Who’s the bleeding ulcer?

Michael Rubin

Once again, Michael Rubin is spewing anti-Kurdish vitriol. His latest piece entitled Saddam in Kurdistan is much of the same stuff he’s been writing for many years, though the tone does seem a wee bit harsher.

The website that published the article describes him as ‘a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute [AEI]; senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations; and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.’ But a better description comes from investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss, who often writes for the publication Nation. In February 2010 he wrote this about Rubin: ‘The 2000s produced a panoply of villains, cretins and bunglers on Iraq and the broader Middle East. Truly, however, none of them can hold a candle to the pudgy-faced boy wonder of the American Enterprise Institute, Michael Rubin.’

AEI is a conservative, pro-corporation think-tank based in Washington DC whose neo-con ‘scholars’ and affiliated individuals include the likes of John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and Richard Kagan.

In this latest essay he writes that ‘Iraqi Kurdistan was once a shining example of democracy’s potential in Iraq, but today it is freedom’s bleeding ulcer. While ordinary Iraqis have seen their freedoms increase since Saddam Hussein’s fall, the trajectory is the reverse in Iraqi Kurdistan…’

In May of 2010 he wrote a piece published in Rozhnama that said the KRG was ‘a region of Iraq which [is] no longer a beacon of liberty.’

In July of 2009 in the Daily Star he said that while the KRG ‘could once describe itself as a democratic beacon in the region, today such depictions lack credibility. Seventeen years after its first election, Iraqi Kurdistan is at best as democratic as Egypt or Iran, and worst akin to Syria or Tunisia.’

The Washington Post published one of his pieces in April 2009 in which he said, that ‘before Saddam Hussein was ousted, Iraqi Kurdistan was certainly more democratic than the rest of Iraq. But this is no longer the case.’

In January of 2008 in MEI Outlook he stated that ‘Iraq has changed, but Iraqi Kurdistan has not. After Saddam’s fall, many Iraqi Kurds expected that their region would liberalize and democratize. Rather than reform, however, regional politics have ossified. Barzani retains dictatorial control over the Duhok and Erbil governorates, and Talabani likewise dominates Sulaymaniyah. Freed from the shadow of Saddam, however, Iraqi Kurdistan has slid backward.’

And so on, and so on. But Rubin has a track record of misleading claims, says Right Web, a group that tracks militarists’ efforts to influence US foreign policy.

It is clear in the case of the KRG that he has a grudge; a personal vendetta against the leadership of the region. While the KRG deserves criticism in certain areas, Rubin’s diatribes are nothing more than the venomous outpourings of a scorned neocon, desperately seeking revenge. Some have opined that he wasn’t offered a cushy job by the KRG after his year in Slêmanî teaching some ten years ago and this has led to his seething hatred.

Rubin’s track record in the region includes working for a number of groups associated with the US ‘Israel lobby’ (including AEI, as well as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Middle East Forum), championing the US invasion of Iraq, suggesting the assassination of foreign leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reportedly misrepresenting translations of statements by Iranian officials, working at the controversial Pentagon Office of Special Plans, and consulting for the PR firm the Lincoln Group, which was accused of planting propaganda in the Iraqi press.

He whines in his article that ‘[i]n the Middle East, power always trumps principle’ and writes frequently about it. Is this a ‘Middle East’ phenomenon? Hardly. Mr Rubin should look at his own record and at Washington’s record. In Washington’s foreign policy money always trumps human rights. And he is one of the main cheerleaders of that policy.

Rubin’s wrath is not just aimed at the Kurds who run the KRG. He hates the Kurds in Turkey too. He is an outspoken and controversial proponent of hardline US foreign policies and this is manifested in his views on the PKK. Rubin and his AIE colleagues support Turkish generals and the lies that mask the truth and label the oppressed as ‘terrorists.’ As one Kurdish commentator put it: ‘It would seem that the Turkish glasses through which Mr Rubin sees the world have blinded his vision.’

Rubin calls Iraqi Kurdistan ‘freedom’s bleeding ulcer.’ One symptom of a bleeding ulcer is the ‘passing of foul smelling black, tarry stools.’ That describes Rubin’s ‘scholarly’ articles and his regional analyses. Perhaps then it is Rubin who is the bleeding ulcer.


16 thoughts on “Who’s the bleeding ulcer?

  1. thank you KB for posting this. rubin is no friends of the kurds and kurdistan. if he had the honesty and the capability to see “below the surface,” to quote from invisible man by ralph ellison, he would find that he is a turk, when it comes to the kurds, and a bigoted one in every sense of the word. oh, kudos to dreyfuss for his choice words as well.

  2. even though it is not nice to hear these words, and they feel anti-kurdish, never the less, it is true…. e.g. more journalists have been killed in the KRG then elsewhere in the world, or if you say something wrong about Barzani, you are dead!!

    Where is the democracy in Kurdistan???

  3. Being a journalist in the KRG may not be the safest profession, but it is not the most dangerous place to be a journalist. Far more journalists have been killed in Iraq, Iran, China, Russia and other countries. Having said that, the KRG does have a long road ahead to reach the point where media is free, fair and independent.

  4. Million dollar question:

    Where is democrasy in South of Kurdistan?

    if there was democrasy and many other things nowadays people won’t come to the street and burn the photo of dictators barzani and talibani…

    Dear KB, I don’t care what M R said about Kurds or anyone else. The importance is now the situation of Kurdish nation in south of Kurdistan is awful. People needs job, democracy and many other things which now it’s only for those who work for KDP and PUK.
    Open your eyes and be with your nation.

  5. Dear Serok, I don’t have an answer to your million-dollar question. And you’re right to ask it. The point of the piece I wrote was to show why MR does not have the right to ask that same question or try to answer it! He has absolutely no legitimacy or credibility. He does not write from a position of concern for democratic rights for the people in South Kurdistan or any rights for anyone in the Middle East. It is gratuitous vilification. That was the point. Hope you see the nuances of what I’m trying to say. My eyes are open. KB

  6. After all those years of his frenetic pro-Turkish agenda, Michael Rubin must feel like a million bucks when he steps into a room of neo-Cons and tries to convince others from his bottomless affection for Turks about how great Turkish democracy is. And, I’m sure he is popular now among his Turkish buddies when they accuse his neo-Con friends of trying to create a state for the Kurds. It’s a little ironic how things have turned upside down !

    The World must indeed be a lonely place for Michael Rubin these days…and he is seeking refuge in the only thing that has become second-nature to him — directing his venom at the Kurds.

    But, that’s not going to solve his bigger problem: the hand that feeds him is growing weaker each day…:)


  7. To thwart Michaels spiteful diatribes and spread of false anti-Kurdish hypes, we should have some one that every time he posts something online, to counter respond him back accordingly.

    We do admit we have ample shortcomings and imperfections in our system in Kurdistan, but simultaneously, we have enough educated and experienced people who know how to overhaul those issues, as well!


  8. Baqi…You are a rather prolific writer. I invite you to take a crack at responding to his next piece! KB

  9. Massoud Barzani is trying to build system like the system of Saudi Arabia. He wants to be King and then his son and grandson inherit kingdom after him for many generation to com. Barzani and Talabani are already dictator in Kurdistan. Michael Rubin is informing the Kurdish people truth.
    There are thousands of people getting paid to write false information’s about the greatness of Barzani and Talabani dictatorship in Kurdistan.
    Barzani and Talabani are dictators and corrupt politician in Kurdistan.
    The US Government is not supporting dictators like before. Barzani and Talabani will be defeated soon by Kurdish people revolution.

  10. Barzani and Talabani dictatorship in Kurdistan
    Barzani Sheik’s and Barzani sufi’s relationship is like Master and Slave. There are more than four Kurdish tribes within Barzani tribes. The Barzani Sheik’s families most likely are Jews originally. Massoud Barzani said Barzani Sheik’s are one thousand men now. It is not true. Even if they are one thousand men and sufi are twenty thousand men. The Kurds in south Kurdistan are more than four million people.
    Kurdish people are determined to fight religious Sheik’s and Sayyied Kurds with Arab origin as leaders. Kurdish people thought that religious Sheik’s and Sayyied is honest and honorable people in Kurdistan. The Kurds followed them for over 200 years by now after they dumped the Tribal leaders in Kurdistan.
    For lat twenty years the Sheik’s and Sayyied are running the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). For example Sheik Massoud Barzani, Sheik Jalal Talabani, Sayyied Kamal Kirkuki, Sayyied Araf tayfor, Sayyied Nasreen Berwari, Dayyied Azad Berwari and hundred others from Sheik’s and Sayyied families who are running the KRG.
    It comes out that Sheik’s and Sayyieds are corrupt and thieves just like the Kurdish Tribal leaders in the past. Today young Kurds well educated and want to build country based on the constitutions and rule of laws.
    Piece of paper with “constitutions” written on it are better than Sheik’s, Sayyied, tribal leaders and political leaders of Kurdistan. Constitutions are not liars like Barzani and Talabani. Rule of laws are not liars like Barzani and Talabani. Constitutions and Rule of laws do not want to buy people like Barzani and Talabani families do and use them as servant and slaves.
    It is time for Kurds to get educations and stop fighting one another for Sheik’s, Sayyied, Tribal leaders and political leaders. Educations are the key for success. No one can use you or fool you when you have an education. Not listen to sufi and those who are putting up their own mother for sale to make some money on the expansive of Kurdish people.

  11. KB… There is a very good English movie I have forgotten the name.

    By narrating a part of it briefly, you might recall:

    Back during WW2, the German succeeded in demoralizing the Allied forces by sending one of their best snipers to only target US senior military officers. This guy perished scores of them, and caused real panic among the troops.

    After being inflicted heavy physiological loss, finally, the US military came up with the design that the only method to stop this guy is by dispatching one of their best snipers to counter him. The German sniper was eliminated soon. It bore double negative impact on the German forces and led to their unconditional surrender in that front.

    Tit for tat.

  12. Hamma Mirwaisi,

    You are making a full out of yourself. The names you have lebled as Seyd or Şêx are incorrect. Azad Berwarî is not from the Şêx family at all, him and I are from the same village and I would be ashamed if he was from the Şêx family. He is from a family that actually served the Şêx family as Mirîdên Şêxî.

    Talabanê and Barzanî families were NEVER from şêx families. This is a lie and your an educated assumption!

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