Ramadan Arrives, Kurdistan's Political Scene Remains an Open Question

5/22/2018 4:50:26 PM

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Stefano A. Ingannamorte
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With the advent of the Islamic world's holiest month, Iraq finds itself a country in search of a viable political pathway by which it can sustain itself socially, economically, morally, and spiritually.

During the month of Ramadan, the faithful are bound by sacred duty to strive to achieve a state of transcendence through systemized purification processes, to include daily prayer, reverent reflection, and long hours of fasting as prescribed in the Qur'an. By the application of such practices, devout Muslims seek to awaken and empower themselves through greater awareness that can lead to the attainment of higher levels of consciousness, which can pave the way for character improvement through the cultivation of purity of thought and good deeds, such as alms for the poor.

The various virtues religious leaders attempt to teach and inculcate into the hearts and minds of their followers makes the month of Ramadan, by way of example, a potentially compelling paradigm for positive political change and regeneration in Iraq, if the season's ennobling lessons and virtues should come to be embraced by its leaders as the aim of their personal and public conduct.

More often than not, members of the entrenched political parties that represent the Kurdistan Region have shown themselves to be lacking in the kinds of virtues that are most needed to elevate the state of politics here, which could be achieved by engaging in statecraft that produces transparency in government, high levels of efficiency, economic growth through diversification, and sound fiscal policy.

In the light of the KRG’s widely-known problems with corruption, cronyism, and its mounting fiscal deficit, which has resulted in three years of unpaid salaries and rising public debt to local creditors, it is unlikely that the region’s economic outlook will improve materially in the short-term. Moreover, if the electorate should not be inclined to embrace a political party that represents real change, the region's outlook is not likely to improve in the long-term either, which should serve as a cautionary and sobering thought for residents of the Kurdistan Region.

A New Movement Offers New Hope

The New Generation Movement, headed by the dynamic founder of the Nalia Group, Mr. Shaswar Abdulwahid Qadir, has shown itself to be an exception to the commonplace machinations of political parties that vie for parliamentary office and which operate behind a smokescreen of deception and dishonesty to achieve their often morally-questionable aims.

As leader of a political movement that was founded after Kurdistan's independence referendum in September of 2017, Mr. Abdulwahid energized many of the region's people who have been forgotten or marginalized by the ruling elite's chicanery, which has served to bankrupt a region rich in resources and potential.

In a matter of mere months, Mr. Abdulwahid proved himself capable of organizing a complex campaign, carefully defined his strategy and formulated a compelling political brand. His captivating speeches appealed to the large crowds of enthusiastic supporters who carried New Generation's message of hope for a better tomorrow far and wide throughout the Kurdistan Region and to key cities in Iraq. Considering that New Generation is the only political party in the region with a clearly codified, progressive vision for the future, as articulated in its seminal publication Kurdistan 2033, its potential appeal to Kurdistan's people is noteworthy and identifies New Generation as a natural leader.

The new political movement’s most ardent supporters are the country's youth. Demographically, they constitute a large part of Iraqi society, and as such, represent the future of the country, which bodes well for New Generation's future prospects. Yet, it appears from the official results of the election, that the movement was unable to convince many older, more conservative voters to “try on new shoes.”

This is understandable because New Generation is just that, something truly new in the region's political scene. While many older Iraqis recognize that there are serious problems with the established parties, many are unwilling to accept at face value the broad changes proposed by New Generation without being able to know if its leadership will keep its promises. It will take time for the movement to build trust across all demographics of the electorate. When this broader, deeper trust comes to be cemented, the contrast between what the established parties have done with the power afforded them during preceding years and the ideals New Generation stands for should become clear.

As matters now stand, there are serious allegations of electoral fraud potentially committed by long-established political players in the region, which may very well have taken parliamentary seats away from other parties, to include New Generation. Not only are such tactics illegal, they are self-serving, immoral and harmful to Iraq's prospects for beneficial change and advancements in key sectors of society.

During the month of Ramadan, we should all pray for change that may serve well our collective interests. However, in order to realize our hopes and dreams, we must also work diligently to identify the greatest good to which we may direct our time, attention, and actions and seek to support those who would empower and uplift us, or risk falling victim to wolves in sheep's clothing who work in the shadows to divide and dominate us for political and financial gain.

 Stefano A. Ingannamorte is a Camapaign and Media Consultant for New Generation.