The Kurd's Win­ning Card in Iraq

First Kur­dish oil pipe­line ship­ment and the govern­ment in Bagh­dad

The Kurdish Globe - - OPINION - By Saadula Aqrawi

Kurds has sent the first oil ship­ment through its own pipe­line to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, by­pass­ing the Cen­tral Govern­ment in Bagh­dad; this will in­crease the ten­sion be­tween Kurds and the govern­ment in Bagh­dad on one side and be­tween Bagh­dad and Turkey on the other.

The Kurds could boy­cott the na­tional govern­ment and par­lia­ment if their de­mands are not met. They could seek to use their po­lit­i­cal lever­age to per­suade Bagh­dad to of­fer con­ces­sions dur­ing the oil ne­go­ti­a­tions. Kurds and the Cen­tral Govern­ment have a run­ning dis­pute over the right to de­velop and ex­port nat­u­ral re­sources, and both rely on dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Iraq's con­sti­tu­tion.

The Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Ma­liki's bloc emerged as the big­gest win­ner. His party, The State of Law, won 92 seats in the 328-mem­ber Par­lia­ment, but it failed to gain the ma­jor­ity needed to gov­ern alone. Kurds gained a to­tal of 62 par­lia­ment seats. The move­ment of Al-Sadr, won 28 seats, and the Is­lamic Supreme Coun­cil of Iraq, won 29 seats. While the Sun­nis won at least 33 seats by both their two main coali­tion par­ties.

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has the po­ten­tial to achieve ac­cel­er­ated eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and growth. The Eco­nomic, trade and in­dus­trial sec­tors, though dam­aged by in­ces­sant con­flicts have wit­nessed con­sid­er­able de­vel­op­ment. The ex­trac­tive in­dus­tries sec­tor can be tapped into the grow­ing global de­mand for crude oil, nat­u­ral gas and min­er­als. The Re­gion's bright eco­nomic fu­ture is clouded, how­ever, by sev­eral fac­tors com­mon to de­vel­op­ing economies. Kurds of­fi­cially started pump­ing crude oil to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket through a pipe­line that goes through Turkey's Cey­han Mediter­ranean port, but ship­ments were in­ter­rupted many times over rev­enue dis­putes with the Iraqi Cen­tral Govern­ment.

The KRG is ded­i­cated it­self to op­er­ate as the ser­vant of the people in a trans­par­ent and ac­count­able way. This re­quires the re­gional min­istries to col­lect and dis­sem­i­nate key eco­nomic data. Lo­cal businesses, as well as the in­ter­na­tional in­vestors, can make im­por­tant de­ci­sions that will help the econ­omy of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion to grow. Fol­low­ing the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, the KRG will be bet­ter able to po­si­tion it­self for in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ments. The Kur­dis­tan Re­gional au­ton­omy had orig­i­nally been es­tab­lished in 1970 with the cre­ation of the Kur­dish Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion fol­low­ing the agree­ment of an Au­ton­omy Ac­cord be­tween the govern­ment of Iraq and the lead­ers of the Iraqi Kur­dish com­mu­nity led by Mulla Mustafa Barzani, the fa­ther of the cur­rent Pres­i­dent. A Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly was es­tab­lished and Ar­bil be­came the cap­i­tal of the new en­tity which lay in North­ern Iraq, en­com­pass­ing the Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties of Er­bil, Do­huk and Su­lai­ma­nia.

The Iraqi Kur­dis­tan is a par­lia­men­tary democ­racy with a re­gional as­sem­bly, com­prise around 40,000 square kilo­me­ters and have a pop­u­la­tion of 5.5 mil­lion. The sta­bil­ity of the Kur­dis­tan re­gion has al­lowed it to achieve a higher level of de­vel­op­ment than other re­gions in Iraq. Their in­come is 25% higher than in the rest of Iraq. The govern­ment continues to re­ceive a por­tion of the rev­enue from Iraq's oil ex­ports. The Kurds con­structed a sep­a­rate pipe­line and started pump­ing to sep­a­rate stor­age fa­cil­i­ties at Cey­han in Jan­uary. The Kur­dis­tan re­gion's econ­omy is dom­i­nated by the oil in­dus­try, agri­cul­ture and tourism. The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has a more de­vel­oped econ­omy com­pared to the other re­gions in the coun­try.

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