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 Tensions between PUK and Gorran in Iraqi Kurdistan worry businessmen

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Tensions between PUK and Gorran in Iraqi Kurdistan worry businessmen  15.1.2010  

January 15, 2010

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — A member of the Sulaimaniyah Chamber of Commerce says that the recent tensions between Jalal Talabani, secretary- general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, and Nawshirwan Mustafa, leader of Gorran (Change) Movement is harming the economy of the province.

"Businessmen want to be sure about their investment in the area," said Yaseen Rahim, a member of the Chamber. "But the recent political tensions worry businessmen about the future of their projects."                               
In recent months tensions between PUK and Gorran has dramatically escalated. Both parties launched an aggressive media attack against each other and both leaders traded accusation about their past history. The situation deteriorated to a level that Massoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan, had to interfere to ease the tension.

Early this week, Barzani managed to broker an agreement between the two factions to stop media campaign against each other.

For many people, the media war was a reminder of the catastrophic civil war that the region went through in the mid of 1990s.

Since the fall of the Bath regime in 2003, the region has witnessed a dramatic improvement in economic and business opportunities. Hundreds of regional and international companies have invested in the region.

"Foreign investors never invest in a place where tensions and conflicts are about to breakout," Rahim said.

However, Muhammad Karim, Chairman of the Sulaimaniyah-based Kurdish Economy Forum, said that the recent media war between the two factions will not discourage business people to invest in the region, "(The tensions) will not create huge problems for the (province's) economy," he said. "Besides this is not like a war between two countries."

Karim said that parts of the escalation of the tensions between PUK and Gorran can be labeled as election campaign for the Iraqi parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on March 7th, 2010. PUK is part of a coalition of more than a dozen Kurdish parties to run in the election,
www.ekurd.netwhile Gorran is running in a single slate. Gorran, PUK and its coalition, and the Kurdistan Islamic Union are the main parities to compete to for the region's 41 seats in the Iraqi parliament.

Rahim said that recently a number of European companies agreed to invest in Sulaimaniyah, but when they heard about Iranian bombardments of the villages along the Iraqi-Iranian borders in Kurdistan region, they decided not to invest in the region.

Iranian military has been shelling Kurdish along the border for months claiming that the Iranian Kurdish guerrillas staging attacks on Iranian targets from Iraqi lands.

Some business people said that the situation in Sulaimaniyah. Chima Salih, Director of Clean Company, said that the tensions worry them, "An investor who makes (profit) in years would be scared when tensions occur in the country."

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