Kurds are afraid of creating a state:
"Kurdistan is not part of Arab geography, An embargo
on the state of Kurdistan wouldn’t succeed," Iraqi
MP Hassan Alawi says
October 22, 2011
Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Hassan Alawi is a veteran
Iraqi politician, writer and a member of Iraq’s
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 Saddam’s
regime on the Kurdish town of Halabja that killed
5,000 people, Hassan’s brother, Hadi Alawai,
denounced his Iraqi citizenship, saying he didn’t
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 Iraq’s 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
Hussein’s footsteps. Do you think there will be
another Saddam in Iraq?
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 shouldn’t 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, it’s very difficult to find a dictator who
is an agent for others because dictators don’t 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. It’s difficult to find these qualities in
Maliki. Maliki is not that kind of person and the
time is different from Saddam’s 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 doesn’t even have full control
over Baghdad, so how can he become a dictator? But
of course centralism doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 Maliki’s forces now? Can he
dispatch troops to Erbil? I think it’s 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 (Iraq’s president before Saddam) did
not become a dictator of the kind that Saddam was?
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
Q: Is there any
possibility that Iraq could return to a strong
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 Iraq’s
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 Iraq’s political map and not its
geographical map. Kurdistan is not part of Arab
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 Kurds’
right to independence. I am even ahead of (my
brother) Hadi Alawi in that regard. It’s 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?
What is the value of land? What can I do with a
scorched piece of land where people get killed every
day? I don’t want this kind of land. Land isn’t
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
you’ll see that people in Kurdistan are in a better
condition. I’m not talking about national identity;
I’m 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 Region… 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
hasn’t 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
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 state… Some Kurds complain that
Arabs don’t 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 don’t you just form
an state outright?
leaders are criticized for not taking over Kirkuk in
2003 and declaring a state. Do you think this
criticism is valid?
Yes, it is. This has happened time and again in
history. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, Turks
formed their own nation. But why didn’t you Kurds do
the same? Kurds are afraid of creating a state.
Q: You mean
afraid of running a country?
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
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 system… Now why don’t
six million Kurds with a 100 years of struggle have
the right to change the constitution as those 11
officers did… 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.
What’s 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.
People set goals and strive toward realizing them.
No people has struggled and sacrificed as much as
the Iraqi Kurds and so they shouldn’t 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 Iran’s
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 wasn’t happy about it? This isn’t the
logic of people with goals and a plan.
Q: Could a
Kurdish state stand on its feet and survive in this
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? That’s 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 wouldn’t happen
today because Turkey has interests in Kurdistan and
those interests wouldn’t allow (the government) to
do stupid things. Besides, other countries wouldn’t
allow that. And there is no military power than can
totally eliminate a people. It isn’t about a group
of rebels being bombed and eliminated. It’s about
the will of a people. Even if Iran was very stupid,
it couldn’t send troops to occupy Kurdistan. The age
of aggression and occupation is over.
The only thing that remains is shutting down
borders. Let’s 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
wouldn’t 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
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