News / Middle East

Iraq's Kurdish Region Sees Economic Boom

Henry Ridgwell
The autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq is witnessing an economic boom, drawing back many exiled Kurds who had fled oppression and now dream of helping to create an independent homeland. 
 
In Erbil’s ancient bazaar, in a city inhabited for 8,000 years, many Kurds now feel more hopeful than ever for the future of their people amid economic gains.
 
Maam Khalil, who has been making tea in the heart of Erbil’s bazaar since 1948, has witnessed seven decades of the Kurdish struggle.
 
"God willing, we will be independent. There are many Kurds, 40 million of us, and God willing we will make our own government and have our own state."
 
Khalil's tea shop has hundreds of photos on the walls that show famous visitors - movie stars, politicians, Kurdish heroes.
 
They tell a history of failed Kurdish alliances in Iraq, of uprisings brutally suppressed, of chemical warfare under Saddam Hussein. 
 
In all, an estimated 182,000 Kurds were killed.  Finally, after the U.S.-led intervention that ousted Hussein in 2003, Khalil said Kurds are free.
 
No breakaway
 
Still, the Kurdistan Regional Government - KRG - does not have plans to break away from Iraq, said Hemin Hawrami of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party.
 
“If Kurds will be regarded as true partners within this democratic constitutional federal Iraq, the Kurdistan region will be part of this Iraq," he said.  "But definitely Kurdistan is not going to be part of any dictatorial Iraq that is not ruled by democracy.”
 
The KRG estimates GDP growth of more than nine percent this year.
 
It has signed exploration deals with foreign oil giants like ExxonMobil, while building a new million-barrel-per-day pipeline to export the oil via Turkey - angering the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad. 
 
“This is our constitutional right and we want to practice our right, we haven’t asked for anything else," Hawrami said. "When we are administrating our own oil sector, the revenue is not only for us, the revenue is for all Iraqis.”
 
Young return
 
As Kurds are increasingly taking an assertive line, their history of oppression is giving way to the optimism of youth. 
 
Fifty-nine percent of the population is under age 25.
 
Among them is Sazan Mandalawi.  After living overseas, Mandalawi returned to Erbil this year.  She works at a youth program and writes a popular blog. 
 
"There’s this feeling that we need to permanently return," she said. "We have no reason to be living abroad. We escaped because we were scared of our lives.  Now back home it’s safe, we should go back.”
 

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid