I imagine the candidate looking around him and chekcking if the housekeeping is OK, at the contray he would have asked his mum to do it before writing his application...

Cotker, karker : two variations of bekar ? nope ! Cotkar means "peasants, farmer" and "karker" worker. Some seem to have understood that we would like to know their social status and their relatives' job.

Qels = weak. Probably an information about the economical situation of the family or a man that his wife has tired a lot.

Navcîn : Did want he write navçîn ? at the middle ? perhaps a son between an elder and a younger, or a "moderate" opinion pro or anti-marriage.

And last but not least :

"Rews,a malbatê = "Alevi Kurd".

Monday, September 05, 2005 

Another pictures

Children of Hewlêr.

Warning : Don't steal the pictures. Their rights are reserved, it is just for the pleasure of eyes !

Friday, September 02, 2005 

Grants for Kurds

For the second time, I am plunged in all the asking of grants. As usually, many aspects characterized the origin of students, showing the influence of national education on Kurdish minds :

- The files of Kurds from Turkey are often marvellous to read and treat. They are often sent in portfolios, with a very nice and clear presentation, each document classified : file, civilities, diploma, notation, etc. With often a list of all the papers that we could find inside... A pure delight to have everything in a logical order, with no need to make a desperate research for getting the simple and few informations that are absolutely necessary for preparing the case... We could see in that rigorous organisation the mark of the Turkish educationnal system, very disciplined, almost Prussian, in its strict logic...

- Iranian Kurds' files are full of various documents, certificates, notations, diploma, letters, etc.... Very beautiful writings but how Persian is difficult to read ! Moreover, Iranian stamps are very nice. Last year, there were a lot of partridges. This years, butterflies win. The sending is often hidden in various packets, or newspaper, or even box of posters, or the wrapping is quite impossible to open without a big knife, because it is strenghened with several layers of scotchtape... We can constate the great trust that Kurds feel toward Iranian mail office...

- Iraqi Kurds are a big big big problem. Since the liberation, the files of students should be directly sent to the French Consulate in Bagdad. Near than 150 grants are so given to Iraqi students and among them 35 are reserved for Kurds. But but but.... When it has learnt it, the Kurdish commission of universities presented a list of high ranked teachers, quite mature in years... Some of their friends I guess, hopeful to spend 4 years in Paris, with the financial support of France. "Gasp, answered the French responsible, We want YOUNG STUDENTS only !" So another turn, a new meeting, and a list of young students had been presented. BUT instead of giving it directly to the Consulate, they have to send it to the Iraqi government firstly, which will give the 150 files together. In a proud nationalist reaction, the commission refused and wished to send its own list directly to the Consulate, without Iraqi medium... So another missed opportunity for students. I wonder when the problem will be resolved, and it is very difficult to explain by phone, to students from Hewlêr, Silêmanî, Duhok, etc, that normally, we are not allowed to receive their asking. At student's place, I would ask to all the head of Kurdish universities to explain themselves...

- In Syrian Kurdistan, there are strange rumours... As the Kurdish region is small, I suppose that when a tale is forged, it spreads quickly in all the community.... This year, Syrian then are persuaded of a quota by region : that only one Kurd from Syria could be accepted, for example. I wonder WHO has had that brilliant idea, but I had to deny it all that spring and summer... Moreover, we have received some problematic faxes, with unreadable documents or incomplete, and without any number phone to warn people, of course... Fortunately email have a greater success.

- As usually many files are eliminated because not complete : file witghut diplomas, diplomas without files, or missing notations .. Some Kurds from Iran were in conflict too with their universities that refused to give them their diplomas (because they estimate that the offered "bakshish" was not so important). I received too a disguised asking of immigration : a married man (though only bachelors are allowed to ask a grant) with his wife (who has just a high school certificate) and another young man, probably his brother. Just missed their granny's file, in fact.

As usually, no sending should be accepted after July 31th, but I still receive files... At least Iranian Kurds have good reasons for being in late, for in July, communications were forbiden in mahabad, and elsewhere... So I am indulgent with them :)

At the end, near to hundred of askings have been sent, for a very few number of grants... The last year, only five students could have been financially supported. In that case, only "genius" should be accepted !

Powered by Blogger