Kurdish leadership from hardship to the state

Fazil Mirani, KDP’s Polibureau Secretary.
By Dr Habeeb Tomi, Oslo
The role and impact of Fazil Mirani
At the peace congress following World War I, the then president of the United States of America Woodrow Wilson did not approve the hidden agreements between France and Britain for the division of the Middle East between themselves. John K. Cooley writes in his book “Alliance Against Babylon” that President Wilson supported the establishment of independent states for Kurds and Armenians, because both of them had lost millions of people in wars against Turks. However, this did not happen and the Kurdish question has stayed unresolved to date.

From the beginning of the establishment of the new Iraqi state in the year 1921, something called “The Kurdish Question” came into being. Although the issue has roots in older times, the addition of Mosul State to Iraq complicated the issue further. It became a turning point and has led to an armed struggle for decades.

The Kurds’ wars against the government’s military during this long history led to the rise of a number of Kurdish leaders with tribal backgrounds, who had a vital role in the continuation of this national movement. During this period a number of charismatic leaders such as Sheikh Mahmoud Hafid and Mala Mustafa Barzani became very famous and gave the Kurdish question national, regional and international recognition.

But armed struggle in the mountains would not have any fruits if it is not supported by other Kurds in the cities and the regional and international events. Hence the establishment of a political party to take this political responsibility became a must and hence the Kurdistan Democratic Party was established in July 16, 1946 by Mala Mustafa Barzani and under the umbrella of the Mahabad Republic on the Iranian Kurdistan soil.

Later the activities of the KDP were transferred to inside Iraq with headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan but having an active role in the center of the country to introduce the Kurdish question and their rights to the other Iraqi people. KDP has tried to publicize the hardships of the Kurds on an international level as well.

Kurdish national is a peace-seeking nation and wants to have its own state and name registered in the list of other free nations in the world. Human Rights give Kurds the right to self-determination and hence it can have an independent state over which the Kurdish flag can wave. This is a natural right and cannot be negotiated.

The KDP started its political activities and there was an ideal coordination between the leadership of the armed struggle and the party leadership.

Since its establishment the KDP asked for self-rule for the Kurds, but it changed that slogan in mid 1990s to demanding an independent Kurdish state. However, in 2003 and after the fall of the Baathist Regime, it agreed, as per the recommendation of the United States, to stay within the Federal Iraq as a temporary solution till the situations become suitable for the establishment of a Kurdish state.

KDP is a liberal and secular party and is one of the major Kurdish political parties. Its founder Mala Mustafa Barzani stayed as the party’s leader till he passed away in 1979. Afterwards Massoud Barzani, the KDP’s current leader took his place.

Struggle in the mountains

There is no doubt that transmission from armed struggle to governance needs skills and experiences different than those of the mountains. There are some figures that participate in negotiations with the central government, including Fazil Mirani, KDP’s Polibureau Secretary.

Fazil Mirani is the son of a farmer from Kurdistan who has spent his live struggling and with life and working inside the KDP. He enjoys reading and self-development. He has worked voluntarily to enter he world of politics to reach his current position.

I met Mr. Mirani once in 2009 during the opening of a Chaldean party congress in Ainkawa. At that time some problems were created aiming at distorting the situations, but they did not reach any objective due to his presence.

At the beginning of the congress Mr. Mirani delivered a speech in Arabic language in which he was speaking very wisely that showed his open-mindedness. Mr. Mirani has a BA degree in law and he started his political career from there so as to create a balance between the logic of respect and law. I have also learned from his speeches that he is heavily inspired by Mala Mustafa Barzani.

He believes in co-existence and different opinions and from his speeches it is clear that he believes in moderation, and sometimes he expresses his ideas along with the official opinions due to the high position he has in the party, sometimes he creates a balanced relationship between his and his party’s stances to encourage others to share their opinions as well.

The importance of Mirani’s personality is that he can deal with the new and post-revolution generation, a generation that is used to welfare, nice cars, party, new science and technology, internet, mobile, satellite channels and various media channels. And the question is how he can deal with this generation.

He had to keep a balance between the principles of his party, the experiences and principles of those who struggled for their nation and their country on the one hand, and the post-revolution generation who have different thinking and interests. Hence one needs to find another language to communicate with the internet and mobile generation. This is because it is not in the interest of the party to turn its back on this generation as it would be a major factor in the Kurdish state in the future. Similarly, one should not forget the principles of the struggle that became the pillars for the continuation of the Kurdish national movements with the older generations.

This new situation needs experience and logic to deal with these people. Commenting on this issue, Mr. Mirani told Gulan Magazine “The party needs to open its doors towards the youths, especially those who have new vision for events and we need to seek a common vision and language between ourselves and the youths who are born or raised after the revolution. Sometimes they have wrong understanding of the struggle and think that party activities are classic and old-fashioned and sometimes they are not proud of their nation and claim they only care about their own welfare and private life and they want their demands be met. It is natural that people push for individual rights but they should not ignore the society’s freedom.”

Mirani added “The huge energy the youths have should not be dealt with in a wrong way or one should not say that they are not satisfied with anything and then be ignored. They are the generation of their own era, the generation of technology, internet, free media and satellite channels. Hence it is normal if they have different perspectives towards some issues. We need to read both sides very carefully. We need to tell them what they are saying is correct but they need to help us in reaching common points. We created today, and you need to join us by your inventions. This is the practical modernization rather than only a theoretical one, i.e. making use of the new blood and minds and linking them to the Gulan and Aylul Revolutions and other revolutions and struggles of the Kurdish nation. They should not think these are not part of their culture. ”

There are some other complex responsibilities that the KDP is taking as the political representative of the region, and that is the success of the struggle and the result that now a wide area of the region is free, but one should not forget the past, because the gathering of all parties and powers under one umbrella is the result of the joint struggles and the existence of a common enemy. The common goal is confronting the invading enemy as all understand that it is in their interest to unite in order to achieve their main goal, which is independence. Then after reaching their goal, the parties and powers will separate from each other and each will have its own strategy. Now the KDP has to try to find a common language among the political powers that contains Islamic, secular and radical parties.

In this story, Fazil Mirani has had an important presence in directing those parties in a professional way and in a wise political manner, which is aimed at bringing the opinions together.

As mentioned above, Mr. Mirani has chosen moderation to guarantee the rights of the others while not disregarding his party’s interests.

Military work needs speed and urgent decisions, but during peaceful times, one needs to have a number of advisors both inside and outside the party to work with the secretary, especially in a large party like KDP.

Now we talk about another issue that is the relations with the center (Baghdad). The tensions that happen in the relations from time to time, which is mainly due to the fact that the central government does not yet understand the notion of federalism completely. Mr. Mirani argues that half of the officials in Baghdad do not recognize federalism, and those officials deal with the Kurdistan Region as a minority against the majority in Baghdad. The result is that we don’t see a written strategy and all the agreements and alliances are temporary and continuously changeable. In this situation the Kurds have become like a political bridge whose benefit is only seen after reaching the objective. Therefore, the Kurdish leadership should always be cautious on achieving the rights they have agreed upon and are set forth in the constitution.

Following the attack on the Christians and Yezidis in December 02, 2011 by some unidentified armed groups, I arranged an interview with Mr. Mirani about the relations with the other parties in Kurdistan. He had a clear vision and deep understanding of these concerns of the other communities in Kurdistan, especially the Chaldean community that, unlike the other minorities, claims to be deprived of its rights in Kurdistan. And I understand Mr. Mirani’s view about the rights of the other communities and I always notice that he looks at them equally, and that is why the Chaldeans should have their representatives at the Region’s leaders who should hear about the concerns of Chaldeans from the Chaldeans themselves rather than from others.

Fazil Mirani’s personality has a national dimension and understands the nature of the Iraqi nation very well. He is also well aware of the political process and its social and tribal dimensions. Hence we can classify Mr. Mirani with those figures who are aware of the composition and situation of Iraq and Kurdistan. He is also a suitable pragmatic personality for soft political activities on the basis of a civil Kurdish state built on the foundation of justice, equality, coexistence among the components of the society.

* Translated from Arabic by Aiob Mawloodi