On the eve of an official visit to Kurdistan by President Khatami, a Sanandaj-based Kurdish journalist tells Radio Farda that the Islamic government’s ban on hiring Kurdish managers had divided people and government. The elites of the Iranian Kurdish community are immigrating to prosperous northern Iraq, where Kurdish administration has enjoyed relative autonomy since 1991 under the protection of allied forces. August 15, 2004 - “The government’s policy of not hiring Sunni Iranians in mid-level and high-level management positions, even in their own areas, has driven educated Iranian Kurds to northern Iraq, where they are hired in managerial and administrative positions by the local government and industries, Sanandaj-based journalist Masud Kurdpour tells Radio Farda’s broadcaster Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian, in advance of President Khatami’s visit on Tuesday to the area on Tuesday. President Khatami is expected to inaugurate a few development projects, and take part in a meeting of the provincial administrative council, but according to Kurdpour, the trip will only remind the Iranian Kurds of broken promises of participation and prosperity, which Khatami offered in an earlier trip to Kurdistan after he took office in 1996. The Islamic government had a policy of not hiring Iranian Sunnis in mid-level and high-level positions, Kurdpour adds, citing a directive issued by the Expediency Council before Khatami took office. “This caused the area to become politically polarized: on one side was the government and on the other side were the people.” President Khatami did not deliver on his promises of integration and participation, and there is still no Kurdish cabinet minister or deputy minister in his government, he adds. Little progress has been seen in Kurdistan, despite funds officially allocated, but we continue to see centers such as Tehran and Isfahan benefiting from development budgets, despite official statements promising decentralization, Kurdpour says. “Khatami promised political reforms, but now he is here to inaugurate a few economic projects, which he had not promised,” Kurdpour adds. “But in northern Iraq, which has been a safe zone since 1991, we are witnessing an economic growth, and many elites of the Iranian Kurdish community are getting jobs in the administration and management positions in Iraq,” he adds. in the fourth five-year economic development plan, “special attention” has been given to the development of Kurdistan, President Khatami said in a meeting in Tehran with Kurdish Majles MPs. “In the past few years, Iraq’s Kurdish areas have greatly developed with a annual budget of $1.8 billion, and Iraq’s federal form of government will have a lot of impact on the Iranian Kurdistan,” he adds. “Iranian Kurdistan needs fundamental work, not a few showy official visits. People have lost their trust in the government, especially after the last Majles elections,” he says, adding that in the Kurdish city of Mahabad, only 32 percent of the voters voted.