Friday, April 25, 2014

The KDP Trench

Massoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which has the reputation of being a clan affair in which members of the Barzani family and others from old Kurdish notable families exercise a corrupt rule over political and economic life.  At the moment, however, their actions to dig a trench to separate their territory from that of Syria's Kurds has become a flashpoint issue in regional Kurdish politics:
The KDP in Iraqi Kurdistan openly stands against Kurdish-led autonomous canton governments in northeast Syria, shutting its borders last year to impose an embargo and now digging a trench to entirely block crossings with Syria.
Syrian Kurdish journalist Rodi Muhammad Amin first broke the news of the trench digging on Iraq-Syria border earlier this month, but he was faced with KDP peshmerga militia threatening him to leave or otherwise get shot...
Thousands of Kurds protest since and have camped on the border against the KDP because the trench is very symbolic, bolstering borders world superpowers and occupation forces once drew and divided the Kurdish homeland, Kurdistan, into four regions over Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey...
Ten thousand Kurdish political prisoners also went on hunger strike across Turkish prisons on 20 April to condemn the KDP...
KDP attempts to legitimize the move in the name of the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government), but the Kurdish public in Iraq strongly condemn the trench and have demonstrated through every city with banners reading: "Not In Our Name."  
Certainly part of the KDP's aim is to maintain their own power in Iraqi Kurdistan by creating barriers to union, certainly economic and potentially later political, with what has emerged as a de facto Kurdish autonomous region in Syria.  Frankly, they have done this before.  At the time of the Iranian Revolution, the Barzanis allied with the Iranian government against Iran's Kurds.  In the 1990's, they sought Saddam Hussein's aid in fighting their Iraqi rivals the PUK, accusing the latter of ties to Iran.  The PUK was founded by educated dissidents opposed to Barzani's patrimonial style of leadership and has been more sincerely pan-Kurdist, though certainly not free of corruption or a willingness to engage in intra-Kurd warfare.

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