Sunday, May 22, 2005


Below is the latest email from my 'mole' in Iraq. Where is the so-called mainstream press?

The election at the end of January 2005 was more than a national election to elect an assembly to write a constitution. It also included elections in governorates and districts, and in the Kurdish areas of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulamaniyah, the populace was asked to elect a Kurdish Regional Parliament.

The Kurdish Parliament is suppose to appoint a Kurdish Regional Government,or KRG. And the KRG, is the Kurds pay-off for supporting the neo-cons before and doing the Bush Jr. war.

Bremer enshrined the KRG in the Transitional Authority Law. The TAL is a highly controversial document, even though it had significant input from the Governing Council. The two most controversial features of the TAL are the KRG and the phrase that Iraqi law is based on Islam as the national religion. This is one of those documents that had to satisfy everyone, and thus satisfied none.

None the less, perhaps its most important achievement was to lay out a timetable and the steps needed to elect a democratic government in Iraq. And this is what was suppose to happen in January 2005.

Of course in the Kurdish region of Iraq all of us knew who would win the election. Long before the voters went to the polls, the word on the street and at dinner tables around Arbil was that Talabani would get a national high level position, probably President, which is what happened, and that Masoud Barzani would become the President of the KRG. Also, the two main parties, KDP and PUK agreed that the Prime Minister of KRG would be Nachrivan Barzani, the nephew of Masoud, and that the deputies would be from Talabani's PUK. (By the way, Dohuk and Arbil are KDP and Barzani; and Sulamaniyah is PUK and Talabani.) The plan at the time of the election was that as soon as the national government is formed, the KRG would be formed. And what that meant was that the two governments in the Kurdish region, KDP's in Arbil and PUK's in Suly, would be merged, and representation in the assembly and amongst ministers would be evenly split between the two groups.

But that has not happened. Even though the national government was formed about two weeks ago, there still is no KRG and the two government remain divided as before. Why? Simply put, because Masoud Barzani reneged on all agreements. He was suppose to be in office as KRG president as long as Talabani is Iraq's President. But instead, he is demanding a 12 year term of office, control of the Kurdish security forces, control of the economy and finance, and he refuses to accept a deputy president.

The Suly PUK is naturally not amenable to any of this. It would be anathema for them to cede this level of power to this tyrant (and he really is).The KRG is thus not formed, and it does not look like it will be any time soon.

Though speculative, but good speculation, Condi's mission to Arbil this week was to get Masoud to cooperate. The photos and videotapes showing Condi and Masoud scowling at each other are clear evidence that their meeting did not go well. I can imagine that Condi told Masoud that the US did not come to lose soldiers in Iraq to make him a dictator over Iraqi Kurdistan. He probably told her to stuff it, and mind her own business.

As an aside, but one with tangential relevance, one cannot find an Iraqi flag in Arbil and Dohuk. The Kurdish flag flies over all government buildings, it is on the shoulders of soldiers' uniforms, and the Iraqi flag is absent even at the border at Zakho. More recently, especially since the election, certain buildings and uniforms have dispensed with the Kurdish flag also in favor of the KDP flag. Except for the currency, there is no evidence anywhere in these two governorates that this is part of Iraq. But even accepting new money was not without protest. Bremer had to work very hard to get Barzani to do away with "Swiss Dinars" and use instead what the
locals here call "Bremer Dinars".

I could go on for a long time about the awful antics of Barzani and his KDP. But this is enough to digest for now. The perplexing feature of this story is what you are on about all the time - why is this story not reported in the main stream press. This is yet another Bush failure. Has our media become so timid that they cannot report on the recalcitrance of a Saddam in the making?