“The Other Iraq”
Kurdishaspect.com - By Dana Nawzar Jaf
The Iraqi Kurdistan region of Iraq or the northern part of Iraq is known to be “the other Iraq”. Every one may have different reasons for why calling it this way. It is fairly the other Iraq for Americans because it is the only Iraqi corner where they are welcomed with flowers instead of explosives. American soldiers enter the Kurdish universities with their helmets on and take uncounted pictures with the chicks who are too startled to say more than a greeting.
It is certainly the other Iraq for the unlucky southerners who have nowhere to go but the “lovely north” to head to. These Iraqis are refugees inside Iraq, or the other Iraq. Before coming, the only thing they know about Kurdistan, or their lovely north, is the wonderful images of Gali Ali Beg and Ahmed Awa waterfalls. They don’t know that there are more than just waterfalls in Kurdistan. They’d better find detailed and convincing answers for what a Kurdish child may ask. After all, they are coming from a rival region from where we were attacked for more than four decades.
Kurdistan is also the other Iraq for the oil companies which were disappointed by the insurgency in the other parts of Iraq. These companies may have lost tens of oil-rich fields in Basra, but what they have around Erbil is more promising. Kurdistan regional government is certainly a better choice compared to the fragile Iraqi government and its weak officials. In Baghdad, reaching a consensus on oil-related issues is almost impossible, while in the other Iraq, contracts are made behind closed doors. Whatever we know about these contracts are mere speculations. Only the companies and few people in the ruling elite know about them.
There are many others for whom Kurdistan might still be the other Iraq. But this doesn’t change anything from the fact that the residents of this region never feel this “otherness”. People have a totally different criterion for measuring success, and it is certainly not Iraq. No one in the intellectual and political elite thinks of Iraq as the example. President Masoud Barzani, Kurdistan region’s first president, dreams of making a new Dubai out of Kurdistan. This dream, though too ambitious, is a translation of what people think of themselves and their autonomous region.
Kurdistan was meant to be a safe heaven for the democratic aspirations of a miserable nation, not a place where freedom is sold by doses. In the other Iraq there are patrons who tell the people to shut up, because only two blocks away, in real Iraq, no one is protected. They want silence in exchange for freedom, and that is the other Iraq.
Finally being the other Iraq is no longer a prestigious position to be in. taking pride in being the other Iraq is nothing but a slap in the face for all what we have worked for in the last two decades. There is a general recognition among Kurdish people for the development on the security level, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of our freedoms, because “I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.”