Monday, May 17, 2010

Notes from a KRG friend

My understanding / thoughts re Baghdad:
Allawi has attracted considerable Sunni vote.
The issue that Malaki is somehow representative of "security" is something Al Hakim could build on but it is scare stuff because Allawi is known as a tough man who, given the chance, will drive the country less to the geographical right.
The thinking/middle class intelligent vote will become an increasingly important tool in shaping future Iraqi (democratically elected) governments.
Iraqis are revelling in democracy and free speech but unless democracy produces a strong leader who will steer Iraq to either economic prosperity or towards a secular society this is a false dawn. Paradoxically, the strong leader is likely to unravel some of the democracy which he will have manipulated to give foundations to his soap box (but that's an issue for later).

Regionally (ex Baghdad):
KRG area: Gorran (change movement) has sniped very successfully at the PUK and has won the young vote. It is also frightening the KDP because whilst the KDP's position in Sulaymaniyah is gaining ground, it is against the PUK and not against Gorran. On the street it seems that components of the KDP are behaving just like the worst money grabbing elements of the PUK have been in the last 3 years. If the result is the same as in the PUK area we are going to see a backlash against the KDP which only tough feudal government will sort out. Nechirvan Barzani is already being touted as coming back to the front line as opposed to steering from the back seat. There's a street-like hate of the KRG top powerbase from many Kurdish people who are distraught that the society-comes-first attitude of Mulla Mustafa Barzani is being squandered by abject greed from the current generations in power. The Turkish military is amassing forces at the border (literally, this week): expect their stealthy takeover to continue apace.
Kirkuk and the Northern Governorates south of the Green Line: some accommodation will need to be made by the new government as there is a void in the region. I know of at least one internationally-advised legal challenge to Baghdad from Governorates (Diyala or Salah al Din, I cannot remember which) to request for international projects. The inference here is that there has been a significant element of favouritism in the award of oil projects and unless the GOI system more fairly distributes projects geographically there will be trouble on the streets.
Basra and the Southern Governorates: again, some Governorates are devoid of any international pot of gold. They are angry. Otherwise there persists a massive infrastructure vacuum in the South, even though the first signs of an entirely international-led infrastructure investment is happening. The South (and therefore Baghdad) needs to fathom out how to permit simpler foreign direct investment because it provides the causal link to provide work for Iraqi men who otherwise will become a social and physical security nightmare. The South is deeply troubled because there is highly likely to be fighting whomever wins.

Common sense winner: Allawi, hands down the best person to keep all Iraq in some sort of steady independent state in a true democracy, force the thrust to economic independence with concurrent infrastructure improvements, and who has the competences to be Iraq's next benign dictator should that be a better route forward than weakness emanating from a coalition. He is also a much better man to deal with Erdogan.
That means.... probably someone else will scoop the pot.

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