Kurdistan has always been, long before the country of Iraq ever existed, a completely different ethnic group than the Arabs and the Turks and even the Persians. There are about thirty million Kurds, equivalent to the population of Canada. They make up the largest ethnic group in existence without a recognized state of their own! Now a little history to consider then let’s put things in perspective. And keep in mind what Med said “KURDISTAN IS VOLUNTARILY BEING PART OF IRAQ THEY WERE NOT FORCED ACCORDING TO WHAT IS SAID IN THAT ARTICLE THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT REQUIRE THEM TO BE PART OF IRAQ”
During the nineteen-seventies the United States supported Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq in order to pressure Saddam Hussein during his negotiations with Iran. In the nineteen-eighties during the Iran/Iraq War, the Kurds were again caught up in the struggle between nations. During this period, Saddam destroyed over four thousand Kurdish villages, unleashing poisonous gas assaults against not only the people, but the forests and the wildlife as part of his ‘Anfal’ campaign to obliterate the Kurds and their way of life. More than one hundred eighty thousand young men, women, children and old people – they were all taken by military vehicles and transported into the middle and the south of Iraq and later they disappeared, only to be found after the Operation Iraqi Freedom in mass graves. I can remember when then Secretary of State, James Baker, flew into the mountains of Kurdistan and saw with his own eyes the Kurds’ desperate condition of starvation and freezing to death. It was during this time that the British, the United States and France responded by creating a safe haven for the Kurds with a ‘no fly’ zone north of the 36th parallel, and that was the break they needed for the Kurdish people to get a fresh start. Remember this was the time when they set up their own civil democratic structures, and developed their judiciary, police and security forces.
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In the summer of 2005, Barzani became the first President of the Kurdistan Region and at his side was another Kurdish survivor of Saddam’s tyranny, Iraq’s new President, Jalal Talabani. Both presidents signify the pivotal role of the Kurds in the new Iraq as we all seen. Remember Talabani is having the get together at his house next week to discuss Article 140 regarding the defining of their territorial lines as well security and GOI stuff that Maliki will probably stall on as usual. These Kurds don’t fool around. They have a vision quest if you will, and well you what I mean. Now let’s look at their relationship with Bagdad and economic stance.
To begin with There is a legal hierarchy between KRG law and national law. When there is a contradiction between regional and national legislation, the local KRG legislation prevails! A major difference between KRG investment law and the national law is that KRG law allows owning land whereas national law only allows leases of up to 50 years that can be extended if you know whose palm to grease ha ha. So what defined the KRG property lines? It started with the Autonomy Agreement of March 11, 1970. It recognized the legitimacy of Kurdish participation in government and Kurdish language teaching in schools. However, it reserved judgment on the territorial extent of Kurdistan. Herein lies the rub. Also this agreement reserved judgment on the territorial extent of Kurdistan, pending a new census. Well we all know the bitter census troubles have a direct bearing not only on seats in Parliament and financial compensations, but clearly this agreement now dead has been revised and customized by the CPA originally, to what is today still regarded today as a cluster.
In my opinion the territorial disputes between Kurds and Arabs with Erbil and Security issues indicate a trend toward Kurdistan pulling away from Iraq as an independent state.
The recent escalation in foreign policy with their dialogue with Washington combined with their statements of late talking about the HCL initiative and lack of agreement with Baghdad tells me they are certainly entertaining the idea. I mentioned back on the 19th that Talabani has been trying to reverse the demographic changes that occurred during Saddam Hussein’s 30-year rule where the Baath party changed the administrative jurisdiction of several towns and villages in Nineveh, Diyala and Kirkuk provinces so that they would fall under the central government.
If there was any one thing that has kept Kurdistan from setting up as an independent state, I also feel that their oil channeled into Iraq's national pipeline that exports oil to the global market via Turkey's port of Ceyhan is about to change in favor of Kirkuk as well. Remember it was Shahristani, the oil minister that said that those deals up to 2007 made by the Kurdish regional government with foreign companies would be valid but beyond that, would not be valid. Do we really believe that the GOI with Maliki and his corrupt government will recognize or express a viable deal that enhances the KRG within Iraq?
Conclusion: As opportunities in the rest of Iraq grow, the Kurdish region risks losing the comparative advantage it has enjoyed so far without a backup plan. That advantage has been enough to bring in small and aggressive oil companies, but until now these companies did not have to weigh their investments against missed opportunities with Baghdad. More recent large contract deals by the KRG simply exposed the greed motives of the central government. Baghdad & Erbil oil relations are linked to so many levels of political and economic issues; the push toward autonomy in the North certainly appears to be a solution worth tracking.