Kur­dish UK MP

Kur­dish Globe in­ter­view with

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL -

as I men­tioned ear­lier, that ev­ery­one re­mem­bers their his­tory, her­itage and back­ground, and I be­lieve it is a duty upon all Kurds, whether they have be­come US ci­ti­zens, Swedish, Ger­man or Bri­tish, to do their bit for the Kur­dish cause.

I think I have contributed in the past two and a half years. the first thing I did when I came here is to join the All Party Group for Kur­dis­tan and I am now cochair­man of that group. We then de­cided to spend a lot of time, re­source and ef­fort into look­ing at the geno­cide that oc­curred in Iraq against the Kur­dish peo­ple. We have a geno­cide com­mit­tee, which I asked one of my col­leagues here, an ex­cel­lent cam­paign­ing MP, Robert Hal­fon, to chair and which is mak­ing real progress now.

We had a pe­ti­tion that has now re­ceived al­most 30,000 sig­na­tures, although we would like to see it get to 100,000 and I would ask ev­ery Kurd, whether in Kur­dis­tan or the UK, to ask their friends and fam­ily to sign the pe­ti­tion. I think that it is very im­por­tant that the Bri­tish Par­lia­ment recog­nises the geno­cide of Kur­dis­tan, par­tic­u­larly with the 25th an­niver­sary of An­fal and of course Hal­abja coming up. So this is an im­por­tant year and it is im­por­tant that we play our part to en­sure that the world knows and never for­gets.

UK-Kur­dis­tan ties were so­lid­i­fied in 1991, and have gen­er­ally re­mained strong up to to­day, could the UK do more in Kur­dis­tan? Is the UK government do­ing enough to sup­port Kur­dis­tan eco­nom­i­cally, po­lit­i­cally and to pro­mote busi­ness?

When­ever we talk about re­la­tions be­tween Kur­dis­tan and the UK, we have to recog­nise the con­tri­bu­tion that John Ma­jor made in pro­tect­ing the Kur­dish peo­ple in 1991 with the no-fly zones. The cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter and the For­eign Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Hague, have both re­ferred to that pro­tec­tion of the Kurds in the House of Com­mons in re­la­tion to the Libya cri­sis and our part in pro­tect­ing the Libyan peo­ple. I un­der­stand that this is be­cause the Iraqi For­eign Min­is­ter, Hosh­yar Ze­bari, at a meet­ing of for­eign min­is­ters dur­ing the cri­sis, re­minded the room that he would not be there if it hadn’t been for John Ma­jor pro­tect­ing the Kur­dish peo­ple. So one must al­ways re­mem­ber.

I think busi­ness wise we can al­ways do more. I would like to see di­rect flights from the UK to Er­bil, Sulaimaniya and hopefully Duhok and other cities in Iraq as they de­velop their avi­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture. I would like to see more UK busi­nesses be­ing in­volved in the oil and gas in­dus­try, which is be­com­ing an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant in­dus­try in Kur­dis­tan. In fact, Kur­dis­tan is now re­ferred to as the ex­plo­ration cap­i­tal of the world, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Ashti Hawrami, who has been an ex­tra­or­di­nary Min­is­ter of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, and a real vi­sion­ary for the coun­try. But as he would say, if he were here, we need to see more ser­vice com­pa­nies coming in be­cause it is not just the up­stream that you need, the Exxon’s, Chevron’s and To­tal’s and the Tal­is­man’s of this world. But you also need the ser­vice sec­tor, be­cause at the end of the day the com­pa­nies in the ser­vice sec­tor are the ones that do the hard work, that en­sure that the oil and gas is ex­tracted and de­liv­ered in­ter­na­tion­ally and to the domestic mar­ket.

In other ar­eas, we are very strong in the UK in ac­coun­tancy, in the le­gal sys­tem and in var­i­ous other in­dus­tries. 2012 saw the UK be­come a net ex­porter of cars. On the bor­der of my own con­stituency of Strat­ford-on-Avon I have got Jaguar Land Rover and As­ton Martin head-quar­tered there. So the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try needs to be re­flected in a big­ger way, although I know that Jaguar and Land Rover are do­ing great busi­ness in Kur­dis­tan and can only do more.

All th­ese sec­tors need to be en­hanced and the UKTI is work­ing very hard with the KRG rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in UK, who do a great job I have to say. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in Lon­don is best of breed, in or­gan­is­ing con­fer­ences and match mak­ing be­tween busi­ness and needs in Kur­dis­tan. There was a fan­tas­tic water and agri con­fer­ence here with the min­is­ter coming over, with 18 projects that were very clearly out­lined with clear tar­gets, with Bri­tish busi­nesses to look at and hopefully bid for.

In terms of elec­tric­ity, Kur­dis­tan ben­e­fits from al­most 24-hours of elec­tric­ity pro­vi­sion, but the con­sump­tion has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially with more in­dus­try coming in and the rise in con­sumer con­sump­tion. We can do more with our Bri­tish com­pa­nies. In the gas in­dus­try, Bri­tish Gas and oth­ers should get in­volved in our in­cred­i­ble gas finds in Kur­dis­tan.

So in all th­ese ar­eas, I try and work very hard, both in my role as the co-chair­man of the All Party Group but also I sit on the Busi­ness In­no­va­tion and Skills Se­lect Com­mit­tee, that is a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee that scrui­tinises the work of the Busi­ness de­part­ment, and I al­ways make sure that they are play­ing their role in de­liv­er­ing that re­la­tion­ship be­tween the UK and Kur­dis­tan.

The great per­se­cu­tion and ter­ror of the Baathist regime is one of the rea­sons why you and many other Kurds fled to sanc­tu­ary of the UK, in the ethno-sec­tar­ian tur­bu­lence of Iraq and the mo­nop­o­li­sa­tion of power in Bagh­dad is the UK ready to pro­tect Kur­dis­tan and Kur­dish peo­ple against any new tyranny?

In post Sad­dam Hus­sein Iraq the po­lit­i­cal groups came to­gether and drafted a con­sti­tu­tion, which the Iraqi peo­ple rat­i­fied through a ref­er­en­dum. It is very im­por­tant that the whole of Iraq and all its po­lit­i­cal com­po­nents re­spect that con­sti­tu­tion and that con­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ment. That ar­range­ment recog­nises very clearly the rights of the Kur­dish peo­ple, the au­tonomous right of the Kurds, their par­lia­ment and the abil­ity to de­sign the way they want to be gov­erned is all there. There are is­sues, of course, around Kirkuk, the hy­dro­car­bons law and a num­ber of other is­sues which do need ad­dress­ing.

I think it is im­por­tant that Iraq con­tin­ues on the jour­ney of democrati­sa­tion. And democ­racy by the way, isn’t just about a cross in the bal­lot box on a piece of pa­per, democ­racy is about es­tab­lish­ing and strength­en­ing in­sti­tu­tions, in­sti­tu­tions that pro­tect the rights of all ci­ti­zens of a coun­try,

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