Kur­dish Oil for the Arabs ver­sus Oil-for-Devel­op­ment

The Kurdish Globe - - CULTURE - By Dr.Anwer Ahmed Ibrahim

The Ba'ath ran its cam­paign un­der the slo­gan “Arab oil for Arabs”, with no re­gard for the fact that much of the oil in ques­tion was ac­tu­ally Kur­dish. None­the­less the na­tion­al­iza­tions were en­tirely jus­ti­fied, and per­haps more im­por­tantly, they were suc­cess­ful. But it is worth ask­ing how much of the re­sult­ing oil rev­enues were pro­vided by Kur­dish oil fields and how this rev­enue was used. The Kur­dish oil fields are in Kirkuk, the most im­por­tant oil field in Iraq (Vanly, 1993:161). No doubt it was con­ceived as an av­enue for Ara­biza­tion, rather like the ir­ri­ga­tion projects in Kirkuk which were geared to ir­ri­gate the plains ly­ing to the south-east of the town where it was in­tended to im­plant pop­u­la­tion as a pri­or­ity (ibid: 160).

The Oil-for-Food pro­gramme be­gan at the end of 1996 af­ter the United Na­tions and the Government of Iraq agreed on the de­tails of im­ple­ment­ing Res­o­lu­tion 986 (1995), which per­mit­ted Iraq to sell up to a bil­lion dol­lars worth of oil in a 180-day pe­riod. The ceil­ing on oil sales was eased dur­ing 1998 and fi­nally lifted in 1999, en­abling the pro­gramme to move from a fo­cus on food and medi- cine to re­pair­ing es­sen­tial in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing the oil in­dus­try. The Government of Iraq was re­spon­si­ble for the pur­chase and distri­bu­tion of sup­plies in the 15 Prov­inces in the cen­tre and south. The United Na­tions im­ple­mented the pro­gramme in the three North­ern Prov­inces of Do­huk, Er­bil and Sulaimaniya on be­half of the Government of Iraq from De­cem­ber 1996 through 20 March 2003 and 13 per cent of the oil rev­enue fund was al­lo­cated to hu­man­i­tar­ian pro­grammes in Kur­dis­tan.

Distri­bu­tion of bulk food in the north was han­dled by the World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) and med­i­cal sup­plies by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO). Ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­taken by United Na­tions in­ter-agency, a hu­man­i­tar­ian pro­gramme in the north, ranged across 24 sec­tors of need from the pro­vi­sion of food and shel­ter to min­ing, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of water and san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works. The work of UN agen­cies was co­or­di­nated through the United Na­tions Of­fice of the Hu­man­i­tar­ian Co­or­di­na­tor in Iraq (UNOHCI) (UN, 2003:1).

The pos­i­tive im­pact reg­is­tered within the Oil-for-Food Pro- gramme in the Kur­dis­tan Prov­inces ran in par­al­lel with the neg­a­tive im­pact faced by the farm­ers who were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a down­ward trend in mar­ket prices, as a con­se­quence of al­most free distri­bu­tion of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts which were in­cluded in the food bas­ket.

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion is blessed with oil, but it is an ex­haustible nat­u­ral re­source and there­fore not re­new­able. Con­se­quently, it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion to­wards the new gen­er­a­tions to uti­lize the re­turns of this re­source as an in­vest­ment into a per­ma­nent and sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion base. This means, the re­turns from oil should be in­vested in the re­con­struc­tion of Kur­dis­tan; the di­rec­tions of in­vest­ments are all in har­mony and en­hance both cur­rent and fu­ture po­ten­tial to meet Kur­dish peo­ple’s needs and as­pi­ra­tions.

The re­searcher pro­posed that the re­turns from oil should be in­vested as noted above. To this end, it is pro­posed that the re­turns from oil should be ac­cu­mu­lated un­der a scheme sim­i­lar to the Oil-for­Food pro­gramme that might be la­belled ‘Oil-for-Devel­op­ment’ (FAO, 2003:1) pro­gramme and should in­volve the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing women in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. This is hoped to en­sure the eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, in­clud­ing eq­ui­table distri­bu­tion of the rev­enue from oil.

From food bas­ket to sus­tain­abil­ity

How to re­late the re­con­struc­tion and devel­op­ment of the Kur­dis­tan re­gion to sus­tain­abil­ity? Sus­tain­abil­ity in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion may be con­cep­tu­alised as: sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. “Sus­tain­able devel­op­ment is a process of change in which the ex­ploita­tion of re­sources, the di­rec­tion of in­vest­ments, the ori­en­ta­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment and in­sti­tu­tional change are all in har­mony and en­hance both cur­rent and fu­ture po­ten­tial to meet hu­man needs and as­pi­ra­tions” (Burian, 2000 in Kyessi, 2002:108).

In the case of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion the ex­ploita­tion of re­sources (water, land, hu­man, re­turn from oil, etc) are a dilemma in sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and should be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. It is of par­tic­u­larly high sig­nif­i­cance to in­ves­ti­gate how to cre­ate a com- pre­hen­sive frame­work that con­tains long term strate­gic ob­jec­tives?

Bib­li­og­ra­phy FAO (2003) Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion: To­wards Sus­tain­able Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment

in Iraq, the Tran­si­tion from Re­lief, Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Re­con­struc­tion to Devel­op­ment, by Fahmi K. Bishay, Rome, Italy. Kyessi, Alphonce G. (2002): Com­mu­nity Par­tic­i­pa­tion in Ur­ban In­fra­struc­ture Pro­vi­sion

Ser­vic­ing In­for­mal Set­tle­ments in Dar es Salam. SPRING Re­search Se­ries 33: Dort­mund:

SPRING Cen­tre, Fac­ulty of Spa­tial Plan­ning, Univer­sity of Dort­mund.

UN (2003): About the Pro­gramme Oil-for-Food, Of­fice of the Iraq Pro­gramme, Fact Sheet in

Brief Pro­gramme, www.un.org/depts./ oip/ back­ground/ in­dex.html, Up­dated 4 Novem­ber 2003, re­trieved on March, 2008. Vanly, Is­met Sher­iff (1993): A peo­ple with­out a coun­try, the Kurds and Kur­dis­tan, in F.Ab­dul

Jabar &H. Da­wod (eds.), Eth­nic­ity and the State: The case of Kurds, Oliver branch press,

New York.

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