October 28, 2002


Business Is Growing in Kurdish Iraq (Brian Murphy, Oct 27, 2002, AP)
A five-star hotel is taking shape on a block blasted by gunners during a Kurdish civil war in the mid-1990s. Crews are planting trees and building roads.

For the first time in years, there are more briefcases than firearms in the halls of local bureaucracy.

It's not exactly boom times for Iraq's Kurdish region. But, thanks to U.S. and British air patrols that keep Iraqi troops out, it's a true land of opportunity compared with the rest of the country under Saddam Hussein's pervasive controls. [...]

The U.N.-administered oil-for-food program, which began in 1996, has helped jump-start the Iraqi Kurdish region, a landlocked arch of mountains and arid plains that hugs the borders of Syria, Turkey and Iran. The Kurds receive 13 percent of the total oil revenue - about $7 billion spent or earmarked so far, United Nations officials say.

Now, investment cash has started to arrive from Kurds abroad. Local entrepreneurs can turn to banks for business loans. Shops are full of goods from handmade furniture to top brands of liquor.

"We've gone through war and fighting. Now it's the time for business, God willing," said Karzan Taher Aziz, manager of a new Internet salon scheduled to open next month in the old bazaar district in Irbil, about 200 miles north of Baghdad.

"The Kurdish people have always been a persecuted people. The Internet helps us see the world and what we can become," Aziz said.

There's been a great outcry on the Left and the Far Right about how America has Imperial ambitions. But it's an odd kind of empire that exerts no political control over a region it's liberated in war.
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2002 1:48 PM
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