Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, March 21, 2011

Protests come to Iraqi Kurdistan

Though its not covered much in the press the way Tunisian, Egypt, and others were, there have also been some significant protests in Iraq. I've been talking to people who were at the first protest in Sulaimani (Kurdistan, Northern Iraq). Friends had posted videos of the early protests that were quite disturbing and several people had been killded. The protests have continued and I went down to the Suq (the center of the rallies) myself last Friday. Apparently there were a few violent clashes the first five or six days but then everyone sort of got control of their respective selves and its been peaceful since. One guy I know who has lived here for years told me that the protests is simply over jobs and money. Its a socialist system gone overboard here with everyone working in the government and only small private sector development, but the population is relatively large and every year, new students are graduated expecting to work in the government sector but the system is already bloated so much that there are only a limited number of jobs to be had.

Plus when you go to a government office the whole system is Kafkaesque, with 5 people doing what one person can do and half of the office always taking breaks to drink tea.

The demands of the protesters, according to my friend, are not about changing the fundamental system. Yes, they call for stopping the corruption but to replace it with what kind of system? No one seems to be articulating it. The protesters would be happy just to have a nice paying job where they don't have to work too hard within the exact same system.

This is what my friend says and he may be partially right but I don't think it is the full story. There are other demands. I know one is that the political parties should get ride of their private militias. And they don't want the political parties to be so tightly in control of the government. As I wrote to my father recently, we may have problems with our political system in the U.S., but imagine if in the elections there we had zero choice .... it was just the Republican party (of the Democratic Party) that ran everything and you couldn't even get a job in the government without being a party member or you couldn't open any kind of business without the party directly sharing in half of the profits. It would tend to put a damper on things even more, don'tcha think?