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article imageAllure of independence still strong in Iraqi Kurdistan

By Paul Iddon     Sep 26, 2013 in Politics
Iraqi Kurds have went to vote in local elections recently. Given the timing of the elections and increasing tensions with Baghdad the prospect of an independent state is one that still has great allure to it.
As UPI recently reported Iraq's Kurdish province has recently undergone its fourth parliamentary elections since 1992 and transpired in a rather calm and orderly fashion, testament it seems to the developing state of democracy in that region. Iraq is a country that is still fraught with destructive and destabilizing sectarian violence – the situation today is as bad as it was during the worst periods of sectarian violence that plagued the country in 2008.
As Middle East Online illustrated in a recent report with an ever more centralized bureaucracy prevailing in Baghdad the question of the Iraqi Kurds opting for independence and statehood is one still one fresh on the minds of many of Iraq's Kurds. With their three-province region becoming more independent and self-reliant when it comes to economy, government and the export of oil, through Turkey, the allure of seeing the dream of an independent Kurdish state realized is as tangible as ever.
Whilst Baghdad is neglected by international oil companies Kurdistan is seeing to impressive development largely due to the vast oil revenues that region is getting through investments by many international energy consortium's.
Tensions between Baghdad and Arbil have increased considerably as of late with a senior leader of the Kurdish region, Nechirvan Barzani, insisting that the Iraqi Kurds have the right to export oil without the consent and oversight of the central government. The Baghdad government in turn is arguing that such a policy would constitute the smuggling of the country's resources. It instead wants to mitigate an independent Kurdish energy export policy by constructing a federal pipeline network controlled from Baghdad for the export of oil from the country.
With Kurdistan becoming an economic and political power of its own to be reckoned with tensions with Baghdad are consequently increasing. One particularly dangerous source of animosity between Arbil and Baghdad is stemming from the Kurdish Regional Governments claim that the Kirkuk oilfield is rightfully Kurdish – that oil field has a staggering one-third of Iraq's total oil reserves. The Kurdish authorities claim it is given the fact that it was part of Kurdistan during the time of the Ottomans and is therefore rightfully, as well as technically, within the confines of the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq today. This dispute has even seen to Baghdad dispatching tanks and deploying artillery on the southern border with Kurdistan. This state-of-affairs in turn constitutes one of the biggest threats to the stability and security of that country.
Barham Saleh, who used to be a regional Prime Minister in that region and himself a Kurd, outlined how he is proud of his heritage and Kurdish identity. “I very much would like to see an Iraqi state that is democratic – genuinely democratic – respectful of individual liberties, that makes us all proud to be Iraqi.” He added however that, “This Iraq is yet to be realized.”
The Kurds have essentially run their own autonomous region since the United States launched Operation Provide Comfort to protect the region from the wrath of the brutal and vicious Saddam Hussein regime in Baghdad which had butchered tens-of-thousands of Kurds. Since then it has been the most stable and democratic and open part of Iraq and has once again, through this free and open democratic election process, aptly demonstrated the continued success and functionality of Iraqi Kurdistan's democratic society. Whilst the rest of Iraq is unstable and violent and the government in Baghdad is continually insisting that the Kurds cede control over what they see as rightfully being theirs, hence oil and other resources in their soil, the realization of the dream of complete independence and statehood, particularly in light of the autonomous success they have had without Baghdad's assistance, may even have greater allure than before.
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