Oggi ‘Giovine Europa Now’ da’ voce a una testimonianza dal Kurdistan. Hardy ci parla dei problemi della sua regione e del Medio oriente. Today ‘Giovine Europa Now’ welcomes a Kurdish testimony: Hardy Bazyani, a Kurdish citizen and a businessman living in ‘Iraqi’ Kurdistan, talks about his country and the Middle East. Thank you very much, Hardy, for this great testimony!
1. Dear Hardy, thank you very much for accepting this interview. Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Hardy, I grew up in Bazyan, which is our town in Kurdistan, and I have finished school there as well. At the moment, I am managing our family business dealing with refined oil products.
- You are a Kurdish citizen, living in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. How is daily life there, in society, the economy, and politics?
Life here is easy for the majority of people and they seem to be very content with whatever they have. People like the freedom they have politically and socially. You can practice whatever religion that you like, there is room for Christianity and Muslims, Shia or Sunnis; most of us are Sunnis by the way. When I say there is no problem with religion, I don’t mean it is like Europe where they think to give the right to Muslims to have a mosque is something brave and then you talk about it. Here it is different; Christians have this right as a natural thing; we don’t say ‘we gave permission’, we just recognize their right.
I think people are very happy with the political situation and nobody has the upper hand here. Nobody is very strict and nobody is very liberal. Most people are in the middle.
- On 1 July, president Barzani announced that “Iraq’s Kurds will hold an independence referendum within months.” Is the independence dream about to become a reality?
I think the events after 9/7/2014, when the ISIS ran over Mosul and Tikrit, created a reality where it is very much possible to have Kurdistan’s independence without us killing a lot of Arabs and them killing a lot of us. This is a reality that has been forced upon our leaders, I am sure they do not like to declare independence as long as we are not economically independent. We cannot become truly independent without other parts of Kurdistan, a fact which is at the moment not really closer to reality than before. Our independence depends on what Turkish politics allows us. We cannot be independent without the blessing of at least one of our big neighbors, Turkey or Iran. Iran is way too close to the Iraqi government to be able to support us.
4. How would the USA and Israel react to Kurdish independence?
I don’t think Israel’s opinion matters at all. They don’t support us. They only support us because we are hated by everybody that hates Israel as well. I think they hurt us when they mention on TVs that they support us in this area. I welcome any support but Israel’s support is not genuine, I think. The US cannot support an independent Kurdistan because it has invested a lot in having a successful Iraqi state, which has never existed without force. Since in this age we are living it is not acceptable to kill Kurds like they used to, I think when we will be independent they will accept our independence. What is not clear is the Russian position, which I think is important to our independent Kurdistan.
5. How would Turkey react? Turkey hosts some 20 million Kurds, mainly in the East. What would happen?
I think Turkey would be ok with a limited and controlled South Kurdistan as an independent nation. We have been dealing with each other for a while and we understand each other much better than before. We are not scared of each other’s intentions and we don’t think that the other party is untrustworthy, which is very important in dealing with people in our area. I think Kurds in Turkey will move to have more political freedom and exercise more powers in their own areas with the Turkish state which I think has become more democratic in the last 10 years.
Kurds in Turkey understands our situation in the south; they would not do anything to hurt our opportunity to have independence when it comes to that. This is a dream for them as well. I think a Kurd on the Turkish side would like to see us independent as much as I would.
- If we look south-east, we find Iraq in shatters. What has gone wrong since the 2003 war? Where has the USA (and the West) failed?
I think they were thinking ‘we have politicians like George Washington, we will have somebody like the founding fathers’, in a modern Iraqi state where everybody has a stake in keeping it safe and preserving it. This is a dream, it will not come true. Shiite and Sunnis will never be able to share power. They would not accept each other and respect each other. They will always be looking to control each other, and by force. And when you use force to make a nation or a group of people to live with you and you start to control their lives, after a while it becomes clearer that you have become a dictator and the only way to have a rule of law is to force people to live by your rules.
This is what happened to the Sunnis. They have been forced to live by Shiite rule for the last 10 years and they were fed up and they were so fed up they actually accepted a terrorist group like ISIS to help them to get rid of this unjust rule. It is very difficult like when you are constantly humiliated in your own community. This happened everyday to the Sunnis under the hand of Malik.
- What is your opinion on the overall chaos in the Middle East, particularly since the failure of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’?
I think the Arab spring was a mistake, nobody has benefited from this. Maybe it is nice idea in the west that oppressed Arabs have risen and they will have a fully functioning democracy and rule of law, and respect minorities in their own communities. This would not happen here. Liberal democracy which is the acceptable form of democracy to the west will only happen when the GDP per Capita is 10000 dollars in a country; otherwise it becomes an Islamic state by the majority vote. I am talking about a genuine referendum in any country where there was the Arab spring, if you have them vote tomorrow they will become an Islamic state which is not acceptable to some people inside the country and outside in the west.
- What could bring stability and peace to the whole region? Do you see any solution?
I think a lot of separations would have to happen, Kurds, Israel and Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, South of Iraq.
- Kurdistan has oil and other natural resources. Where is it looking for buyers – West (USA, EU) or East (China, Russia, Asia in general)?
I think we have no problem with the west even though we see them as hypocrites when they do not support us in our independence quest. We are not going to move eastward even if there is not a lot of support in the west. We do not trust the Russians or the Chinese. We have not had a lot of deal with them. So I guess we are practicing the saying that we like the devil that we know and close to us.
- A final question on the ‘emerging countries’, such as the BRICS. Is the world distribution of power changing – if yes, in what direction?
I think it is apparent that is changing but the role of China is very important; Russian is not a reliable partner is that equation. If China wants, I think the emerging countries will write the rule for the next century.