SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq, February 13, 2018
SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq, February 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
The world is assiduously scrutinizing Iraq's reconstruction needs during an international conference in Kuwait this week, which is co-hosted by the World Bank. However, there is a grave danger that Kurdistan will not receive its fair share of attention and recognition during the event. "It would be short sighted for governments, multi-laterals, the donor community and private investors alike to overlook Kurdistan since it has long been a reliable and indispensable partner in political and security matters," said Bafel Talabani, an advisor to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
He thinks that Kurdistan once again proved its mettle during the recent fight against ISIS in which its valiant Peshmerga forces where a decisive factor in rooting out religious zealots from Iraq. Talabani believes that "Kurdish forces were directly responsible for making the West a safer place," though Kurdish civilians and security forces paid a high price for defeating ISIS. Nearly 2,000 Peshmerga fighters gave their lives in the fight against ISIS and today Kurdistan hosts hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees.
Pre-ISIS, Kurdistan was hailed as the next Dubai and foreign direct investment buoyed its economy. During the boom years, there were more cranes in Kurdistan's capital, Erbil, than there were minarets. While Kurdistan's development success was tragically interrupted, Talabani thinks that Kurdistan remains an attractive investment destination because its positive fundamentals have not changed. "Amongst others, we have two international airports enabling global connectivity, guests can enjoy our hospitality in world-class hotels, Kurdistan's workforce is young, educated and ambitious, and our country enjoys a strategic position within the Middle East," declared Talabani as the conference got underway.
Nevertheless, Kurdistan needs dedicated partners and investors to become a more stable and prosperous nation. The country's democratic history is young and its institutions need strengthening. Kurdistan's development can only happen alongside a strong economy that provides jobs and social services to its people. "As we have seen in countless examples around the world, a stronger democracy goes hand in hand with economic development," opined Talabani.
After a prolonged period of hardship and suffering, the Kurdish people deserve a chance to a better life. Kuwait has always stood shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdish people and it remains a devoted friend. "I want to offer my deepest felt thanks for this enduring relationship," said Talabani. Landmark projects include Kuwait's investments in the Kurdish oil and tourism sector as well as delivering humanitarian aid to the earthquake victims in Halabja and Sulaymaniyah late last year.
As the international community engages in the reconstruction conference and Iraq requests nearly $90 billion of assistance, Talabani urges all stakeholders to remember that the Kurdistan region is unequivocally part of Iraq. It therefore hopes for an equitable share of development assistance from organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the donor community and private investors. Growth and stability in Kurdistan remains vital for the stability of the wider region.