Kurdistan is not Tunisia

Regrettably, attempts by civil society organizations to demonstrate and ask for improved services from their government are being hijacked by the opposition block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s parliament Gorran.

No one is doubting the need to improve governance and the delivery of services in Kurdistan. But it is unfortunate, that rather than use the political process, Gorran’s leadership and a few of their supporters from outside of Sulaimani want to take advantage of peoples genuine complaints, and use this opportunity to sow trouble and attempt to destabilize the city of Sulaimani. Gorran have urged their supporters to join the demonstrations and instigate violence. They have also issued a statement calling on the government and parliament (of which they have 25 seats) of Kurdistan to stand down.

I am currently in Sulaimani, and have been speaking to many of Sulaimani’s real residents; people who are non political, and are trying to go about their daily lives. Many do say that they hope Kurdistan improves, democratizes and significantly improves its governance and delivery of services. But they all agree that violence is not the way forward.

People are genuinely concerned that because Gorran has failed to utilize its position in Kurdistan’s politics, and is losing credibility with its supporters, that their only hope now is to try to foment instability and try to benefit from it. It is a shame that they are making a mockery of the many people who voted for them in the elections, and have failed to use their important standing as opposition to bring about change in a lawful way.

I genuinely hope that the demonstrations do go ahead on Monday, I am confident that people who are genuinely frustrated will exercise their given right to express their disappointment. But I am also confident, that these well intentioned people love their city, and their homeland, and will respect the law and demonstrate peacefully.

I am however growing increasingly less confident about Gorran’s intention to be genuine participants in Kurdistan’s political process.

Kurdistan for its faults has a political process that is maturing. It has a growing civil society, and a free and very opinionated press. We have a plural government, and parliament (not like Egypt’s ruling party’s 97% in parliament) with a viable elected opposition. While we are not yet Switzerland, we are certainly not Egypt or Tunisia – and most sensible Kurds understand that.

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