October 11, 2006

The oil parade; Being a guest in your own home

BY Behrooz Shojai
Globe Editorial

Undoubtedly, the formation of the united Iraqi government in Baghdad should be attributed to the skills of the Kurdish leadership.

Since it frenetically has worked to bring together all parts, Sunnis as well as Shiites, to the negotiation tables.

The efforts of the Kurdish leadership originate from the Kurdish people's commitment to democracy and tolerance. It is not an exaggeration if we consider ourselves as the steady ship of the quest for democracy in the turmoil sea of the Middle East. In this part of the world we are almost all alone; hence, we need all assistance offered to us from the outside.

With the help of our American friends we have got rid off Saddam Hussein's reign of terror, whose target was mainly the Kurdish people. We are indeed grateful for America's great endeavour, but everybody should remember that our own achievement was not a gift from above.

We have been visited by eminent visitors from Washington, to convince us about the virtue of our cooperation with the central government in Baghdad; cooperation about the distribution of oil-wealth over all Iraq. Our elected leaders have pointed out that all oil contracts will be conducted in accordance with the Iraqi constitution, which does not elucidate how the future oil reserves should be exploited; shared with the central administration or owned only by the regional government.

This constitution has already been approved by the Iraqi assembly. But when the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) set about oil mining activities our "fellow-country-men" in Baghdad were not late to remonstrate; all in old central governmental manner. When oil wells were exploited in our land nobody asked us about authorizations and permissions.

The central government, as the juridical part, bears the responsibility of 70 years of exploitation in Kurdistan. The Iraqi central government, as the juridical part, has the responsibility of destroying more than 4.000 Kurdish villages. All habitants of these villages and towns must be compensated in any democracy.

The Iraqi central government, as the juridical part, bears the responsibility to compensate for lost incomes from agriculture during several decades.The Iraqi central government, as the juridical part, bears the economic responsibility of neglected infrastructure and industrial sector in Kurdistan.

The Iraqi central government must, as the juridical part, compensate the families of those thousands of people who were 'Anfalized 'during the reign of terror.

The Iraqi state compensated Kuwaitis by billions of dollars. Compared to Kuwait, damages conducted on Kurdistan are enormous. The Iraqi state must compensate for all these damages and I believe it is high time for the KRG to initiate a commission for this purpose.

Having the control over oil mining in Kurdistan properly is the only way to prevent the central government to use it against us again. For decades Kurds lost all benefits from oil wealth, oil that was exploited in our own soil. It is time that we are in charge of what takes place in our own yard.

The Kurdish nation is committed to the path of democracy and eternal friendship with democratic nations; thus the support from democratic nations is crucial for the survival of the democratic experience in Kurdistan. As it concerns our friends in Washington, it is sure that they are aware of our past with the Iraqi central government and will hopefully act accordingly.

After all, by now, they must have differentiated friends from the foes in the not so friendly Middle East.