The Corner

A Poem to Die For

Aryan Baban, a Kurdish correspondent, has translated the satirical poem by Sardasht Osman, a young student and journalist, the publication of which apparently led the Iraqi Kurdish government to kill him.  I have translated it for grammar only.  For anyone that wants to know what it takes for a politician in Iraqi Kurdistan–which calls itself secure and democratic–to order your death, here it goes:

I am in love with the daughter of [Iraqi Kurdistan president] Masud Barzani, the man who appears here and there and claims he is my president. I would like him to be my father-in-law and also I would like to be a brother-in-law with [former Prime Minister] Nechirvan Barzani.

If I become Masud Barzani’s son-in-law, we would spend our honeymoon in Paris and also we would visit our uncle’s mansion in America. I would move my house from one of the poorest areas in Erbil to Sari Rash [Barzani’s palace complex] where it would be protected by American guard dogs and Israeli bodyguards.

I would make my father become the Minister of Peshmerga [the Kurdish militia].  He had been Peshmarga in September revolution, but he now has no pension because he is no longer a member of Kurdistan Democratic Party.

I would make my unlucky baby brother, who recently finished university but is now unemployed and looking to leave Kurdistan, chief of my special forces.

My sister who has been too embarrassed to go to the bazaar to shop, could drive all the expensive cars just as Barzani’s daughters do.

For my mother, who is diabetic and has high blood pressure and heart problems but who is not able to afford treatment outside Kurdistan, I would hire a couple Italian doctors to treat her in the comfort of her own house.

For my uncles, I would open few offices and departments and they, along with all my nieces and nephews would become high generals, officers, and commanders.

All my friends said Saro, let it go and give it up for otherwise you will get yourself killed.  The family of Mulla Mustafa Barzani [Masud Barzani’s father] can kill anyone they want, and they surely will.

I told them I did not commit blasphemy and I swear to the dagger of [Masud’s late brother] Mustafa Idris Barzani that my father had spent 3 nights with him on the same mountain [during the fight against Saddam] and so why not say those things? Masud Barzani claimed himself that he is a president, and I would ask him how may time has he visited Erbil and Sulaymani in the last 18 years?

My problem is this man, Masud Barzani, is so tribal that so arrogant that he does not recognize anybody from even the other side of Sari Rash. With a few clicks, I can out more about any leaders’ wives in the world but I have no idea who my mother-in-law would be and what she looks like.

I have no idea who I should take with me to ask Masud Barzani to give me his blessing to marry his daughter. From the beginning, I thought I should take with me few religious figures, some respectful old men and some old peshmerga, but one of my journalist friends told me that I should find some Saddam collaborators and those who participated in the Anfal operation [ethnic cleansing in the late 1980s] with Saddam because they are all around Masud now and he likes them. Another friend suggested that I should go to one of news conference of Nechirvan Barzani and make friends with him and ask him to do me a favor. However, if he doesn’t help, then I can ask Dashne [a Kurdish singer] because she meets them frequently and might help out.

I guess for the Barzanis (and Talabanis), George Orwell’s maxim still holds true: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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