Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meeting KRG in London

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir the Head of the Department Foreign Relations had a packed schedule on his visit to the UK. He met FCO Minister Alistair Burt, participated in the FCO’s Future of the Middle East conference and spoke at a Next Century Foundation think tank seminar. He said that the Kurdistan Region is very worried about Prime Minister Al-Maliki’s maneouvres against other Iraqi politicians. 

A conference about Iraq and Kurdistan was organized by the NCF on Tuesday 17. The meeting was held at the new Kurdish Region Government representative office in London, with the presence of William, the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, and the KRG High Representative to the UK Bayan Sami Adbul Rahman. Since the withdrawal of the US troops in December, worries have increased about the situation in the country, and especially in the Kurdistan region, whose minority was particularly targeted under the Saddam’s regime.
At the moment the situation in Iraq is especially problematic, with an escalation risk to a sectarian bloody conflict among the three main Sunnis, Shiite and Kurdish groups. The KRG Minister referred in particular to the “Hashemi case”: Iraq’s Vice President has been accused of running death squads assassinating Shiite government members and asked to face a trial, but at the moment the Sunni leader is hosted in the Kurdish region, under the protection of Barzani’s government. The case is a high-sensitive issue today, and Kurds are particularly concern for its consequences. During the meeting, KRG Minister Bakir stated that the first aim of his government is to reconcile the parts, avoiding a dangerous escalation of the issue, and that Kurds are willing to play a role as negotiators to facilitate the settlement of the dispute. The Kurdish authorities are especially worried about the possible use of this case as a pretext to discuss the post Saddam political structure of Iraq as a federalist state and its division of power.
Federalism is seen as the best solution for Iraq, and the respect of the Federalist Constitution is considered the key factor for the future of the country, and the only way for the Kurdish people to be part of an Iraqi state. The respect of the Constitution is important not only for the division of political power in the country, but also in sharing oil revenues and facing the dispute territories issues. In this sense, using at best its special autonomous status, the Kurdistan Region is becoming a quiet stable and secure area in an increasing hard nation. As illustrated during the meeting, security condition in Kurdistan are far better than in the rest of Iraq, and the reconstruction phase is greatly benefitting from this. Many states and foreign companies are attracted in Kurdistan, signing contracts for the exploitation of its oil resources and the construction of infrastructures destroyed during the war. Kurdish authorities are eager to build good relations with foreign countries: among them, special places are reserved to Turkey, Iran, the US, France, the UK, and some Arab states. The necessity to create a solid diversified economy goes along with foreign investments and the development of florid partnerships with these countries. External relations present also some challenges to the Kurdish government, with regards to two neighbouring countries as Iran and Syria. With its numerous Kurdish community, the developments of the Syrian struggle are particularly concerning the Arbil government, which is trying to help the divided Syrian Kurdish reality.
Many obstacles but also some relevant good steps are the balance sheet of the Kurdish experience in the post Saddam Iraq so far. As the KRG representatives in London highlighted, Kurdistan could become a positive element for both Iraq and the entire region, as an example of democracy, stability and development. 2012 will be a crucial year for its aspirations, and the first priority will be to take hard decisions to stabilize the fragile current Iraqi coalition, preventing a possible bloody collapse into a civil war.

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