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 Kurdish political rights and it’s impact on the Middle East economy and Stability 

 Opinion — Analysis
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


Kurdish political rights and it’s impact on the Middle East economy and Stability ‎ 19.9.2011 
By Hiwa Nezhadian - 

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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 powers.

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.           

Hiwa Nezhadian
The US and European powers often ignore the human right abuses in Turkey as long as they have a cozy relationship with the Turkish state.

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 Homeland.
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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  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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