Luay Al Khatteeb writes: A capital city in Iraq is in turmoil. The government has been hit hard by collapsing oil prices and is under pressure from an array of activist groups to reveal the fate of missing oil revenues, and be far more transparent.
At the helm is a man many have long accused of intimidation and close links to one of the worst dictators of modern times. This government is seen by some as a primary ally in the war against the so called Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh).
In this troubled region, protesters clamour for change on the streets of major towns, with recent fatalities as the security services (including a secretive unit run by the ruling party) try to keep order. Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders and Human Rights Watch have all noted the intimidation of political opposition. Journalists have even been arrested and TV stations have been closed.
On the battlefields, an existential battle against genocidal terrorists is hampered by factionalism, with units failing to work together against the fanatical enemy, with the result that the front line has frozen in some places.
In parliament there is deadlock, while international oil companies complain they are owed vast sums of money. A leader clings to power, two years beyond his constitutional mandate, as national bankruptcy looms. Surely the above description refers to the beleaguered government in Baghdad?
Those who herald the story of astounding Kurdish success, like Thomas Friedman, should be shocked to find that the above description accurately relates to the government in Erbil, capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI). [Continue reading…]