Iraq Business Report

Last updated at 10/12/2017

Kurdistan’s Challenges in post ISIS Era

Dr. Yousef M. Sadiq

Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much for such opportunity. On behalf of the Kurdistan people I would like to thank the EU and European countries for their support of Kurdistan and pehsmerga in their fight against ISIS, IDPs and their helps for strengthening institutions and good governance.

 Ladies and gentlemen it gives me a great pleasure to be here. The EU represents the symbol progress, peace, and tolerance. In fact anytime I am here, I am enthused with a feeling that one day we in the Middle East will also have such an institution to represent our people and states, provide a space to hold dialogues on our issues and seek mutual solutions. We hope that the Middle East heading toward that directions and we all can play a significant role in that regards.

 Europe and the Middle East are similar in many ways. Both lack any dominant power capable of controlling the region. We all know that at times different powers in both regions, attempted, and still attempt in the Middle East, to have hegemony or control over the region. 

The history of both areas tell us that a single power cannot control the areas. This was a source of trouble for Europe for a long time. Any similar attempts will have a similar fate.

 Regarding Iraq, today the Kurdistan and Iraq are passing tier most troublesome day since 2003. This is for us and for our allied was disappointing as both Iraqi forces and peshemerga defeated ISIS together. 

The latest events in Iraqi Kurdistan were unfortunate and extremely difficult for the people. Today people in Kurdistan are struggling with multilayered crises: political, economic, security and social. The Kurdistan situation requires immediate action to stabilize and end the state of emergency, especially in the disputed areas. This will prepare the ground for negotiations between Baghdad and Erbil, as the only practical way to overcome the differences. The military reign has to end immediately especially in Kirkuk province and particularly in cities of Tuz, Makhmuor and Shangal where thousands of Kurds were driven out from their home and became IDPs. Especially in Shangal area where they were displaced by ISIS also. The expelled Kurdish people must return to their city and transitional justice has to be implemented. Kurds, Turkmen and Christian Arabs have lived with each other in peace for centuries; the change in political circumstances should not result in enmity.
 As the recent history of the country crystalizes; Baghdad Erbil relationship will be solved through arms. European history tells us that punishing people for the misadventure of their political class never had a good outcome. We all remember Keynes’s thesis after Versailles treaty.

 Having said that our major duty is inside the country. We cannot continue on the path of the last quarter of century. One of the main reasons for this crisis is that we have not understood our positions and our roles. Moreover, we have not practiced politics in a modern fashion. The main obstacle that blocked the emergence of institutions and constitutions is our political behavior.

 Hence we have been unable to have transparency, a government for people and uncorrupt. I take this opportunity to express my full support to Mr. Abdi’s efforts in fighting corruption. I urge him to continue and not exempt anybody, neither from Iraq nor from Kurdistan. Fighting corruption is as important as fighting terror. I also urge the EU and the international community to support these efforts.

 In fact corruption is one of the main reasons for instability in Iraq and the current economic hardship Kurds are enduring. Through corruptions large amount of money have been siphoned to offshore accounts, we have to put our efforts in returning these. This will be a source we can use for rebuilding the destroyed cities and towns without much reliance on our friends. Corruption also results in a security vacuum which terrorist groups can take advantage of.

 Moreover, if we want to rebuild the destroyed cities and towns we have to stop corruption and the siphoning of money to offshore accounts, as highlighted by the donor countries.

 Eradicating corruption and misgovernment requires strengthening the institutions, above all, a sovereign parliament, that can monitor the executive and question it without any restrictions. Strengthening the judiciary is another sine qua non. To enable this a constitution is a prerequisite, not only as a piece of paper but as a social contract that balances the relationship among the powers, and between government and society in political and social areas and lead to a cohesive Kurdistani society. Only on this basis we can talk about our relationship with our neighbors and the rest of the world.
Simultaneously, one of the other main challenges facing Iraq and Kurdistan is the paramilitary groups attached to the political parties. These armed groups enhance the role of party echelons and defend their narrow interests. Without reorganizing these groups there will be little room for a civilian army and the specter of civil war will haunt the country. This will be more dangerous when we look at the proxy wars between regional and global powers in the wider region.

 Kurdistan today is divided and weak because of a failure to build institutions and citizenships. As we know, the foreign relations of any country is based on the fulfillment of domestic needs and interests. We haven't governed like that. It was not the desires and dreams of the Kurdistan people that shaped the relationship of government to the outside, it was rather the interest of a small groups. It is time to halt these behaviors.

 It is time for Baghdad and the KRG to follow different path in dealing with thier differences. I believe if both sides prioritise the general interests, finding solutions will be easier. There are formulas for most disagreements within the Iraqi constitutions. If we stress citizen rights in both Bagdad and Kurdistan the tensions will be calmed down. The more democratic we become, the easier to deal with differences. As it is known democracies are not going to war with each other. 

Iraq and Kurdistan share many mutual interests. Kurdistan, inherits Mesopotamians civilizations, more than anywhere else. We are located at the heart of the three great civilizations of the region, namely: Arabs, Turks and Iranian civilizations. There have been mutual influences between these civilizations and us. We share many great values. This geographical feature is part of our being and is unchangeable. We have to deal with it and make it the premise of our coexisting with our neighbours.

 Ladies and gentlemen as EU diplomats repeatedly express, the EU security relies on the security of its neighbors: Iraq and Kurdistan are immediate neighbors of the EU. We welcome all EU’s efforts to start negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad. We also appreciate the new approach by the EU to address the root causes and institutional building.

 It is rather important to stress that fact that it is now the time to start a long term plan to deal with terror in all its different aspects: political, economic, social and ideational in collaborations of all.

If fighting terror brought us closer to each other, in the similar way, post terror requires continuity of the path. Aiming at building state institutions is the right way to tackles the issues in both Kurdistan and Iraq. We are happy to hear that the EU is heading in that direction. This is something we have advocated for a long. Only through real institutions and a free public space can we have dialogue and overcome our difference.

 Terror that fuels migration shows how instability in our area directly affects Europe and impacts its political landscape. At the end, I stress again long term stability in our region is in our mutual longterm interest. A the the end I stress that the only path for democratization is through enabling judiciary, rule of law, and governing. This is our strategic aim as a speaker of parliament, as a Gorran movement. This will be a strong premise to build enduring EU Kurdistan and Iraq relationship.

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