Kurdish political rights and it’s impact
on the Middle East economy and Stability
By Hiwa Nezhadian - ekurd.net
September 19, 2011
Democracy and the outcome of democratic movements,
if practiced and implemented efficiently, has always
resulted in the enhancement of life, improvement of
economy, revival of culture and enhancement of
social interactions. The word democracy is so
appealing that it has been religiously used around
the world in both developed and underdeveloped
societies, and in many cases abused by the dominant
Iranian clergies claim that Iran is the most
democratic country in the world. Turkish authorities
are proud of their democratic system and even the
United States call Turkey an “oasis of democracy” in
the Middle East. So even though no one outright
speaks against democracy, they abuse the term and
act against every democratic principals if it
doesn’t serve their purpose.
Clear example is Turkey with its roughly 25 million
Kurds living under military dictatorship and on the
verge of cultural extermination, political, and
economic genocide for the last 90 years.
The US and European powers often
ignore the human right abuses in Turkey as long as
they have a cozy relationship with the Turkish
Even Israel who was once a victim of genocide has
ignored supporting basic human rights of the Kurds
and the call for the recognition of Armenian
genocide by the Ottoman Turks, in exchange for
military and economic relations with Turkey. This
double standard of Western governments was clearly
proved and brought up to the stages of theaters in a
documentary film called: “Good Kurds, Bad Kurds” by
Kevin McKiernan .
The movie “Good Kurds, Bad Kurds” clearly shows the
double standard policy of the US towards a minority
that comprises about 30% of the population of
Turkey. The US, to some extent supported Kurdish
struggle in Iraq because of its hostile relationship
with Baghdad, at the same time the US supports
Turkish state in suppressing Kurdish freedom
fighters in Turkey because Turkey is an ally of the
West!! So here we see two faces of the same policy
towards the Kurds, on one side they claim they
support democratic rights of people under
oppression, on the other side aid in further
suppressing the people who are under oppression by
one of their allies, even though the people are of
the same ethnicity and the plight is the same.
But why does the US and the West have double
standards when it comes to the Kurds in two
neighboring countries? As far as the Kurds are
concerned, there are many blood related families
across the borders of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria,
it is simply one nation divided. The Western policy
makers have the tendency of compromising with the
states they have business with and/or countries that
are “strategically important”; this relationship
often turns into military pact.
In many instances U.S. And Israeli intelligent
services have cooperated with their Turkish
counterparts in gathering and forwarding information
on Kurdish liberation activities . Ignoring crimes
and leaving the perpetrators unpunished will only
further crimes, in my opinion this is the root cause
of terrorism, although the Kurds have been tolerant
enough not to follow the rout to terrorism otherwise
there have been plenty of reasons. But let’s see if
the West benefits from such policies.
Apparently there are many reasons why the West looks
the other way when it comes to the oppression of
minorities in their satellite countries, and the
bottom line is economic interest. But are they
correct in their reasons, certainly such policies
are not legitimized, it is inhumane and immoral, but
are they protecting their long term interests?
In many occasions it has been witnessed that the
central governments do not invest in minority
populated regions due to “lack of security” but the
real reason is lack of interest. There is not a
single descent factory or industrial complex in
Kurdish region of Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, an
area the size of France that employs skilled
workers. Even the oil industry does not hire local
people and the revenue from oil reserves in the
Kurdish area has not profited the indigenous people.
Statistically speaking out of the nine Turkish
provinces where less than one-third of the potential
workforce had jobs last year, eight were in the
Kurdish region according to Turkish government
figures. Average incomes in the region’s 13
provinces ranged between one-third and two- thirds
of the national figure, and unemployment rate is up
to 19.1% in the Kurdish regions according to
Turkey’s official statistics, that is if the figures
are not deflated . The condition is even worse in
Syria and Iran according to regional human rights
resources; official records are not available.
The Turkish war on Kurds has so far amounted to more
than $300 billion since 1984 according to Turkish
government estimates, which in today’s Turkish
economy this is an enormous amount of resources,
that has resulted in a wounded nation and rising
national unemployment rate of an average 14.5% as of
April 2010, again according to the government
estimates4, sources believe a much higher figure.
The Kurdish southeast was largely excluded from a
Turkish boom that saw output per capita more than
double to about $8,500 since Erdogan’s party won
power in November 2002, while the benchmark ISE-100
stock index surged fivefold.
As far as economic interest is concerned, democratic
reform often creates economic boom which helps the
local people, neighboring countries as well as
international investors. It creates more jobs, more
currency will be exchanged, and as a result of
relative security, investment will be more
practicable, infrastructure enhancement will
flourish, simply put it, the subjected people will
be busy nation building rather than dealing with
instability and living in uncertainty.
In order to prove the initial statement; whether
overlooking the principals of democracy and siding
with repressive regimes would protect foreign
interests let’s look at some statistics of the
economy of Southern Kurdistan or Kurdish north of
Iraq, a live example in this case as a result of a
relative democracy, and its impact on the
neighboring countries especially Turkey:
Only recently and due to the fact that the Southern
Kurdistan is to some extent liberated from the Arab
domination, the economy has flourished in some
border regions of Turkey and in liberated Kurdistan
in general, and as far as Turkish government is
concerned, the liberation of South Kurdistan has
created a $7.2 billion annual business for Turkey.
Hundreds of Turkish firms have flocked to the
semi-independent Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq,www.ekurd.netbenefiting
from a newly issued law easing curbs on foreign
investments. Currently there are 620 Turkish firms
out of the total 1200 foreign firms in the Kurdish
region. Turkey alone has invested over $621 million
in assets in Kurdistan with an estimated 50,000
Turkish citizens now working in Kurdistan5. About 20
countries have opened General Consulates in South
Kurdistan, north of Iraq.
Four Arab countries of Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, and
Jordan have investment major projects in Kurdistan.
Among them, Kuwait has the lion's share with more
than US$1.5 billion worth of investment. Lebanon
follows Kuwait with around US$760 million, while
Egyptian companies have invested US$350 million.
Jordan's investment in Kurdistan has reached around
US $29 million. United Arab Emirates has announced
around 6 billion dollars investment in Kurdistan6.
So in spite of the fact that no more than 60% of the
Kurdish region of Iraq is now liberated, the only
relatively safe region of Iraq is Kurdistan region
in the north, and with all issues at hand still
Kurdistan is a region that companies and countries
can invest safely and profitably. If similar status
encompasses all of Kurdistan, that is Kurdistan in
Turkey, Iran and Syria the impact on the economy and
stability of the rejoin can not even be imagined.
Local governments ruling Kurdistan should set
extreme nationalism aside, think democratically and
humanly and think about the ever competing world
economy and see the reality. I believe they are left
behind the band wagon, but it’s never too late.
1) Kevin McKirnan began his career as a journalist
in the 1970’s covering armed confrontation by Native
Americans. He has traveled to Kurdistan numerous
times and reported on the Kurds in Iran, Iraq,
Turkey and Syria since 1991. Kevin McKirnan is also
the author of: Kurds, A People in Search of Their
2) U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds In Iraq: By Ann
Scott Tyson and Robin Wright, Washington Post Staff
Writers, Tuesday, December 18, 2007.
3) World Bulletin, June 24, 2011.
4) Benjamin Harvey; July 28, 2010, UTC
5) Azzaman: Posted on 25 May 2010.
6) Asia Times, Middle East: Turkey means business in
Kurdistan, By Justin Vela; Jul 23, 2010.
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