Leadership Council for Human Rights

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Michael Rubin vs. Kurdistan

Thursday, March 15, 2007 KurdishMedia.com - By Vahal Abdulrahman

It pains me to pen a single word against American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar, Michael Rubin, because he is a friend of the Iraqi people and his employer provided the Iraqi opposition with an enormous amount of assistance during the years leading up to the liberation of Iraq. However, his latest piece, “Enabling Kurdish Illusions,” has compelled me to write this response, in a way to clarify what might have gone wrong with a man who once took time off to go teach at Kurdistan’s universities and now complains about Secretary Rice daring to utter the word “Kurdistan.”

Undoubtedly Kurdistan is the only success story of a war that has cost thousands of American lives and billions of American taxpayer dollars, a war that Michael Rubin and his colleagues at AEI wholeheartedly supported. Yet instead of celebrating this success, Rubin, writes, for Turkey’s benefit, a carefully crafted blend of half-truths and accusations called, “Enabling Kurdish Illusions.” Is Michael Rubin not mindful of Turkey’s sentiments concerning the liberation of Iraq? Turkey is, after Israel and Egypt, the third largest recipient of US foreign aid, yet when the US requested Turkey’s assistance in launching its attack against Saddam’s regime, the Turkish government gave Uncle Sam a “No” as firm as that which was received from the Arab Street.

In his very first paragraph, Rubin justifies Turkish officials’ anger over Condi Rice’s utterance of the word, “Kurdistan,” an unsubtle way of showing for whom he was writing this article. Some suspect that Michael Rubin is a paid agent of the Turkish authorities, though I disagree. However, if Rubin’s disgust over how things are being managed in Iraqi Kurdistan stems from his conviction that federal structures should not be based on ethnic and sectarian divisions, then the Iraqi Kurdistan model is not what should be criticized.

Iraqi Kurdistan is a community of Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmens, Yezidis, Shabaks, Arabs and Kurds who live together in peace, a fact of which Michael Rubin is well aware having spent time living there while he taught classes at both Dohuk and Sileimani universities. Turkey cannot teach Iraq’s Kurds a single thing about tolerance, recognition of ethnic groups or respect for the rights of others as the Turkish regime and military establishment has yet to recognize the most shameful chapter of Anatolia’s history, the Armenian Genocide, and has yet to accept the fact that not everyone living within Turkey’s current borders is an ethnic Turk.

Rubin goes on to criticize the State Department for not making its $1.4 billion to the Kurdistan Regional Government conditional. The hypocrisy there is amusing considering the fact that Turkey receives far larger amounts from Foggy Bottom without the enforcement of any conditions, even elementary ethical considerations.

Some US military personnel stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan, Rubin says, printed business cards with Kurdish flags on them. What Rubin fails to mention is that to date, there has been not one American death in the three provinces that are administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government - Dohuk, Hewler (Erbil) and Sileimani. That fact, perhaps more than allegations of corruption, explains why the US military is Kurdish friendly.

Michael Rubin has a habit of calling the Kurds “clients” of Peter Galbraith, hence implying that Galbraith is President Barzani’s lobbyist in Washington. In doing so, he forgets two principal facts: (1) Galbraith’s friendship with the Kurds predates the time when the Kurdistan region or its political leaders had any money to pay advisors, and (2) this talk of backing a side for money can easily backfire in light of Rubin’s own support for the Turkish government.

From the safety of his comfortable office in Washington, Rubin says that the US would not bless a Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, but would understand it. Whatever the outcome, such unnecessary action would result in many Turkish and Kurdish deaths, the destabilization of Iraq’s only success story, and a deterioration in the ongoing vibrant economic relations between the Turks and the Kurds of Iraq. If we wish to speak of clients and wages paid, perhaps Rubin should think of the hundreds of active Turkish contractors in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq. Rhetoric aside, some of Michael Rubin’s clients may have monetary reasons not to promote a large-scale Turkish violation of the sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Vahal Abdulrahman is an Iraqi Kurdish observer, he can be reached at Vahal101@gmail.com


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