Flags of Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, and Gorran fly near the Change Movement's headquarters in Sulaimani. Photo: Rudaw TV
by Abdullah Reshawi
After fraud allegations of May 12 election and after the Change Movement left the government on October 12, the idea to arm the movement emerged inside and outside the party organs. But, is this a good idea or an emotional and ill-thought reaction?
Arming Gorran or any other unarmed parties in the Kurdistan Region, including the KDP and PUK is unwise. Moreover, we should think about ways to force these two parties to lay down their weapons. Moreover, the idea of arming other parties gives legitimacy to the armed status of the KDP and PUK.
Gorran and other political parties instead should pursue legal, constitutional, and parliamentary measures to force the KDP and PUK to lay down their guns. The electoral body should make it conditional that only unarmed parties are eligible to participate in elections.
The flaw of arming Gorran is that it reduces the concept of ‘force’ to ‘guns’ — force can be achieved without guns.
Developing thousands of dedicated and volunteering democratic cadres is one way to give power to any political party. This area, Gorran and other parties should explore, but history shows in many cases civilians overpower and prevail over armed forces. In modern history, armed revolutionaries were eventually forced to lay down their weapons in order to continue.
Another drawback of the idea of armament is that the purpose of a political party fundamentally changes. If a civilian party aims to enforce democratic and civilian principles in the country, by arming itself, the party would then be concerned solely with working to protect and maintain itself.
For example, a party like Gorran should make compromises to enforce real democratic principles, rather than working to maintain the party as an objective. Perhaps Gorran could protect itself if it is armed, but this would be at the expense of the democratic principles they have espoused.
We should ask why Gorran was expelled from the government. It wasn’t only because they didn’t back down on their demands to the dominant party. The reason why there wasn’t civil war when Gorran was uncompromising was because it wasn’t armed.
Gorran was adamant in its position and didn’t compromise on the Kurdistan Region’s presidential law because the party was not armed. If Gorran was armed at the time, reaching an agreement or waging an internal war would have been the party’s only choices, just like the PUK, which has strategic agreements with the KDP because both parties are armed.
Those who uphold the idea of arming unarmed parties in order to protect democratic principles argue that by being armed, these parties can prevent voting fraud, injustices, and ensure protestors are not beaten when they take to the streets.
This is easier said than done and difficult. In reality it ends purely civilian endeavors, will lead to internal war, and restricts space for civilian endeavors. Becoming an armed party would only allow Gorran’s opposition to criticize the very values it was founded upon and has democratically struggled against.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.