|Kurdish girl demonstrating|
by Muhammad Kurdistani
I’ve read an article published on this great blog under the title "Violence's Impact on Economy in Kurdistan Region". In many cases I agree with the writer and since it is an important topic, I thought that it might be useful to elaborate and look at it from slightly different angles.
It seems that the writer is generally speaking right. However as far as I have been following the situation, the source of violence comes not from the demonstrators. They are not violent at all. Except for throwing some stones which happens in demonstrations in the most advanced societies, it doesn't seem that the demonstrators have any violent motives nor do they have any interest to cause turmoil and trouble.
The violence actually comes from the authorities themselves, who treated and still treat the demonstrators with shear aggressiveness, and that for nothing.
Now the real impact of the demonstrations is actually in many cases positive.
What the demonstrators want is actually improving the situation. What the demonstrators want is actually stopping the authorities from stealing people's money and stuffing their pockets full of it.
Those demonstrators are aware that the authorities in KRG have done a lot of good things to the Kurdish people. They know that unlike Saddam who destroyed the country, the two ruling parties in Kurdistanhave contributed a lot to the security and welfare of Kurdistan.
However what the people want to say is that this is their responsibility and not a gift they might grant or not grant to their people.
The deal is not: "I take care of you, just let me stay forever in power and allow me to do anything I want to".
The deal is: "Vote for me, and as long as I have your votes I will take care of you, respect you, and serve you protecting your interest. Once you decide I'm not the right one for the job I will leave".
This is what the people want to say.
The argument of " The protests increase economic activities in the market because protesters buy more goods: sandwiches and bottles of water" is not of an argument for the positive economic impact of demonstrations, because when economists talk about good or bad impact on the market, it is definitively not meant the few shops that are around the place where the protest are being hold. They mean the overall economy of the country.
However, even if we follow that logic, the “economic” impact is there too. I’m sure that you have been following the events, and you have definitelynoticed that the demonstrators in the Liberation Square in Suli were consuming a lot of water, sandwiches, even tents and loudspeakers. And since they are going to stay there for a long time, they will even consume more of these goods. More than that, what they have been used to do is giving away sandwiches and water to the hundreds of police and intelligence agencies' people surrounding them who definitely outnumber the demonstrators at least three times.
So based on that logic, the demonstrators in Suli are actually fostering "economic growth" in the region.
Now, based on my logic their real economic impact is much deeper. Not through sandwiches and water, but through demanding for real change and serious actions against corruption they are actually demanding for real economic and social reform.
Everybody knows that the authorities in the region don't allow any foreign investor to do business in the region unless they pay "special premium taxes" to the ruling parties. These taxes vary from party to party, but in general they are illegal and not a civilized way to do business.
And it is these taxes that don't make people invest more in the KRG, despite the secure situation since more than 8 years. Believe me, the region has a huge potential for foreign investment wasn’t it for the corruption.
And it is the violent and uncivilized way of how the police treats the demonstrator which even makes the investors rethink doing business in Iraq, because most respectful companies prefer to do business in democratic places where a real free market and a robust legal infrastructure exists.
Bottom line: If protests harm in any way the economy, than it is not through the demonstrators but through the authorities who treat the demonstrators badly. This is on the short term.On the long term the protests will definitely have a positive impact on the economy and society because it is against corruption and nepotism which harm any economy and creates unrest in any society. Even if the protests don’t achieve all their immediate goals, official won’t feel free anymore to do anything they want.
*Muhammad Kurdisani is an expert on Kurdish politics and economy.