Kurdish leaders, facing popular protest against corrupt and undemocratic government in Iraqi Kurdistan, on Wednesday turned to Baghdad for help in quelling demonstrations that have rocked the Kurdish capital of Sulaymaniyah. Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq and also head of the old-line Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is said to have requested help from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; a source in Sulaymaniyah said that Talabani depends on a 3,000-man “security force” that is largely Arab.
The Sulaymaniyah source said that when Talabani appeared there Monday in an effort to calm demonstrators, protesters began chanting: “Mu-bar-ak, Mu-bar-ak,” in a reference to the deposed Egyptian president. Talabani’s colleague in the PUK, Burham Salih, this week reportedly offered to resign as president of Iraqi Kurdistan to halt the protests.
"There have been mafia-style practices used against the free media in the region," said Salih's letter in an unusually blunt criticism of the Kurdish leadership, according to Agence France-Presse. The AFP said 95 people were wounded in clashes between police and security forces in Sulaymaniyah Sunday and Monday, and seven more on Tuesday.
Mohideen Mifthah (AFP via Sri Lanka Sunday Times) notes that the "near-daily demonstrations" in the region are contributing to the creation of a new image for the KRG. Mifthah also notes, "A poll conducted by the Washington-based International Republican Institute in December offered hints for the causes behind the anger in Sulaimaniyah.
Some 62% of respondents in Sulaimaniyah said Kurdish MPs were not listening to their needs, and 35% said the economic situation in Kurdistan was either 'somewhat bad' or 'very bad,' both of which were the highest in the region." Sonia Roy (Foreign Policy Journal) has a lengthy essay on the Kurds and the various issues -- historical and contemporary -- which have effected and are effecting the people and the KRG.
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