Mullah Barzani’s village grave, which is visited by thousands of people every year, is being turned into a huge monument complex through a $20 million project comprising a mosque, a museum and a guesthouse
IRAQ - Milliyet
$10 billion operation for Turkish businessmen
Having completed a ten day tour of Northern Iraq through the cities of Kirkuk, Sulaimaniya, Arbil, Dohuk and Zakho, I am returning on the 10th day. The Habur customs buildings look brand new, like modern airports, but if you ask customs officials, the infrastructures were not constructed well; in fact, the archives have been flooded. The times of 30-day waits at the border are over, and it only takes us three hours to get across. Fuel-oil tankers present customs with invoices bearing an Iraq-Baghdad stamp from the Iraq National Petroleum Company SOMO.
When the fuel-oiltrade was voluminous, 5,000 TIRs passed through daily. That figure has now dropped to 300.
One of two taxi lines at the Habur exit goes to Silopi; the other goes to Diyarbakır, with a charge of 150 dollars. We head towards Diyarbakır. Our driver takes our passports and makes all the exit arrangements. We chat on the road and learn that this young man is a father of six. “When did you make this many children?” I ask. “I don't know,” he replies, “my father made me marryat the age of 14.” In 1994 the PKK sent a letter to every household in Silopi that had two boys saying, “You have to send one to the Turkish Armed Forces and one to the mountains (PKK).” The letter arrived to the driver's father too, and he married off his son to save him.
The hearts of mothers in Southeastern Turkey are seared in this manner: one son becomes a martyr and the other a mountain terrorist. Who wrote this fate, and who will change it?
I am sitting at my desk, and my telephone rings. On the other end is Şerafettin Elçi, who entered Parliament as a Justice Party representative from Mardin, and who served as Minister of Public Works during the Ecevit administration. Now he is the leader of the Participatory Democracy Party. Referring to the series headline, “ $10 billion operation,” Elçi draws attention to “reconciliation.” On the other hand, he points out that Barzani's controversial statement that caused such a furore was made in the Al Hayat newspaper in February, but only made “hot contact” in Turkey after March.
Referring to the information that “MHP members are investing” in northern Iraq, MHP General Secretary Cihan Paçacı criticizes those investing in Arbil saying, “No party organ is involved.”
Actually, there exists a language of life that is very different from the language of politics; I have tried to pass this on to you with this series.
A businessman from Iğdır is erecting Mullah Barzani's monument
Hasan Alagöz of Iğdır explains the investmentshe has made from Zakho to Arbil in areas tied to the Arbil government. “I went to Dohuk in 2003 for tourism purposes. A Pesmerge I met via a friend from Cizreli said, ‘do not lie or get involved in roguery and politics. If you listen, your path will be open."
Alagöz represents the “second wave of contractors from Turkey” that went to Arbil the week after Saddam was overthrown. Ferda Cemiloğlu, Renas Elçi and İlnur Çevik preceded him.
Hasan Alagöz became a partner to businessman Serbest Doski from Dohuk, founding his first company Dosko with a bid for a school that he won 3 years ago in Dohuk. The area contains the graves of Mullah Mustafa Barzani and his son İdris Barzani, who are buried in the village graveyard of the Barzan region where the President of the Kurdish administration, Massoud Barzani, lives. Dosko is turning the it into the “Barzani Memorial Center” or Barzani Memorial complex.
Alagöz has signed contracts worth $50 million in northern Iraq. Dosko's memorial project is worth around $20 million.
“We're going to develop together”
Alagöz introduces his comments saying “I was asked to lead the way for Turkish businessmen making investments here. We are generating net export revenues for Turkey with the work we do. All of the material used in our construction comes from Turkey. I have imported to the tune of $10 million.”
The common language of this region runs through the economy. It is as if everyone is speaking of one mind. The sentences, “It cannot happen without Turkey. We're going to develop together,” are oft repeated.
Working in Zakho near the Turkish border, Dosko has completed 5 schools and the restoration of a State guesthouse. They have handed over the 2,500 square-meter Tarin Restaurant to a businessman from Arbil, and the 800 square-meter guesthouse called the “audience-hall” to a Kurdish bureaucrat living in Paris.
Like a shrine
Alagöz's most refined project is a “special” one not yet made public: the Barzan memorial and complex. Alagöz says that 1 million people, including visitors from neighboring Iran and Turkey, visit the Barzani graves annually.
Hence, the memorial complex will include a mosque, a museum, an amphitheater and a guesthouse. The authorities that arranged the architectural competition for memorial chose the Belgian University's project. Alagöz says, “The project was born from my idea. Before I submitted this project I spent 9 out of my 20 day trip to Paris in museums.”
Alagöz entered the elections to run for mayor of Iğdır for HADEP in 1999 and SHP in 2004. Claiming that “false votes were cast” in the 2004 elections, Alagöz opened a case against a total of 5,300 voters, including 434 commissioned and non-commissioned officers. He took 1,500 cases to the European Human Rights Court. Alagöz appears to have abandoned politics in Arbil, after having set a record in Turkey with this unprecedented number of law-suits. He owns a generator in Iğdır, under the important brand name National, a piece of Turkey's industrial history.
“They wanted this generator for the Koç Museum. I am keeping it in Iğdır,” stated Alagöz, adding that his grandfather set up the first factory in the Southeast in 1945.
In addition to Alagöz, there are two high-level administrators, one from the Black Sea and the other from Aydınlı.
Mullah Mustafa Barzani died in the US
Mullah Mustafa Barzani was a “general” when the only “Kurdistan Republic” in history was announced in the Iranian city of Mahabad, with the support of the Soviet Union, on January 22, 1946. After the collapse of the eleven month old “state,” he went on to found the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 1946. Exiled for 12 years, Barzani returned to Baghdad in 1958 and fought in the mountains against the Baath army from 1961 to 1971. Taking refuge in Iran with the support of the United States, Mullah Barzani died in 1979 at a hospital in America, where was receiving treatment. The remains of Mullah Barzani lie in a grave made from village rocks, next to his son İdris Barzani's, who died from cancer immediately after his father's death. The “Barzani Memorial Center” is going to be built around the grave of the Barzanis. İdris Barzani is the father of the Kurdish administration's Prime Minister Nachirvan Barzani. Massoud Barzani became leader of the KDP after the death of his brother İdris.
The wealth of N. Iraq come from Dohuk
We pass Barzan villages and come to Dohuk 55 kilometers from Turkey. It is as if we have arrived at an Anatolian village. Brand names like Bellona, Aksa, Ülker, Şölen, Bingo, Hayat, Hukla, Arçelik, Vestel, Beko, and Pilsa are conspicuos in the marketplace.
It is now evening and we arrive at Serbest Diwaly Doski's house. Dohuk is the third largest city after Arbil and Sulaimaniya in the Kurdish region, and the houses of the wealthy are two-story villas. Doski's “audience-hall” is one of these magnificent buildings.
We enter the living room. I sit down in one of the crème-colored chairs lined up along the walls of the rectangular hall. Small tables stand in front of the chairs, and a gas stove stands in the middle. The room's only accessories are a television and a Vestel wall clock. The television is tuned to MMC, the music channel favored by many Kurds.
Zeerak T. Sait al Doski, President of the Dohuk Contractors Union, comes into the room. Following him are all the famous people with careers in Dohuk's state and private sectors.
Health check-ups in Vienna
Serbest Doski meets the others, reclining on a large couch with his legs crossed and dressed in a silk, hand-woven local costume. You would think he is the “Chieftain of 7 villages.” He is, in fact; he does agricultural work in Dohuk and is property-rich. However, he is educated and comes from Western culture. His dream was to enter the Istanbul University Law Faculty. When he missed that opportunity by a few points at the entrance exams, he studied engineering in Romania. He has his health check-ups in Vienna.
Dohuk Contractors Union President Sait Doski points out that Turks landed 60 percent of the contracts when bidding for a total of $300 million opened in Dohuk in 2007. There is a saying here: “Iraq's wealthiest come from Mosul; the Kurdish region's wealthiest come from Dohuk.”
We meet Sabah Muhi from Mosul at the Jiyan Hotel, where we are eating dinner. A businessman from Turkey operates this hotel, too. Having obtained Turkishcitizenship, Muhi holds two passports. In 2002 he set up an air-conditioned citrus fruit depot and packaging facility in Mersin, and he planted 500 dwarf apple seedlings he brought from Italy on 500 acres of land in Niğde, a $10 million investment. Setting aside trade and construction work, Muhi is active as the Sas Agriculture and Land companies' SM group.
Mehmet Kürk from Mersin is one of the businessmen coming to Dohuk from Turkey, and is involved in construction. Sait Aksoy from Batman is in the furniture business. It is obvious to me that the number of Turkish investors I will meet will increase, if time permits.
By the way, on the first day of this series I provided a list of Turkish investors who got work from the Arbil government. Starting off with the information passed on by local sources, who said, “This work was given to Kadri Ivegen at Mehdi Zana's suggestion,” I mentioned both names together. Ivegen sent a document taken from the Foreign Trade Under Secretariat, and says, “the $17 million job went to Aygen Construction; I am the coordinator of our family company; I set up a construction company in my daughter Berfin's name.” When Zana was asked about this by Tempo magazine, he replied, “They asked about Ivegen; I said he is an ‘honest man'.”
The PKK lives in the villages, not in caves on Kandil Mountain
In order to see the “Barzani Memorial Center” construction site, we are taking a 3-hour trip up the mountains past the villages in the Badian region where the Barzani clan lives, 80 kilometers from Turkey and 160 kilometers from Arbil.
This district has been described as “the other side of a PKK camp.” PKK fighters do not live in mountain crevices on Kandil. They have settled in the villages of Kandil and lead a settled life. When they prepare to infiltrate Turkey, they strap on their guns and head to the mountains.
As a result, the PKK are the people living in Barzani's Kandil. If the PKK take “action” in his towns, Barzani has them arrested and imprisoned. Barzani is trying to partner the fate of Kurds in Iraq to international capital and create a “safe” island. He is worried that granting permission to a Turkish military operation against the PKK will mean terror descending into his own region.
Hunting is forbidden in the Badinan region. No wild animal is killed. Valleys and canyons are covered in green. I stop in one of the Barzan clan villages; we come upon a sign that says “Love Bridge”. It is a rug and carpet-weaving workshop. It was set up by a German NGO volunteer, Dr. Vilardo. Rainer Papel, also from Germany, is with him. Papel says that they distributed 5 electric wheelchairs to the handicapped in İzmir. They go wherever there is war and poverty – El Salvador, Sudan, Bosnia. They export silk/wool carpets, which sell for $300 per meter on the German market. Village girls weave carpets and earn money.
The women wear black
I notice that women wear head covers that are black, like their dresses. The colors of the men's head cloths are red and white, like Massoud Barzani's. The village raid conducted by Saddam's soldiers in 1982 resulted in theremoval of 8,000 male Barzan clan members from the village. It is said that Saddam's goal had been to get Massoud Barzani's brother, Sabır. After Saddam's overthrow it was understood that the 8,000 people taken from Barzan were shot near the Kuwait border.
The second generation of the Barzani family appears as investors. As a matter of fact, Sabır's son, Şirvan Barzani, is the owner of the Korek GSM Company influential in Arbil and Dohuk. Two major events in northern Iraq are referred to as genocides, or “Anfal” in history. One of these was the operation against the Barzan clan in 1982; the second was Saddam's operation throughout the Kurdish region between 1987-1988, which resulted in the death or disappearance of 182,000 people. This is why the women in the Barzan clan have been in mourning since 1982 and walk around dressed in black.