Peregraf- Surkew Mohammed
The strict accents and expressions of Masrour Barzani to confront corruption and carry out reform will seem to Mam Ahmed like the same past speeches of politicians, until he sees senior corrupted politicians taken to court and prosecuted.
"Have we seen anyone giving bad speeches? They are all good orators, but what is the outcome of it? Don’t they all say there are thieves and corruption, then where are they? Why is there no law for them?" Mam Ahmed told Peregraf, his face clearly shows the exhaustion caused by miseries of life.
He is over 57 years and has three children, sitting in the summer's scorching sun on a Sulaymaniyah street with his cart and waiting to have some work to do.
Mam Ahmed has experienced a great deal of ups and downs in his life. But the last four years have been the worst part of his life as the financial crisis, that lead to a cut in the public sector's salaries by half, had affected him too. He said "what does the government has to do with us if our lives are not good? What benefits does it have to poor people?"
The ninth cabinet of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officially swore on June 10, promising to make reforms and confront corruption in a bid to raise the quality of life of the people. Even though the pledge is not new, Masrour Barzani, the head of the cabinet, insisted in front of the Parliament members that "from now on, we will be strict with those who are corrupted and break the law, the will of people shall be fulfilled."
One part of the cabinet plan, which is made by KDP in cooperation with PUK and Change Movement, is dedicated to reform and confronting corruption. It warns the officials in the government lest they take financial advantages of their positions and they are prohibited to engage in business and investment.
Rebeen Ali is a youth residing in Sulaymaniyah, who has obtained his degree in Sociology, but could not find a job in his field. He adopts a different job every now and then and is now a taxi driver.
Like Mam Ahmed, Rebeen does not trust the slogans and pledges of Masrour Barzani and his cabinet program to carry out a reform and fight corruption. He said "radical reform cannot be conducted by those who are the source of corruptions and wrongdoings, because if they do, they will harm their own and their party’s interest."
He thought that Masrour Barzani would bring about some changes, but they will not be up to the expectations, "they should do something so that people would say that he came after his cousin Nechirvan Barzani and did this and that, especially because he is the oldest son of Masoud Barzani and he has his father’s back. But we should not forget that he has been part of the political power, at least he has been of the top security authority for the few last years."
After the fall of Ba’eth Regime, especially after emerging as a strong opposition party in 2009, reform and confronting corruption have become the center of the slogans and the plans of political parties, but to no avail.
Accordingly, the news about fighting corruption is not new to the people of Kurdistan. Since these plans and slogans have been brought into reality, the trust between people and authority has faded away.
Reform in Kurdistan Region is essential to such an extent that Martyn Warr, the UK Consul General in Erbil, explains in an interview with Peregraf that his country will not continue to support Peshmerga Forces if the Ministry of Peshmerga is not committed to the reform program they have started few years in the Peshmerga Forces.
KDP, the backbone of the KRG cabinet, currently holds the slogan of a strong government that will fight against corruption. But it is still not clear how Masrour Barzani will deal with the cases of corruption and the projects prepared previously, especially those for whom certain councils were made during his father’s presidency.
During Masoud Barzani’s presidency (2005-2017), several time plans and projects to reform were declared. The latest had been in February 2016 when he made some decisions to review and reorganize all the government belongings, including security forces, the income and expenses of the oil industry, the administration structure of the government, the agricultural and tourist lands and other sectors.
Among those decisions, it had been mentioned that the companies which accumulated money and became rich illegally should be investigated, but this too, to no avail. The decisions made by Barzani in February 2016 were almost the same as those of March 2011, which were supposed to be implemented within four months, following the widespread demonstration (known as the demonstrations of February 17) in Sulaymaniyah.
The matters that had been discussed and given to councils concerning reform during the recent years have not been implemented in reality. People are waiting to see if Masrour Barzani can realize his pledge about reform and fight corruption, so that futile slogans will not weaken the trust between people and government, with the hope that Kurdistan will be saved from the perils brought about with corruption.