Democracy Thrives in Kurdistan

The Letter to the Editor below appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post. Written by Qubad Talabani, KRG representative in Washington DC, it is in response to an Op-Ed piece (Kurdistan’s Troubled Democracy) that was published on 18 April 2009 and written by Scott Carpenter and Michael Rubin. Carpenter is the Keston Family Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Democracy Thrives in Kurdistan
Monday, April 27, 2009

Scott Carpenter and Michael Rubin combined untruths, half-truths and faulty analysis in support of their conclusion that there is a democracy deficit in the Kurdistan region of Iraq [‘Kurdistan’s Troubled Democracy,’ April 18].

Qubad Talabani

Qubad Talabani

Contrary to the column’s assertions, Kurdistan’s elections will be administered by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq and not by the government. That commission has already certified five parties, along with another likely 25 entities to run candidates in the elections, so this will hardly be the sham exercise the authors suggested. Furthermore, international election observers have been invited and will be present.

Iraqi Kurdistan achieved stability and democracy long before the rest of Iraq. Not one U.S. citizen, soldier or contractor has been kidnapped, wounded or killed in Kurdistan. While no democracy is perfect and we know there remains much to do, we have a democratically elected parliament, the best record on religious tolerance in Iraq, the most liberal press law in the country and a thriving civil society demonstrated by abundant and unrestricted activity by nongovernmental organizations.

These achievements warrant the respect of scholars such as your authors, not undeserved criticism.

Qubad Talabani

The writer is the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the United States.


7 thoughts on “Democracy Thrives in Kurdistan

  1. And what warrants your position as KRG representative then Mr Talabani? Perhaps it’s merely your last name given that you came into this role with no adequate qualifications and experience.

    What a joke. The sooner the KRG remedies this clan based “godfather” style system of governance the quicker it will get the respect it wants.

  2. Qubad you are a joke , go home no wait where is home to you, you can not even speak Kurdish.

  3. Hero Talabani (wife of Jalal Talabani): Owner of KurdSat Television, Khak Publishing group, Chairwomen of “Kurdistan Save the children”. Qubad Talabani (son of Jalal Talabani): Kurdistan Regional government representative in the United States of America. Bavel Talabani (Son of Jalal Talabani): Chief of PUK Special Forces, Leadership candidate at Plenum. Mullah Baxtiar (father to Bavel Talabani’s wife): PUK politburo, Administrator of the “democratic organisations” (i.e. all union’s in PUK areas, e.g. Women’s association, medical association, legal association, Kurdish engineers union etc). Also controls “Chawder” newspaper/publishing group. Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed (sister of Hero Talabani): PUK Representative to United Kingdom, Plenum Leadership candidate. Latif Rashid (Husband of Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed): Minister for water and Irrigation, Iraqi federal government.

    Hama Sabir (Husband of Hero Talabanis sister): Iraqi Ambassador to China.

    Leloz Ibrahim Ahmed (Sister of Hero Talabani): Iraqi Embassy first secretary to European Union. Asos Rashid (son of Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed): Iraqi embassy first secretary in Geneva.

    Bayaz Talabani (cousin of Jalal Talabani): KRG minister of finance.

    Ali Hama Salih Talabani (Jalal Talabani’s nephew): Member of PUK leadership council. This is the leadership of the “new” PUK, an organisation in which the only way to progress is to be either a blood relative of Jalal Talabani, to marry into Jalal Talabani’s family or to work for their interests. Please note that this list is not in any way exhaustive and is based on the authors own knowledge. There maybe many more family members in the PUK leadership of which I have no knowledge. Also please note that this is list is limited in scope to those holding governmental/party political positions and there are many more family members in other sensitive positions which are claimed to be independent of PUK-Talabani control, for example Halo Ibrahim Ahmed (Brother of Hero Talabani) owns numerous businesses in Kurdistan including the “independent” weekly newspaper “Hewal”.

  4. All the close family members in positions of power is pretty breath taking, but on the other hand it’s natural to initially appoint people you know and trust to such positions. This family was in opposition to pretty ruthless regimes for many decades. Hopefully with time the appointment system will become a bit more open.

    But to those of you who snipped that Qubad is unqualified or “a joke” — you haven’t the slightest clue. He’s doing an outstanding diplomatic job — just listen to any single one of his televised interviews, read his op-eds, or talk to any diplomat who is familiar with him (and then shut up with the pathetic over the top accusations about lack of qualifications — judge him by his performance).

  5. This family held elections throughout the 1990s where you could only vote for the party name, then the PUK leadership chose the politicians and the cabinets and filled up the positions with bootlickers to hand over the country to new millionaires

  6. Mr Qubad Talabani could not have survived the position he is currently holding if it were not for his expertise and skills in the profession. Agreed, he should be judged on his performance which is evidently promising. As for the list of Talabani family members, many positions have been revised since the last posts and that list is now very outdated. Plus I’m pretty sure everyone in Kurdistan is related to President Talabani one way or another!! Just turn up at any Kurdish event and anyone will inevitably meet 10 new cousins! Its the society.
    And amongst the plentiful KRG offices and political positions available, I honestly don’t think 5 Talabani associates makes it viable to cry nepotism or a ‘godfather clan’. Again these professionals should only be judged on their expertise and accomplishments, which they seem to thrive in. With whatever businesses, media or political positions they may hold, they have the interests of their people at heart. Dr Rashid reflooded and repopulated the dried out Marshlands during the most dangerous time in Baghdad, Kak Bafel Talabani’s unit has helped capture suicide bombers that were ready to blow up Kurdistan on multiple occasions, Ms Hero Talabani’s charity has supported thousands of Kurdish children with medical care, education and aid at a time where the rest of the world did not even know who Kurdish Children were! They are all focused on the rebuilding and prosper of their country so i do not see what more people want. I could give more examples but i don’t want to come across bias so I suggest you look at their CVs or project successes.
    it is very easy for the international community to assume they know best for a culture and region they still know very little about. Have they not learnt anything in the past century of destroying the region? Would you all like me to remind you of the treaty of Luasanne? or where Saddam Hussein got his chemical weapons from? Or what a disaster the UN sanctions were? Michael Rubin and such Turkish lobbyists are the new generation of know it alls that stay sour when their personal gains from a situation are obstructed.
    and Kak Qubad Talabanis Kurdish language is of a good standard so i’m not entirely sure what the point of that comment was! I wish people would know the facts before they criticize. It must be remembered that Kurdistan has only had autonomy since 1991 and its democracy has prospered more in the last 8 years than in any other region to standards other countries have spent centuries trying to achieve.

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