Iraqi Kurdistan Is Booming

(New Republic) Larry Diamond - In the foothills of Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan, the new campus of American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) is rising rapidly - a gleaming constellation of glass, steel, and stone over 400 acres. Seeing all the construction cranes in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, the bustling markets and the passionate youth, one gets the sense that Iraqi Kurdistan is living through a moment of economic and political opportunity unprecedented in the modern history of the long-suffering Kurdish people (who, with some 25 to 30 million Kurds spread across four Middle Eastern states, are widely considered to be the largest stateless people in the world). Kurdistan is booming, with an estimated economic growth rate for next year predicted to be 12%. Investment is pouring in from a vast array of Turkish companies, American oil companies like Exxon, and from construction, hotel, and retail companies throughout the Arab world. If the claims of the Kurdistan Regional Government are correct - that it possesses 45 billion barrels of oil reserves - it would rank sixth in the world in oil wealth. Kurdistan is doing so much better than the rest of Iraq that it's perfectly logical for its citizens to wonder why they can't simply head out on their own as an independent nation - as they have long aspired to. 95% or more of Iraqi Kurds would vote for independence tomorrow if it were possible. But it's not possible. A declaration of complete independence by Iraq's Kurds would be met with a campaign of military pressure, if not outright attack, and economic strangulation from every one of Kurdistan's neighbors. The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.

2011-12-23 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive