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 Kurds are afraid of creating a state: Iraqi MP

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Kurds are afraid of creating a state: Iraqi MP  22.10.2011  


































"Kurdistan is not part of Arab geography, An embargo on the state of Kurdistan wouldnít succeed," Iraqi MP Hassan Alawi says

October 22, 2011


ERBIL-HewlÍr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', ó Hassan Alawi is a veteran Iraqi politician, writer and a member of Iraqís Parliament. He was one of the founders of the Baath Party and knew Saddam Hussein personally. Alawi and his family are known for their passionate support of the Kurds and their rights.

Following the 1988 chemical attack by Saddamís regime on the Kurdish town of Halabja that killed 5,000 people, Hassanís brother, Hadi Alawai, denounced his Iraqi citizenship, saying he didnít want to belong to a country ruled by people who carried out the attack on Halabja.                 

Hassan Alawi is a veteran Iraqi politician, writer and a member of Iraqís Parliament.
Alawi, who recently visited Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan told Rudaw in a wide-ranging interview that Kurds need to take advantage of the current conditions and declare independence.

Q: You once interviewed Saddam Hussein and published it as 100 Hours With Saddam Hussein. Some people now argue that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is following the Husseinís footsteps. Do you think there will be another Saddam in Iraq?

Hassan Alawi: Saddam was the product of a particular historical era that is gone. In terms of personality, dictatorship is not a dress that anybody can wear. Dictatorship needs charisma and strength. The dictator should not have holes in his personality and shouldnít be hesitant. He is someone isolated from his surroundings. Dictators do not have sects. They have their own ideology and proceed based on that. So, itís very difficult to find a dictator who is an agent for others because dictators donít work for others. They might have to enter into alliances with big powers but they never become agents because at the end of the day they work for their own interests. Itís difficult to find these qualities in Maliki. Maliki is not that kind of person and the time is different from Saddamís time. We oversimplify politics by stating that a new dictatorship will emerge in Iraq. Dictators emerge in centralized states.

Q: But is centralism finished in Iraq?

Hassan Alawi: In Iraq, centralism is no more. Dictatorship mainly relies on the power of the capital city, i.e. the central power. Maliki doesnít even have full control over Baghdad, so how can he become a dictator? But of course centralism doesnít necessarily mean dictatorship. Is there any president with more centralized power than the US? Is there any voice in the country that can compete with his? Can Congress even stand up to him? The US is a country where the president can even veto Congressional decisions and yet it is a federal state. When we say a centralized state it doesnít mean the status of the regions needs to be revoked. This is a constitutional matter and the constitution asserts that Iraq is a federal state. Where are Malikiís forces now? Can he dispatch troops to Erbil? I think itís too much to depict Maliki as a new Saddam.

Q: As a writer you were close to Saddam. Did you ever predict that he could become a dictator?

Hassan Alawi: I used to be a decision-maker in those days. I was one of the founders of the Baath Party and am I three years older than Saddam. He was from the second generation of Baathists. They were an anti-revolution and anti-communist generation. But I belonged to the first generation. It was the system in Iraq that created the dictatorship; even without Saddam someone else would have become the dictator. The reason why I used to say the leaders of the Baath Party were all ready to become dictators was because the regime and the system allowed for it. It was a regime of a single party and single ideology.

Q: But Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr (Iraqís president before Saddam) did not become a dictator of the kind that Saddam was?

Hassan Alawi: Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr came from the military establishment that has its own laws and rules of behavior. It teaches you how to lead... Saddam was not trained anywhere. His only niche was the party and he was a product of the party. And the party was calling itself the vanguard party. In my book, The State of Secret Organization I have shown that the military establishment has been less violent than the regime of the secret organization. That is why when the Baath Party was in power in 1963 when Abdul-Salam Aref was in charge; all the leftist forces supported him because they believed a regime from a military coup was better than a regime from a secret organization.

Q: Is there any possibility that Iraq could return to a strong centralized system?

Hassan Alawi: The only way for Iraq to become a centralized state is for Kurdistan to declare independence. I am an Arab nationalist and I am quite fervent about it and I call for an independent Kurdistan while wanting a centralized Arab state. What has hampered Iraqís return to a strong centralized state is the Kurdistan Region. Kurdistan needs to go before Iraq can become a centralized state. Kurdistan has no connection whatsoever -- whether as a people or land -- to Iraq and has never been part of Iraq. It has been only part of Iraqís political map and not its geographical map. Kurdistan is not part of Arab geography.

Q: Where does this geography begin?

Hassan Alawi: If Kurds want to exercise self-determination, they will gain a lot of votes among Arabs as well. What hampers the creation of a Kurdish state is not the neighboring states but the geographical area Kurds want for their state and that does assist the cause of independence. The Kurdish map that extends well into Mandali and Kut does not help independence.

Q: Kirkuk has been at the core of the Kurdish struggle and demands in Iraq since the 1960s. How can Kurds declare independence if they do not take back those areas?

Hassan Alawi: I am a friend of the Kurds and their cause. I published an article 50 years ago about the Kurdsí right to independence. I am even ahead of (my brother) Hadi Alawi in that regard. Itís true that he is my older brother but I have been supportive of the Kurdish cause before him.

Q: As an MP what do you think about the Kirkuk issue?

Hassan Alawi: What is the value of land? What can I do with a scorched piece of land where people get killed every day? I donít want this kind of land. Land isnít sacred. There is an old Arabic saying that says the best place is where you are respected. Why should people be killed generation after generation because of a few kilometers of land? Comparatively speaking,www.ekurd.net youíll see that people in Kurdistan are in a better condition. Iím not talking about national identity; Iím talking about human dignity. Human blood has become cheap in Kirkuk under the current conditions. The blood of professors and scholars is cheap; children are abducted; women are raped; and churches are burned. How long is this going to continue? I want it to stop. So a Kurdish administration needs to be created in Kirkuk as soon as possible and it needs to be annexed to the Kurdistan RegionÖ I believe one needs to think above and beyond administrative divisions and accept Kirkuk becoming part of Kurdistan so that the residents of Kirkuk can live like the people in Erbil and Sulaimani and not on scorched land.

Q: The political leaders here are criticized for not implementing Article 140 which was created to resolve the Kirkuk issue after the fall of Baath regime. In your opinion, what is the reason why the Kirkuk issue hasnít been resolved?

Hassan Alawi: I can only talk about this as an observer and a researcher on Kurds. What happened with Article 140 is the same thing that happened with Treaty of Sevres (1920) which the Kurds could not use to their advantage. Adding to that are the 14 points by former US President Woodrow Wilson. The reason for all this is missed opportunities, which has been part and parcel of Kurdish politics for almost a century.

To Kurds, revolution is more important than its results. Kurds are like Shias. They launch the revolution but then give the power to someone else. Kurds lack awareness about power and governance and are afraid of the stateÖ Some Kurds complain that Arabs donít help them create a state. Since when has a nation created a state for someone else? What can Arabs, Turks and Persians do for you? You must rely on your own struggle. Now you have a nation without making much noise about it. Why donít you just form an state outright?

Q: Kurdish leaders are criticized for not taking over Kirkuk in 2003 and declaring a state. Do you think this criticism is valid?

Hassan Alawi: Yes, it is. This has happened time and again in history. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, Turks formed their own nation. But why didnít you Kurds do the same? Kurds are afraid of creating a state.

Q: You mean afraid of running a country?

Hassan Alawi: No, Kurds have a phobia of statehood. Now if I talk about a Kurdish state, many Kurds will say I am lying. But they have to support me. Whom are you afraid of as Kurds? Whom do you have an agreement with that makes you so afraid?

Q: Well, Kurds say we have a social and political pact called the Iraqi constitution which has guaranteed the rights of Kurds.

Hassan Alawi: Let me tell you something. In Iraq, 11 military officers who did not represent the people launched a coup and overthrew the 38-year old monarchy (in 1958) and set up a republican systemÖ Now why donít six million Kurds with a 100 years of struggle have the right to change the constitution as those 11 officers didÖ That happened in Iraq several other times and every time a few officers changed the constitution. Jamal Abdul-Nasser of Egypt was an army colonel and removed King Faruq and turned Egypt into a republic with a single unilateral decision. Whatís so scary about a constitution?

Q: Kurds always view Turkey as the main impediment in the way of their state. But some believe that after the discovery of oil in Kurdistan, the ground is being prepared for establishing a state.

Hassan Alawi: People set goals and strive toward realizing them. No people has struggled and sacrificed as much as the Iraqi Kurds and so they shouldnít look to someone else for help. Did Iran, for instance, approve the creation of Iraq? With the crowning of King Faisal in 1923 Iraq became a state, but Iranís Shah recognized Iraq in 1928. The reason was because Iran wanted Basra province to be part of its territory. So, should there have been no Iraq, because Iran wasnít happy about it? This isnít the logic of people with goals and a plan.

Q: Could a Kurdish state stand on its feet and survive in this region?

Hassan Alawi: Think about it in a different way: Is there any power in the region that can completely exterminate a people? This is something that has to do with the will of a people. If the people decide to become independent, how could Turkey dispatch troops to Erbil? This would never happen. Or how could Iran send troops to Sulaimaniyah? Thatís impossible. The age of occupation is over. This fear of Iran and Turkey is an extension of the fear of empires, the Ottomans and the Safavids, because they divided the region between themselves. At that time, there was no Europe or (United Nations) Security Council or nuclear power that would rule the world.

Back then, those empires could shut down the borders and impose embargos on people. That wouldnít happen today because Turkey has interests in Kurdistan and those interests wouldnít allow (the government) to do stupid things. Besides, other countries wouldnít allow that. And there is no military power than can totally eliminate a people. It isnít about a group of rebels being bombed and eliminated. Itís about the will of a people. Even if Iran was very stupid, it couldnít send troops to occupy Kurdistan. The age of aggression and occupation is over.

The only thing that remains is shutting down borders. Letís imagine the borders were closed down. This has been tried before in international politics, like the embargo on Iraq. But imposing an embargo is a very difficult thing, especially if the population on the other side of the border in Iran, Turkey and Syria are Kurdish. All those Kurds wouldnít turn into a police force for Turkish or Iranian states and help prevent the flow of goods and aid to Iraqi Kurds. On the contrary, they would challenge it. An embargo on the state of Kurdistan wouldnít succeed.
 

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, rudaw.net  

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