UK Shadow Middle East Minister: ‎Kurdistan an emerging player with massive potential for UK

Brighton, UK ( – The Kurdistan Region is emerging as a player in its neighbourhood and offers massive potential to the UK, according to Ian Lucas, the UK Opposition Labour party’s Shadow Middle East Minister.

Mr Lucas was speaking recently at the Labour party’s annual conference in Brighton. He was part of a panel discussing the Kurdistan Region and energy security at a fringe meeting organised by the Kurdistan Regional Government UK Representation and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region.

Other speakers were Lord Glasman and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG High Representative to the UK. The meeting was chaired by Gary Kent, director of the APPG on Kurdistan.

Shadow Middle East Minister, Ian Lucas

Speech, fringe meeting, Labour Party Conference

Brighton, September 2013

In many parts of the Middle East, the UK is handicapped by its history: from Iran to Israel, there are those who are suspicious of the UK because of past UK ME policy.

In the region of Iraqi Kurdistan, the position is entirely different. There is a huge well of goodwill towards the UK borne of UK policy towards the Kurds in the last 20 years.

It is in this context that Kurdistan region is developing.

Politically, it is in a tough neighbourhood, next to Syria, to Iran and its traditional foe, Turkey. last June, however, I saw for myself how Iraqi Kurdistan is thriving in that locality. Politically, it has a working relationship with Iran and is redefining its traditional relationship with Turkey.

It is also offering huge support to Syria, support I saw for myself at the Domiz Refugee Camp near the Syrian Border.

It is helped in this process by Kurds returning from across the world to what they see as the new born Kurdistan. I met Kurds returning from Canada, Australia and the United States. They want to be part of building a new country within Iraq.

As English speakers, they are beneficiaries of the Kurds’ thirst for the language – in its media, its universities and its economy. I met with Erbil University’s Vice- Chancellor who had already met with representatives of Glyndwr University in my own town of Wrexham.

What is driving relationships forward is Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil and gas wealth, resources that are at the root of the region’s new bond with Turkey. I saw the road near Duhok, packed with tankers delivering oil. It will shortly be superseded by a new pipeline, a physical expression of the new link between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey.

This emerging player offers massive potential for the UK. Our language and reputation are enormous benefits to the UK : together they offer us a new gateway to the region, a gateway that has not existed before

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