Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Future of Egypt-Israel Relations

Koshan Ali Khidhir (Zamanee)*

Photo: Human Events


The events that began in Tunisia in January 2011 and spread to Egypt and then Libya, Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, Syria, and beyond, shook the political, intellectual, and social foundations of the Middle East. This political quake can still be felt, and no one is quite sure when the aftershocks will conclude, or when another shock wave of popular unrest might occur.

The Muslim Brothers is rising to power in Egypt and there will be some arguable questions, that this essay will discuss it. What can we anticipate of such an organization? However, what will be the role of the Islamists after the collapse of the dictatorships? What is their perspective toward their neighbors, namely Israel? And what is the future of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, or the Camp David accords?

The essay started with theoretical background on international relations in the Middle East; then other sections discuss above questions.

Theories to Analyze International Relations in the Middle East

“The Middle East’s unique features defy analyses based on any one conceptual approach to international relations,� (Hinnebusch, 2003, p.1) therefore, this would be an ideal starting point for understanding how IR theory works and how it can help us understand and explain Middle Eastern regional interactions.

The main issue appears to be that the Middle East, despite of its significant position in world politics, is neglected or ignored by western scholars as a source for theory development, and too many international relations (IR) scholars has seen the region as too unique, or as not fitting very well into IR approaches. Furthermore, there is important distinction should be made between IR scholars who use the Middle East as a case study, and Middle East specialists that are also “genuine� IR theorists (Sasley, 2011, p.14). Three scholars have been successful at conceptualizing international relations in the Middle East, that all of them discuss various IR approaches. Fred Halliday (2005) concerned about historical-sociological framework, Raymond Hinnebusch and Anoushiravan Ehteshami (2002) construct a neo realist scaffold. In addition, Hinnebusch (2003) later expands their approach by creating a multi-theoretical explanation rooted in historical sociology, constructivism, structuralism, and neorealism.

According to Halliday, good theory should be conceptually comprehensible and rigorous, have historical context, appropriate to frame analysis and research agenda, and engage with ethical issues. In addition, Halliday agrees to classify IR theory into analytic and normative theories, where the former is composed of set of concepts designed to elucidate how international relations work; the latter is concerned about concepts and norms (Halliday, 2005, p.21).

Halliday elaborates IR literature on the Middle East into five broad categories: historical analysis, foreign policy analysis, realist paradigm and its modifications, ideational explanations, and historical and international sociology (2005, p.24). Historical analysis concerns about the history of a country’s foreign policy in a limited frame and tries to explain why and how state activity takes place through that historical narrative. It is more descriptive than explanatory (Sasley, 2011, pp.12-15). Historical explanations are potent to shed greater insight into the knowledge of Middle Eastern societies than some claimants of IR theory (Halliday, 2005, p.24).

IR realist scholars prioritize the state as the leading institution and the one to which theories much point, in contrast to that in the case of the Middle East itself, it is non-state actors who often control domestic and regional politics more (Halliday, 2005, pp.27-30).

Hinnebusch and Ehteshami (2005, p.1) assume that in the Middle East the state is the main actor in foreign policy and its elites have an interest in maximizing the autonomy and security of the state. They agree to the realist claim that Middle East state system result in anarchy as a built-in characteristic.

According to Hinnebusch (2005) neorealism holds that systemic insecurity makes regular behavior, notably balancing against threats, but this is merely typical to the extent that a state system of relatively sovereign unified states is consolidated. However, for Hinnebusch the Middle Eastern state system is not yet consolidated, the dynamics of systemic level would have slight effect on state behavior (Hinnebusch & Ehteshami, 2005).

According to Hinnebusch foreign policies of the Middle East states are shaped around three conceptually diverse environments. The first is the domestic level, which he relies on theories of state building. The second is regional systemic level and the third the global level, that he relies on structural explanations of international relations where core-periphery relations are seen as a basic feature of Middle Eastern states (Hinnebusch & Ehteshami, 2005, pp.3-6).

Hinnebusch argues that world system had contradictory influences on the foreign policies of local states in the Middle East (Hinnebusch & Ehteshami, 2005, p.6).

Illustrating Arab Spring

This article is to shed light on Egypt revolution, that the Muslim Brotherhood played a leading role (Johnson, 2011) in uprising revolution and its wake. According to Barry Rubin, Director of Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, the causes for this revolution in Longer-term, was the failure of the Arab nationalist regimes that have governed the Arab world since the 1950s and early 1960s. Their inability to keep their promises--pan-Arab union, rapid social and economic progress, genocide against Israel, driving out Western influences--have long been clear. Their corruptions, lack of freedom, and economic shortcomings have long been clear. On the other hand, immediate causes include elite dissatisfaction with the succession of Mubarak's son and especially hard times economically (K. A. Khidhir, personal communication, November 25, 2011).

Protestors who led Egypt's revolt were young, liberal, and open minded. They were the bloggers who first proposed the demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak, resigned Egypt president, on Twitter; Facebook activists who were sending invitations for their friends to protest. One of the leading activists was Wael Ghonim, the 30-year-old Google executive who, after Egypt's state security agency detained him for 12 days, rallied the crowds to hold Tahrir Square (Trager, 2011). These activists refuted Religious and traditional ideologies, like claims by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and calling for civil liberties, religious equality and tolerance, and an end to dictatorship (Dickey,2011).

In order to avoid emergence of Islamic parties, the West has accepted and justified of the worst dictatorships in the Arab world. And it was these very regimes that demonized their Islamist rivalries, particularly Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, that historically represents the first well-organized mass movement with the political impact to match (Ramadan, 2011a). For more than 60 years, the Brotherhood has been illegal but tolerated. It has demonstrated a powerful capacity to mobilize the people in each relatively democratic election, where it has been a participant (Ramadan, 2011b).

Muslim Brotherhood Ideology and Worldview

As the Arab Spring turns to blazing summer, Islamist movements have quickly formed political parties and mobilized national campaigns designed to uncover their new image before elections in the fall and winter (Ghosh, 2011). The Muslim Brotherhood, the main political entity in Egypt, has formed the Freedom and Justice Party. There is controversies over relations between the party and the Brotherhood, but leaders of the party declare that they are self-organized entity (Trager, 2011). Importantly, Brotherhood is planning for the future.

Essam el-Erian, a top Brotherhood leader, declares that the thing we stood against is gone, so now we have to re-examine what we stand for (Ghosh, 2011).
The Muslim Brotherhood may have strong role to reshape the Egypt state system and foreign policy, because it has long history and popularity. It began in the 1930s as a legalist, anti-colonialist and nonviolent movement that claimed legitimacy for armed resistance in Palestine against Zionist expansionism during the period before World War II. The writings from between 1930 and 1945 of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Brotherhood, masterminded organization’s path that he opposed colonialism and strongly criticized the fascist governments in Germany and Italy (Ramadan, 2011a). He rejected the use of violence in Egypt, even though he considered it legitimate in Palestine, in resistance to the Zionist Stern and Irgun terror gangs (Spencer, 2011a, p.602).. He believed that the British parliamentary model represented the kind closest to Islamic principles (Ramadan, 2011a).

Al-Banna's objective was to found an "Islamic state" (Ramadan, 2011a) based on gradual reform, beginning with popular education and broad-based social programs. He was assassinated in 1949 by the Egyptian government on the orders of the British occupiers (Ramadan, 2011b).

Following Gamal Abdel Nasser's revolution in 1952, the movement was subjected to violent repression. They are forced to reorganize abroad. While many of its senior leaders would spend years in Egyptian jails and its top theoretician, Sayyid Qutb, would be executed, the group was fortunate in having two havens where it was able to regroup (Johnson, 2011). Many of its members were forced into exile: some in Saudi Arabia, where they were influenced by the Saudi literalist ideology; others in countries such as Turkey and Indonesia, Muslim-majority societies where a wide variety of communities coexist. Still others settled in the West, where they came into direct contact with the European tradition of democratic freedom (Rubin, 2010, pp. 105-117).

Western countries are doubtful about the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda, some media organizations even declared it has ties with terrorist organization (Salih, 2009, pp.150-154). For example, NewWeek has published a dossier that accuses the Muslim Brotherhood uses “moderate-seeming politicians to further its extremist agenda� (Dickey,2011).

Regarding these claims, Tariq Ramadan, Prominent Muslim Scholar, refutes these claims and declares that the West continues to use "the Islamist threat" to justify its passivity and outright support for dictatorships (Ramadan, 2011b). The organization has clearly declares that they are "not using violence, denouncing terrorism, and not working with jihadists" (Trager, 2011). In addition, it is seen as a social movement as much as a political entity. Egypt's poor have long associated the Brotherhood with its social services, like free clinics and schools (Ghosh, 2011).

It is suggested that the west should have more analyses of political Islam, in order to get the essence of Islamism, that they have different faces through history and regions.

Muslim Brotherhood Comes to Power, Israel Worries

The undergoing fundamental changes in the Middle East expected to affect Israel's relations with the Arab world (Marshall, 2011). Israeli officials unveil their anxiety in their statements talking about Arab Spring, especially revolutions in Egypt. It fears for the survival of the 1979 Peace Treaty (Seale, 2011). Western commentators routinely describe the Treaty as a "pillar of regional stability," a "keystone of Middle East diplomacy," a "centerpiece of America's diplomacy" in the Arab and Muslim world. This is certainly how Israel and its American friends have seen it (Seale, 2011). On the other hand, the treaty could be seen as one of the strategic position that has, by neutralizing Egypt, guaranteed Israel's military dominance over the region for the next three decades (Seale, 2011).

Israel is going through a tough time of isolation in the Middle East. While Israel has diplomatic relations with only three nearby countries, in recent months its ambassadors have been humiliatingly forced out of two of them: Turkey and Egypt. The king of the third, Jordan's Abdullah, commented that Israel was "scared" (Seale, 2011).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said we are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and (elsewhere) in our region (dickey, 2011). "The peace between Israel and Egypt had endured for over three decades and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue." (Mitnick, 2011)

All the same, anti-Israeli feeling in Egypt is growing. This feeling could be seen in different levels of that country, political parties, elites, and even ordinary people. Some radical political parties want to close the Suez Canal to the Israeli navy and to block the sale of natural gas to Israel. The new Freedom and Justice Party says the 1979 treaty should be "revised" (Seale, 2011).

The Muslim Brotherhood and its new party most likely not be committed to the peace treaty with Israel, or will be confrontational, so that would be a major strategic shift in Egypt’s orientation (Mitnick, 2011). The party is having majority of the seats in Egypt’s new parliament, it is likely to push Egyptian foreign policy further away from U.S. interests (Trager, 2011). As a result, it is expected that post-Mubarak Egypt to improve relations with the United States enemies in the region, especially Iran and denigrate the Camp David accords with Israel.

The mainstream Arab citizens even have their view on the treaty, which is essentially different from former ruling governments in the region. In a Pew Research Center poll published two months after the revolution 54 percent of Egyptians favored annulling the peace agreement with Israel, versus 36 percent who wanted to maintain it, the rest were undecided (Spencer, 2011b, p.778).
Israeli government will encounter crucial situations in the future, because most of candidates for Egypt presidency have anti-Israel feeling. For example, Amr Mousa, one of the candidates, has defined by a Western diplomat that “the source of his popularity is almost entirely derived from his image as an Arab nationalist who's very critical of Israel" (Dan, 2011).

There is also another perspective, Sam Vaknin, editor-in-chief of Global Politician journal, declares that both sides (Israel and Egypt) benefit greatly from America’s largesse (to the tune of 2-3 billion USD annually each). The Egyptian military is unlikely to give up such a generous endowment. Israel also buys half its natural gas consumption from Egypt. There are intelligence-sharing programs in place (K. A. Khidhir, personal communication, November 30, 2011).

Vaknin reaffirms that Egypt needs peace and commercial ties with Israel. In addition, Ateya al-Wayishi, Egyptian author, declares that the revolution may have restricted impact on Israel-Egypt relations (K. A. Khidhir, personal communication, November 28, 2011). However, he expects that the treaty will be amended, in order to secure more interests for Egypt.

In addition to these perspectives, Ramadan (2011a) believes that neither the United States nor Europe, not to mention Israel, will easily allow the Egyptian people to make their dream of democracy and freedom come true. The undergoing reform process will be monitored by the United States agencies in coordination with the Egyptian army, which is the essential player and has crucial role of mediator.


The Arab Spring has reshaped the political, institutional and international relations of the Middle East. Egypt is entirely affected by Arab Spring that revolution has uprooted Mubarak’s regime, and Islamists came to power. Muslim Brotherhood, the most influential political entity, has formed the Freedom and Justice Party that will be guided by the organization. The party has popularity and won majority of votes in recent elections. These recent political changes have made Israel anxious. Israeli government is concerned about their Peace Treaty with former Egyptian government. Israel would like to maintain the treaty, but Egyptian political parties; presidency candidates and public opinion have a different perspective on this treaty. The essay has discussed these changes and argued what is expected to come.


Abadi, J. (2006). Egypt’s Policy Towards Israel: The Impact of Foreign and Domestic Constraints. Israel Affairs, 12(1), 159–176.
Bad news for the Jewish state. (2011, February 5). The Economist, pp. 32-33.
Berman, I (2011). Jittery in Jerusalem. The American Spectator, 62-64.
Bernstein, J. (2011). Why Israel looks on in fear. New Statesman, 28.
Chick, K. (2011a). Muslim Brotherhood officially enters Egyptian politics. Christian Science Monitor.
Chick, K. (2011b). Cairo Israeli embassy attack: New realities for Israel-Egypt relations. Christian Science Monitor.
Fawcett, L. (2009). Introduction: The Middle East and International Relations. In Fawcett, L. (Ed.), International Relations of the Middle East (pp.1-17). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Feeling the heat of isolation (2011). Economist, 400(8751).
Ephron, D. (2011). Egypt’s Rising Power Player. Newsweek, 158(3).
Ghosh, B. (2011). The Rise of Moderate Islam. Time, 178(4).
Halliday, F. (2005). The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hinnebusch, R. (2002). Introduction: The Analytical Framework. In Hinnebusch, R. & Ehteshami, A. (Eds.), The Foreign Policies of Middle East States (pp. 1-27). Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Hinnebusch, R. (2003). The International Politics of the Middle East. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Johnson, I. (2011). Europe's Underestimated Islamists. Middle East Quarterly, 18(4).
Marshall, R. (2011). In the New Middle East, the Bill Comes Due for Israel's Intransigence. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 30(8).
Mitnick, J. (2011a). An anxious Israel watches neighboring Egypt unravel. Christian Science Monitor.
Mitnick, J. (2011b). Israel-Egypt trade links may help limit any rupture in ties. Christian Science Monitor.
Muslim Brotherhood figure disdained U.S. morality. (2011). Christian Century, 14.
Ramadan, R. (2011a). Democratic Turkey Is the Template for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 30(3).
Ramadan, T. (2011b). Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is a democratic partner, not Islamist threat. Christian Science Monitor.
Rubin, B. (Ed.). (2010). The Muslim Brotherhood: the Organization and Policies of a Global Islamist Movement. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Salih, M. A. Mohamed (Ed.). (2009). Interpreting Islamic Political Parties. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Sasley, Brent E. (2011). Studying Middle Eastern International Relations through International Relations Theory. Ortadoğu Etütleri, 2(2), 9-32.
Seale, P. (2011). The Future of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 30(3).
Spencer, R. (2011a). By Coddling Muslim Brotherhood, West Courts Own Destruction. Human Events, 16, 602.
Spencer, R. (2011b). Egypt's 'Arab Spring' Charges Toward War with Israel. Human Events, 17, 778.
Trager, E. (2011). The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood. Foreign Affairs, 90 (5).
Vaknin, Sam (interview with the author), Global Politician, November 30, 2011
What's the truth about the Muslim Brotherhood? (February 2011). USA Today, Section: News, Pg. 09a.
Who are the Brotherhood? (2011). The Middle East,20-21.

Additional Sources

Al-Awadi, H. (2004). In Pursuit of Legitmacy: The Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak, 1982-2000. London and New York: Tauris Academic Studies.
Al-Hudaibi, Muhammad M. (2001). The Principles of Politics in Islam. Islamic Inc. Publishing & Distribution.
Blanche, E. (2011) For Israel, a nightmare scenario. The Middle East, 22-23.
Eldar, D. (2003). Egypt and Israel: A Reversible Peace. Middle East Quarterly, 57-65.
Glain, S. (2011). Fault Lines in the Muslim Brotherhood. The Nation, 22-25.
Tzabag, S. (2007).The End of the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt: Continuity versus Change in Israeli Positions on the Cease-Fire Issue. Israel Affairs, 13(1), 141–163.

*Koshan Ali Khidhir (Zamanee) is a journalist, blogger, and student at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler. He has written articles for Global Politician, American Chronicle, Middle East Online, Mideast Youth and others. His blog can be read at:

This article has been published on Global Politician:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Journalists encourage Kurdish leaders to use Facebook

Koshan Ali Khidhir*

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is making progress in various areas; media and technology have wide popularity, especially during elections or problematic periods. This report considers how Facebook and other social media networks have changed the relations between Kurdish citizens and their leaders. To what extent has Facebook become a campaigning channel for politicians? How far have these networks become a source of information for journalists?
According to chekfacebook, 1,174,300 Iraqis have Facebook accounts (out of a global total of 800 million users). 73.3 % of Iraqi Facebook users are male and 26.7%, or 312,180, are female. This means that Facebook has not become the main media in the region, but it has great popularity among the young: 40.4% of users are aged 18-24 and 31.6% are aged 25-34.
There are different opinions about the use of Facebook and other social media networks. IT student Andam Omer thinks that most Facebook subscribers lack sufficient knowledge about the platform. They are just using it for entertainment, says Andam, even though many of them are concerned about other matters such as politics and governmental issues.
There are still few Kurdish politicians using Facebook. Bilal Saed, journalist, has written a report on the impact of Facebook on Kurdish politics. According to his research, only 22 out of 111 members of the Kurdistan Parliament use Facebook.
Nechirvan Barzani, deputy head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, was the first prominent Kurdish politician to use Facebook, followed by Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, Salahaddin Bahaadin, Secretary-General of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, and Masrour Barzani, head of the Parastin intelligence agency – according to Bilal Saed’s report. He said he could find exclusive pictures and videos on the politicians’ Facebook accounts that he couldn’t get anywhere else.
However, journalist Mohammed Eli Zalla believes that social media in the Kurdistan Region has not yet become sufficiently popular and so politicians don’t see it as an essential way to spread their messages. Facebook has not become a way for politicians to interact with the whole of society because it is still restricted to elites or well-educated people. Facebook interaction does not and will not replace more personal interaction, Mohammed adds.
Shwan Medihat, another journalist, uses Facebook as one of his sources for news. Facebook news pages will encourage journalists to research for more information, he says.
Bahra Sediq is one of the female Kurdish journalists using Facebook. She has an optimistic view about relations between politicians and journalists via Facebook and other social media networks. It is easier and practical to contact politicians by Facebook, she says.
Akam Asos, a journalist, has the same perspective. It was always difficult to contact and meet with politicians, even parliamentarians, but Facebook has made this more possible.
In addition, Shwan Mohammed states that Facebook can enable politicians to publish their perspectives, ideas, videos and pictures more easily: it is progress from traditional interaction to the modern one. Facebook and social media could help change the public’s perception of politicians who should therefore open accounts to broaden their impact on society.
Shwan says that there are some high-ranking politicians who avoid talking to the media – so why  would they want to use Facebook? He also mentioned that politicians’ Facebook pages are administrated by others and not themselves.
Andam has a slightly different view, saying there are few politicians on Facebook and so it has not yet become a mainstream way for interaction between politicians and citizens. However, there are some politicians who use Facebook to show their sympathy towards citizens and criticize corruption, he says.
Journalists are encouraging politicians to use Facebook more. Bahra suggests that politicians should be more concerned about using these new technologies and spending more time on Facebook to have more contact and popularity with journalists and society.

*Koshan A. Khidhir is a  journalist, blogger, and undergraduate student in Political Science and International Relations at University of Kurdistan-Hawler (UKH):  

This article has been published on Kurdistan Tribune:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Kurdish Sun Rises

Koshan Ali Khidhir*

Iraq's Kurdistan Region is going from isolation to front and center in the recent crisis in Iraq.

In the recent political crisis facing Maliki's government in Iraq, it seems the calm hand of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is all that is keeping the tension from escalating into all out conflict. Is this the moment the KRG has been waiting all along for?

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani hosts Iraqi Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashemi while he evades an arrest warrant issued in Baghdad.

The current turmoil engulfing the government of Iraq has put on full display the political might and critical influence of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq. Frequently shying away from the politics of Baghdad they have in recent days has taken a more proactive, and some would say partisan role, in attempting to resolve and unify the feuding national political blocs while still maintaining autonomy.

The KRG has been pressing for a diplomatic solution to the recent crisis between the D’awa party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the al-Iraqiya party of Ayad Allawi, which is currently locked in a boycott of parliament. Since the final days of the United States troop withdrawal, the two major parties have been trading insults and accusations. The tension culminated with an arrest warrant charging the vice-president, and al-Iraqiya party member, Tariq al-Hashemi, with acts of terrorism against political adversaries, and grew more desperate when 16 explosions ripped through Baghdad this week in one of the deadliest and more orchestrated attacks of the year.

While the central government seems to be dissolving, and a rift threatening to inflame sectarian and regional alliances is rearing its head once more in Iraq, the stable hand of the Kurdistan Regional Government seems to be siding with the al-Iraqiya camp and contributing to the national crisis. Al-Hashemi has found political allies and safehaven in the north, where he has fled.

Recent statements by KRG officials are telling in that they refute the directives from the central government in Baghdad and even balk at the institutions of the Maliki government. The Kurdistan Regional President, Massoud Barzani, has refused Maliki’s demands to hand over al-Hashemi and declared, “there is no way we would hand over al-Hashemi to Baghdad. He is our guest.” Fayaq Tofiq, deputy minister of the Interior in the KRG, added more fuel to the political fire when he stated that the KRG would not obey decisions of Iraqi courts unless a specific ruling is affirmed by KRG courts.

Barzani affirmed that Iraqis and Kurds “must not under estimate or tolerate terrorism,” but he also added, “security forces should not be used for political objectives,” a statement which seems to be directed to the Mailki government and the D’awa party.

The State of Law Coalition in the Iraqi Council of Representatives (COR) and other Sh’ia groups are frustrated by the Kurdish position. Ehsan Awadi, a leader in the coalition, equated the reluctance of the KRG to hand over al-Hashemi to a “crime,” demanding that “al-Hashemi should stand trial in Baghdad.” Overall the political tenor in Iraq seems to have reached a peak, and now that Kurdistan appears to be playing partisan politics, a rift could plunge Iraq into talk of federalism again.

Some Kurdish political analysts are also dissatisfied with the region’s involvement, suggesting that Kurdistan should maintain neutrality in the political conflict. Arif Qurbani, a political analyst in Sulymania, said “we (Kurds) should monitor the situation in Iraq, instead of direct involvement or intervention, and we have to strive to obtain our demands during chaotic situations.”

Shwan Mohammed Taha, Kurdish MP in the COR’s Security and Defense Committee said the premonition of Kurdish leaders has come true and that, “tensions between Iraqis will grow more in the aftermath of American withdrawal.” Taha estimates that “if there were no Kurds, the situation of Iraq would worsen.” Therefore, Kurd should play its role “in balancing the situation,” Taha added.

Some political parties have suggested dissolving the current Iraqi government and forming a new government based on a majority. Barzani in his statement called for “an urgent national conference to avoid a collapse of the political process.” It is expected that the KRG will continue to play a central role in any political reconciliation, which may gain them some leverage in the future when issues like the region’s budget, oil revenue, Kirkuk and disputed areas are contested at the national level.

Koshan Ali Khidhir is a journalist, blogger, and student at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler. He has written articles for Global Politician, American Chronicle, Middle East Online, Mideast Youth and others. His blog can be read at:

This article has been published on The Majalla, the leading Arab magazine:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Erdogan’s Dersim Apology Highly Welcomed by the Kurdistan Region

Koshan Ali Khidhir*

Photo: Today's Zaman

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered an apology for the killings of 13.806 in the southeastern town of Dersim, Tunceli, between 1936 and 1939. The apology came after quarrel or a war of words between Erdogan and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), according to Today’s Zaman.
The apology has been viewed in diverse perspectives. This article is affected by perspective of officials in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which I have seen in their official statements.
Most of the officials in the Kurdistan Region have seen this apology as rewriting Kurdish history and restructuring Kurdish issue in Turkey within a new framework, so they highly welcomed this initiative. It is not only about the historical incident. It is the political ones, at this time, that some of the points will be elaborated in this article.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK party) and Turkish Prime Minister have been working on a variety of initiatives that sustain its power in the country. As well as, he cuts off roots of conservatives and fascism. That will secure the future of the party and implementation of its visions.
Turkish Premier and his party are working on resolving Kurdish issue in the country, but they are doing it step by step. The apology will not be the final step, and it was not the first one, but it is one of the most radical and rooted one. Meanwhile, premier apologizes for a historical incident, which means they are restructuring not just the future, but also their history. While he apologizes on behalf of other and former governments, it means he sees himself responsible for the country not just for the current government. That is the radical points about this apology.
AK Party tries to avoid excluding different ethnics to have their rights within the Turkish state system. Kurds have been deprived from their substantial rights; therefore, the party could gain enormous support, if they protect the rights of Kurds. AK party has good relations with political parties in Kurdistan Region, especially with Kurdistan Islamic Union, and the two ruling parties Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Kurdistan Democratic Party. That will be helpful for the party to have an indirect impact on Kurdish actors in Northern Iraq, and then they affect Kurds in Turkey.
The Kurdistan Region has economic ties and trade, which reaches up to 6$ billion dollars yearly. It is increasing continuously. Turkish Airline has formally opened by the Premier this year. There are Turkish companies, banks, private schools and even universities. This has expanded cultural, economic, and social interaction between Turkey-Kurdistan Region. In the last year, thousands of youths in the region have been travelled to Turkey to spend their holiday. That means Turkey-Kurdistan Region has friendly relations. Regarding future progress towards Kurdish issue in the country, I have to say that Turkey need to take this cooperation ties into considerations.
There is another significant point regarding the apology by Turkish premier, which he apologized in a right time. Turkey does not have any elections in coming weeks or months. It shows the party has not done it for the sake of votes. On the other hand, there are revolutions outside Turkey, even in its neighbor countries, it means that Erdogan reaffirms his support for Kurdish issue, while there is instability in the region, and suppressed ethnics are struggling for their rights. He has done it to claim indirectly that he is going to implement his promises and to change the atmosphere for the rights of different ethnics in Turkey. In addition, it uncovers the Erdogan’s methodology to resolve Kurdish issue, in peaceful means, instead of militarizing the issue. This apology has questions the position of military in Turkish politics again.
For ordinary people in Northern Iraq and in Turkey, Turkish official apology for this incident suggests that the ruling party wants to alter government’s standpoint toward Kurdish issue. This would be seen as a starting point for rewriting the new constitution in Turkey, which secures equal rights for different ethnics in Turkey.
It is expected for premier and AK party to have more initiatives towards the Kurdish Issue in Turkey, especially constituting their fundamental rights within the constitution. If events going on in this way, it will not be just expectations, it will also become reality.

*Koshan Ali Khidhir is a Journalist, Blogger, and Senior Undergraduate Student in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler. 

This article has been published on

Middle East Online: 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Van Catastrophe Reaffirms Turkey-Northern Iraq Relations

Koshan Ali Khidhir

Photo: Today's Zaman

“We are so sorry for what is happening in Van” “Donate a Penny, Safe the life of one person,” these quotations are the words of Kurds from Northern Iraq to show their sympathy to their neighbor city, Van, endangered because of series earthquakes.
In the last few weeks, while I have been travelling from one city, district and village to the other ones in Northern Iraq, when I have been watching and reading Kurdish newspapers, magazines, websites and televisions, the main focus is about Van. There are lots of tents in different districts and cities that call for a donation for Van and supporting its displaced people.
This would be a starting point for another way of looking relations between Turkey and Northern Iraq. The essential dimensions about this relation could be summarized in some points? It is rooted in the society, between different members in Turkey and Northern Iraq. It refutes all perspectives and methods that show relations as critical and problematic.
This would be sufficient evidence to the restricted conflict between a group of so called a supporter of Kurdish issue (PKK) and Turkish state. These events uncovered that the conflict is not rooted in the society and has not been structured within Kurds in Northern Iraq. It was and it is just a political struggle of this group to achieve external and internal goals. While Kurds in Northern Iraq supported Van, they evidently declared their support a method for resolving Kurdish question in Turkey, which is resolving this issue through peaceful means.
I have talked with many scholars in this region, they, mostly interested in resolving Kurdish issue in Turkey through a peaceful process. The Kurdish street in the region also has suffered from conflicts between PKK and Turkish state over borders; therefore, they would rather the political resolution for Kurdish issue than military operations.
Kurds in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Northern Iraq, are mostly benefited from their peaceful and stable region to experience their governance. Therefore, any conflict will endanger their prosperity and the future of this region. Thus, leaders of the region are concerning about improving their relations with Turkish government in different areas of politics, culture and business.
Kurdish leaders, Jalal Talabani, Iraqi President, Massoud Barzani, President of the Region, Barham Salih, current prime minister of the region Nechirvan Barzani, former prime minister of the region’s government, and other high ranked officials are continuously held meetings with Kurdish political parties to convince them on resolution for Kurdish issue in peaceful means. They have also worked to mediate between Kurdish parties, mostly their effective leaders, and Turkish elites. A few days ago Talabani and Salih met some MPs from pro-Kurdish Democratic and Peace Party (BDP), that would be a recent example for their efforts. According to the Kurdish news agencies, the meeting is mostly concerned about resolving Kurdish issue in Turkey through dialogue and peaceful means.
Van has uncovered the roots of the issues. While some Kurdish leaders, who are sincerely striving for Kurdish issue were in meeting with Talabani, but others were involved with hijacking. Real Kurds are those who have donated their money and clothes to other civilians in Turkey, but others are those who thinking about having more attacks and bloodshed. These groups are restricted their goals. Therefore, they will not gain future hearts and political achievements. These are just playing with time and struggling to survive.
I hope, as a Kurd in Northern Iraq, to have a peaceful process of resolving Kurdish issue in Turkey, which has started from AK Party’s reforms and initiatives. Catastrophe like Van would become new page for humanitarian cooperation, if we view these events in a different way.

The author is a Journalist, Blogger, and Undergraduate Student in Political Science and International Relations at University of Kurdistan-Hawler.

This article has been published on

Middle East On line: 
Mideast Youth:

Kurdistan Tribune:

Kurd Net

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

REVIEW of Kenneth Campbell's "A Tale of Two Quagmires: Iraq, Vietnam, and the Hard Lessons of War"

Koshan Ali Khidhir (Zamanee)

Kenneth J. Campbell, A Tale of Two Quagmires: Iraq, Vietnam, and the Hard Lessons of War, United States: Paradigm Publishers, 2007; 136 pp; ISBN: 978-1-59451-352-7.

Kenneth Campbell is an associated Professor of Political Science and International Relations and Director of the International Relations Program at the University of Delaware. He served with the US Marines in Vietnam and later joined the Vietnam Veterans against the War.

Whether Iraq is another Vietnam or not, is the first question that the author begins with. He shares different perspectives of scholars regarding the similarities and dissimilarities between Vietnam and Iraq. Some scholars affirm that Iraq, similar to Vietnam, was becoming another quagmire for the US that ultimately has to pull out in humiliation defeat. However, other scholars assert that Iraq, unlike Vietnam, US forces will eventually triumph over Iraq. The author claims that Iraq and Vietnam are exactly alike -on the strategic and political level- it was another quagmire for the US As the author mentioned quagmires “are built upon the quicksand of deception, deception about purpose, progress, methods, and exit.” (p. 9)

In this book, the author, who served in the Vietnam War for thirteen months and studied the war for thirty years, shed light on difficulties and torments of the War. Who suffered heatstroke, dysentery, malaria, trench foot, and jungle rot, but while they were fighting they forget about everything and they were fighting for their lives. Counting bodies, was the main strategy of military, and high enemy body counts made their superiors to be happy, in contrast low or no body count made them to be unhappy. As the war burden and soldiers experienced difficult situations, they started to “hate the war” and they just want to go home “alive” (p. 34). The author was to angry about the Vietnam debacle and started to say “I could not live with the lies any longer.” He affirms “Why we were in Vietnam”, the “progress” of the U.S forces and the way they treated the Vietnamese “was a lie.” (p. 37)

In Chapters three and four, the author focuses on the Vietnam War and its lessons. The author is angry about effects of the Vietnam War in the US The author declares that the War divided the US bitterly and deeply, failed two presidents and polarized Congress and paralyzed the courts. The author claims that US political and military leaders deceived the nation about justification of the war. As he uncovers that from 1964 to the mid of 1965s the US wanted Vietnamese military leaders to be capable enough to govern Vietnam under Washington’s guidance. Failing this, the US decided to take direct control over the war. Then, “the Johnson administration manufactured the Gulf Tokin incidents” (p. 45) in order to rally American people to support direct US military intervention in Vietnam. These facts were not officially confessed until thirty years later (p. 45). Moreover, the methods of fighting by the US military were essentially illegal and immoral. In order to obtain intelligence, they were torturing prisoners and detainees, the use of “fists, knives, pistols, and rifle buttes during the interrogation of Viet Cong suspect” (p 49). The author has no doubt that the Vietnam War was not about helping Vietnamese. The US political and military leaders were mainly concerned about beating other super power, the Soviet Union.

The lessons of Vietnam War according to the author classified into five schools of thought, Conservative, Liberal, Far Left, Far Right, and the Military. The Conservative school suggests that the main lesson from Vietnam debacle should be learned was the necessity of realizing the power limits of any nation, even superpowers like the US, to control the course of world event. For the Liberal School of thought, the principal lesson was the long-lasting significance of law, democracy, morality, and personal responsibility. The Far Left school which offers perhaps the most important lesson to be learned, states that poor people, if united, will never defeated by greedy capitalists. The Far Right School suggests that the US must ignore international legal and moral restrictions and use all superior US military power. Finally, the Military School advised US military and civilian leaders never to forget the strategic relationship between military force and domestic political support in initiating, maintaining, and winning a distant, gory war. The author also, mentions two other lessons by scholars, policy analysts, and policy makers. They declared the war with having uncertain purpose decreases nation’s public support as causalities among its troops rise. Public opinion is, also, another essential character, if the public opinion falls, other vital characters in the US political system being falling as well.

The last two chapters are dedicated to the Iraq War. The author declares that Bush administration’s War on Iraq has become another “Vietnam-like quagmire.” Bush’s war in Iraq, he explains, is “a war of choice, not necessity” (p. 73). Therefore, it is illegal and immoral war. Bush had unsound purpose for the Iraq War. Therefore, it is expected that the war certainly produced failed tactics and strategy for fighting the war. The leaders of the war would do their best to reform strategy and tactics, but it will still be a failed war. The author affirms that Iraq War had nothing to do with terrorism. He claims that 9/11 was simply convenient excuse, for neoconservatives, to wage the Iraq War. They desired “for years before 9/11 to invade and conquer Iraq as a prelude “transforming” the entire Middle East into a solidly pro-US, pro-Israel region” (p. 75). Therefore, the reliable evidence is to be found in the writings of scholars, analysts or in the words of neoconservatives. The first attempt by neoconservatives to dominate over the world was in 1992, during the George H. W. Bush Administration. Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, ordered Neocon Paul Wolfowitz and Zalmay Khalilzad, to prepare a draft “Defense Planning Guide” that clearly aimed to prevent the rise of any challengers to US global hegemony in any region of the world. But Bush rejected the plan (p. 77). During the Clinton administration years, neoconservatives continued with their plan. Once they were back to power with the George W. Bush administration, they tried to implement their plan to get rid of Saddam Hussein Regime. The author affirmed that “Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz argued for war against Iraq four days after 9/11 at an emergency meeting”; Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz “asserted that there was 10 to 15% chance that Saddam was behind the attack on 9/11” (p. 80).
After the essential victorious march in Baghdad in 2003, then the Bush Administration tried to convince the public opinion of the US that Saddam regime was defeated and Iraqi resistance was just its last throes. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others in the Administration called Iraqi resistance fighters as terrorists, who were violently fighting US forces. During 2006-2007 as the war rose and US causalities risen, public support for the war declined. Similarly to the Vietnam War, US forces tutored detainees and intentionally killing unarmed Iraqi civilians. For instance “the Bush administration claimed that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were carried out by just a “few bad apples” in the Army” (p.86). But the investigation of Seymour Hersh, a journalist that published his investigation on New Yorker Magazine Web site, revealed that US torture was systematically applied in Iraq, Afghanistan, in Cuba, and in secret interrogation centers around the world (p.86). The sexual abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib can be labeled as a greatest shame to be done by the US Army. Some military analysts observed that the US troops treatment of their enemy in Iraq was fault because they were confused about who were their enemy was strives a spectacular charge as the US troops went through in the Vietnam War.

The author indicates that lessons of Vietnam debacle are reaffirmed in Iraq War. Firstly, if the political purpose of a war contradicts the nation’s potential values, the nation will not be patient about it for a long time. On the other hand, the US should be concerned about the relevance of, and complications of, its actions on international law. Domestically, the importance of protecting US constitutional law, and the significance of multilateralism in foreign policy are viewed to be further crucial issues.

Throughout the basic, the author holds pessimistic view of the Iraq and Vietnam Wars. He accuses the US political military leaders of deceiving the US public regarding reasons of these two wars and the ‘progress’ or ‘success’ they achieved. There is no doubt that some “strategic and political” antecedents of these wars are similar, but the US causalities in Vietnam War were more than ten times that of Iraq. The author provides solid data about Saddam’s regime not having relation with terrorist groups, but he did not shed light on the security situation after the Iraq war, which become flooded of host of terrorist organizations. He did not mention the decision of dissolving Iraqi Army by Paul Bremer, the top US civilian administrator in Iraq, that caused 500,000 man army to be jobless then become terrorists. The author did not mention the interference of neighboring countries in Iraqi politics by supporting Shiite and Sunni entities, which spoiled Iraqi political and security situation. While the author mentions that Iraqi government has been created by the US, he did not mention progress regarding holding elections and the formation of Iraqi government. Thus, it can be said that the author exaggerates when he demonstrates the situation of the US Army in Iraq.

This article has been published on

Global Politician:


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Street that divides two centuries!

By: Koshan A. Khidhir

This picture and video story report, is taken from Arbil province. These pictures are showing different sides from Arbil city, but they have some similarities. The similarity here is that these streets are dividing two centuries, and two eras. One of them is industrialization era, and the second one is the era of traditionalism.

“There are many people in Arbil that they have high buildings, but we have just this small house, we are happy. It does not matter how is that, “How we are” is more important” Hiwa, a poor young in these houses

These young said that “every day we are coming to here to sell and by credit cards for mobile, on this ground, to be simple is great”.            

This man who sells lights in front of this high building says “Your question is good, there is no doubt Wallahi there is inequality in Arbil. I cannot buy a small shop, but others have these high buildings”.

Here is a video of a student, He talks about inequality in Kurdistan, especially in Arbil. Then he says, he cannot even talk like reach people’s sons, because they have unequal opportunity for learning.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blogi farmi Koshan Ali Zamanee

Slawtan lebet. Am bloga ba farmi babatakani koshan ali tedablaw dakretawa.