April 15, 2013

A PEOPLE WHO THEMSELVES A NATION ARE ONE:

Iraqi Kurdistan in bloom (Jackson Diehl, April 14, 2013, Washington Post)

Kurdistan is a democracy, though an imperfect one; the territory is peaceful and the economy is booming at the rate of 11 percent a year. Foreign investors are pouring though gleaming new airports to invest, especially in Kurdish-controlled oil fields. Exxon, Chevron, Gazprom and Total are among the multinationals to sign deals with the regional government. A new pipeline from Kurdistan to Turkey could allow exports to soar to 1 million barrels a day within a couple of years.

There was one university for the region's 5.2 million people a decade ago; now there are 30. "Our people," says Hussein, the chief of staff to President Massoud Barzani, "did quite good."

The bigger story is that Kurds, a non-Arab nation of some 30 million deprived of a state and divided among Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, are on the verge of transcending their long, benighted history as the region's perpetual victims and pawns. Twenty-five years ago, Kurds were being slaughtered with chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein and persecuted by Turkey, where nearly half live. A vicious guerrilla war raged between Kurdish insurgents and the Turkish army.

Now Turkey is emerging as the Kurds' closest ally and the potential enabler of a string of adjacent, self-governing Kurdish communities stretching from Syria to the Iraq-Iran border. Having built close ties with the Iraqi Kurdish government, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now negotiating a peace deal with the insurgent Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) -- a pact that could mean new language and cultural rights, as well as elected local governments, for the Kurdish-populated areas of southeastern Turkey.

Meanwhile, Barzani and the Iraqi Kurds have been trying to foster a Kurdish self-government for northern Syria, where some 2.5 million Kurds live.

Posted by at April 15, 2013 6:48 PM
  

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