Federal constitution the only viable foundation for Iraq’s unity

The vast energy assets of my country, Iraq, were long abused to fund regional conflicts and instruments of internal repression. No one knows that better than the Kurds, who were the target of a brutal campaign of genocide that culminated in the chemical bombardment of Halabja in the late 1980s. Today, thanks to the American actions in liberating Iraq, our oil and gas resources can become a source of stability for us, and provide dependable security of supply to the global energy market.

The question now is how Iraq recovers and takes its place in the modern world. In achieving this, we value the support of our many friends, especially in the U.S. We believe the energy interests of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the federal government of Iraq and the U.S. are the same; the priority is to increase production across Iraq and to maximize exports. The KRG’s common-sense approach is to help stabilize oil markets through increased production at a moment of significant international tension.

The KRG has built a new energy sector from scratch in just five years with help from American and European companies, as well as others. The federal constitution makes clear the KRG’s right to manage the resources. The export and marketing of Iraq’s energy is not the monopoly of any single entity, provided revenues are shared fairly among the Iraqi people. This year, the KRG could export at least 250,000 barrels of oil per day, which would raise more than $8 billion for Iraq’s treasury. We are on track to turn this into one million barrels per day by 2015 and two million barrels per day by 2019 with new discoveries.

Thanks to our prudent management of natural resources, our region enjoys near round-the-clock electricity. We are also providing power to hard-pressed neighboring provinces in the north of Iraq such as Kirkuk and Nineveh, helping to underpin their economic revival.

However, some are unjustifiably concerned that when the Kurds ask for their fair share and their rights that they seek independence. We wish to remain part of a democratic and federal Iraq, but given the country’s troubled history of authoritarian rule, we believe a decentralized oil policy and the sharing of power and wealth is essential to Iraq’s unity. The tragic lessons of the past teach us that Iraq cannot be governed by force, only through cooperation and consensus. Economic growth undermines geopolitical extremism and conflict.

We need to get oil from the Kurdistan region — and more widely from northern Iraq — to market. By 2019, over three million barrels per day of oil could flow through Iraq’s northern energy corridor to Turkey and the international market. Export infrastructure must be built, but this requires tackling bottlenecks through additional feeder and export pipelines.

The KRG’s relationship with America’s NATO ally Turkey over energy should not be a concern to our U.S. partners. Iraq’s unity and upholding the federal constitution are central to all discussions with Turkey, which will not encourage separatism as it seeks to negotiate a new status for the Kurds in its own country. We are sure that achieving lasting stability in Iraq is also an approach shared by Ankara.

Those who unjustifiably suspect our motives perhaps forget that Iraq’s unity is already at risk because of the non-adherence to the constitution by the current federal administration in Baghdad. The KRG believes that Washington’s approach to Iraq’s energy challenge can help Iraq shepherd through a new deal on energy that will benefit all its people in accordance with the constitution and advance stability and economic wellbeing in the wider region.

The KRG is entitled to and can make the oil and gas exports happen, and prefers to do this with Baghdad. But sadly, those in charge there refuse to honor agreements and negotiate based on the constitution.
In this light, the KRG seeks constructive dialogue with Baghdad to resolve all outstanding oil and gas issues based on the federal constitution as the only viable foundation for Iraq’s unity.

Dr. Ashti Hawrami is Minister of Natural Resources for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq.


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One Halabja is enough for the world

The KRG High Representative to the UK, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman reflects on Anfal Day.

Iraqi Kurds today mark the genocide carried out by Saddam Hussein in which 182,000 perished over a few months in 1987-88.

We are not a people that wallow in the past but we need our friends to understand the still heavy weight of genocide on our society.

We are grateful for the support of British troops who were part of Operation Provide Comfort in 1991 and later enforced a no-fly-zone over Kurdistan to protect us from the Butcher of Baghdad. If these steps hadn’t been taken by Britain, America and other allies, Saddam would have continued his campaign of death.

Iraqi Kurdistan is relatively small – about the size and population of Scotland. In almost any Kurdish gathering, half were affected directly and the other half indirectly by the genocide.

Saddam’s genocide campaign in 1987-88 was an industrialised effort to eliminate us. It was planned and executed systematically. Chemical weapons killed women and children; boys and men ‘of battle age’ were rounded up and ‘disappeared’. We are finding them in mass graves, 25 years later. This operation of death and destruction was called the Anfal by Saddam, meaning the spoils of war.

But Saddam’s brutality went beyond the Anfal. His most notorious act was a poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja where a chemical bombardment killed 5,000 people in one fell swoop and left thousands more permanently maimed.

Before this, untolled numbers of Kurds were butchered over many decades. Thousands of our villages were systematically razed to the ground. They were the backbone of our society as was
agriculture which was wiped out. We used to be self-sufficient and were the bread basket of Iraq. We now have to import most of our food. But we want to feed ourselves and are encouraging British and other companies to help kick-start our agriculture into life again.

The perhaps deeper damage is psychological. Many widows do not know for certain if their husband, brother, son, grandfather or uncle could still be alive rather than buried in an unmarked mass grave somewhere in Iraq. They wait forlornly and cannot easily live a normal life.

The survivors in Kurdistan do their best but it is undeniable that whatever we do for them it is too little as it cannot bring back their loved ones or repair the deep physical and psychological wounds they carry still. But their pain can be helped by the world acknowledging what the British Government calls the unique suffering of the Kurds.

That is why we have organised a global campaign to urge governments to formally recognise the genocide. The Swedish, Norwegian and British parliaments have formally recognised the genocide. We are confident that other parliaments will follow.

We are also very pleased that the British Government and the Labour Opposition have pledged to work together and with us to find a legal pathway to formal recognition by the British Government.

Marking the Kurdish genocide could become as regular and deep as the commemoration of the Holocaust. And for the same reason. Unacknowledged crimes become easier to repeat. Bearing witness is not merely moral but makes other genocides, atrocities and war crimes harder to carry out.

We have many friends who opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and we respect their sincerely held views. One of our best friends is the Labour MP Dave Anderson, who opposed the intervention in 2003, but who now thinks, thanks to his dialogue with Kurdish unions and others, that the intervention should have taken place before the worst of the genocide was inflicted on us.

This illustrates a new theme in international relations which seeks to go beyond making dictators accountable for their crimes after the act to seeking, under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine of the UN, to prevent such atrocities.

Sadly, the international community has been slow on the uptake concerning Syria where maybe 100,000 people have been slaughtered in the last two years and where chemical weapons could yet be used against civilians. The parallel is very close to our hearts given that Syria is our neighbour and is ruled by another Ba’athist regime like that of Saddam. One Halabja and one Anfal is enough for the world.

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Co-Chair Nadhim Zahawi asks Clare Short to take action over missing Kurdistan Report

Clare Short
Chair, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

6 April 2013

Dear Clare

I am writing on behalf of the APPG on the Kurdistan Region to ask you to take action in relation to the oddly censored section on the Kurdistan Region that should have appeared in the recently released EITI report, which you helped launch in Baghdad.

The decision, in 2008, by the then federal deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, that Iraq wished to comply with the EITI to embrace transparency concerning the flows of oil and money was a major breakthrough, as I am sure you will agree.

You will also recognise that commitment to the goals and principles of EITI is enshrined in the Kurdistan Region’s Oil & Gas Law of 2007.
Sadly, the first annual EITI report on Iraq in 2011, covering revenues for 2009, excluded production and export revenues generated in the Kurdistan Region, including oil exported via the state-owned oil marketing outfit, Somo.

I understand that with the support of the World Bank and the international EITI secretariat, the KRG agreed to work with the EITI Iraq branch (IEITI) to produce a report covering revenues for 2010 that reflected the legal, fiscal and structural realities of the oil, gas and mining sectors in Iraq.

It was agreed with EITI by all parties (including representatives of the federal Ministry of Oil and Somo) that a separate chapter on the KRG would be included in the main Iraq report.
The reporting team led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the KRG Office for Government Integrity became fully engaged, and despite the lack of EITI guidance or training — and working under severe time constraints — it produced a comprehensive chapter covering the activities of the Kurdistan oil and gas sector in 2010. It was the first time such a report had been produced.

The KRG’s contribution to this transparency process was vital to the EITI Board’s designation of Iraq as EITI Compliant on 12 December 2012. Eddie Rich, EITI’s deputy head and regional director of Southern and Eastern Africa and Middle East, wrote to the KRG praising its contribution to the 2010 report. “The commitment of the KRG to publish and participate was very important in this decision. You too are to be congratulated. I hope the 2010 report will give the fuller picture.”

In its decision, the EITI Board, comprising members from governments, companies and civil society, reminded IEITI that: “In accordance with the EITI Rules, Iraq is required to include all material revenue payments in their EITI reporting… To this end, the Board requires the inclusion of oil and gas production in the Kurdistan Region and sales revenue to the Kurdish Regional Government to be addressed in the 2010 EITI report.”

In addition, the KRG made a strong but unsuccessful recommendation for the report to include details of Iraq’s domestic refining and fuel consumption.
However, at the launch of the report in Baghdad yesterday (to which neither the KRG nor the senior supervising World Bank official was invited) the IEITI council presented a document from which the figures on the Kurdistan Region had been unilaterally removed.

I agree with the KRG in arguing that this underhand tactic has set back the cause of transparency for the Iraqi people. It has also damaged the reputation of EITI for not ensuring impartiality in the revenue reporting process.

Regrettably, it appears that a process supposed to promote transparency has been lost in the fog of political manipulation by some officials in Baghdad.

The KRG tells me that it remains committed to the goals and principles of EITI and in the cause of full transparency has decided to publish the deleted chapter on its website.

The KRG believes the issues surrounding transparency in Iraq’s petroleum and mining sector are too important to be left in the hands of politically motivated individuals.

I am pleased that the KRG has decided, to ensure no such repetition of this unfortunate incident occurs, that it will seek to engage a reputable third-party organization to engage with stakeholders in Kurdistan Region and oversee the production of a full and uncensored KRG oil and gas transparency report that will bear scrutiny under the guiding principles of EITI.

In the meantime, I would be very grateful if you could explain how the EITI has allowed this to happen and to urge you to take action to ensure that it is not repeated.

Yours sincerely

Nadhim Zahawi MP
Co-Chair APPG Kurdistan Region

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Kurdish Genocide event at the European Parliament

On Tuesday 26 March 2013, the 25th anniversary of Halabja chemical attacks and Anfal Campaign against Kurds has been commemorated in the European Parliament (EP) by an exhibition organized by the KRG and UNPO.

On the occasion of the Halabja/Anfal anniversary, a three-day Halabja Exhibition has been opened in the EP. The event was organized in cooperation with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) as part of the KRG’s global campaign for recognition of the Kurdish Genocide. The exhibition is supported by the deputy chair of the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights, MEP Joanna Senyszyn. Members of the European Parliament from different political groups attended the opening of the exhibition, among them Hans-Gert Pöttering, former EP President, Ana Gomes, Socialists and Democrats Foreign Affairs Coordinator, Struan Stevenson, Chair of the EP-Iraq Delegation, Jürgen Klute, Chair of the EP-Kurdish Friendship Group and MEP Jim Higgings. Many diplomats, representatives of European and Kurdish NGOs and political parties were also present.

The event was opened by MEP Senyszyn who welcomed the guests and shared her feelings of honour and pride to host the Kurdish exhibition. The Head of KRG Mission to EU, Delaver Ajgeiy presented shortly the historical context of Halabja gas attack and Anfal campaign: “The people of Kurdistan have been victims of internationally recognized crimes committed by the former Iraqi regime and in particular by the Baath regime leaded by Saddam Hussein. At the beginning of the 70s, the Iraqi government carried out an ethnic cleansing programme in Kirkuk, Khaneqin and Sindjar and other areas inhabited by Kurds, Turkmen and other minorities to change the demographic structure of these areas. This annihilation programme continued until 2003. In 80s the Iraqi government was responsible for some ten thousands Feyli Kurds who disappeared without trace. To this day it is not known, but it is believed that they were executed by the Iraqi government. In 1983 the Iraqi government took some 8.000 men and boys from the Barzani tribes. 22 years after their disappearance it has been discovered that they were imprisoned in concentration camps in the south of Iraq, executed and buried in mass graves. At least one hundred eighty two thousand (182.000) people from Kurdistan were killed by the Iraqi regime in the 70s and 80s. The majority of these people were killed from 1978 to 1989 in the genocide campaign that the regime officially called Anfal. During these campaign the Iraqi government abducted and executed tens of thousands of civilians, including large number of woman and children and destroyed our 5 000 of villages”.

Mr. Ajgeiy described the tragic events on 15 March 1988: “The Iraqi military bombarded the town of Halabja with chemical weapons killing at least 5000 civilian, men, women, children, animal, including anything living. The Iraqi military bombarded with chemical weapons many other villages in Kurdistan. In conducting this genocide campaign the Iraqi government destroyed much of the civilian and infrastructure in areas inhabited by Kurds and damaged the environment of Kurdistan. However, this inhuman act has not been taken seriously by the international public opinion and it failed to prevent such acts in the world after Halabja”.

In conclusion of his speech and on behalf of Kurdistan Government, Mr. Ajgeiy urged the European Parliament to recognize formally the Genocide against the people of Iraqi Kurdistan and called the United Nations to do likewise:“We also ask our friends in the European Parliament and other international organisations to play a stronger role in the international recognition of the genocide against Kurds. Kurdistan Region needs resources, as well as help from the international community to deal with the consequences of this genocide. On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdish people I would like to thank you all to be here today and a special thanks to all those who have worked hard for this event”.


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“We have turned Irbil from a run-down and shabby place into a little Dubai”

Iraqi Kurds, roughly estimated at five million, have stunningly rebuilt a dirt-poor and traumatised society from scratch since they gained their autonomy in 1991. This report at the BBC outlines progress in Iraqi Kurdistan – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21900576

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Snowballing support for recognising the Kurdish Genocide

Westminster MPs from the all-party parliamentary group together with British activists from the three main political parties and writers recently joined many others from across the world to attend the international conference on the Genocide in Erbil and the international civic ceremony in Halabja.

These 25th anniversary events also garnered valuable messages of support. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair sent his warm and full support and said that “Halabja was one of the world’s greatest crimes, the first time a Government used chemical weapons against a civilian population. It should always be remembered and marked.”

The official American message honored the victims of Halabja and the Anfal as part of US efforts to prevent future atrocities and help ensure that perpetrators of such crimes are held accountable.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan sent a very important message which saluted the KRG authorities for organizing the conference in Erbil and Halabja as “a testimony to the deep wound opened in the conscience of humanity that is still bleeding even after 25 years.”

He recalled how Turkey had received “Iraqi Kurdish brothers fleeing from the Halabja massacre with open arms, mobilising every resource at its disposal.” He added that Turkey will continue to work with utmost determination so that tragedies such as Halabja never happen again, and so that peace and brotherhood prevail in the region.

He cited massacres and bombardments by the murderous regime in Syria, and how Turkey has “opened its doors to the aggrieved Syrian people and embraced our Syrian brothers in its arms, as we did 25 years ago for our Kurdish brothers struggling for their lives under the oppression of Saddam.”

The message pointedly added that the peoples of the region should be ruled by “leaders who will not resort to cruelty or point guns at them, and that a culture of harmony, tolerance, coexistence and cooperation among different ethnic and sectarian groups prevails.” Baghdad and Syria should take note.

The UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, described Halabja as a terrible symbol of inhumanity. His Labour shadow Ian Lucas cited “the dreadful suffering of Iraqi Kurds” and said that we must remember always the attack and respect the loss of its victims which must remain “a continuing lesson for us all.”

Officers of the all-party group have tabled a Commons motion backing the decision of Burt and Lucas to work together and with KRG representatives to try to overcome legal obstacles and find a suitable pathway for recognition by the British Government.

The British Parliament’s official recognition of the Kurdish Genocide was highlighted in speeches by British MPs Nadhim Zahawi and Robert Halfon and seems to have put the continuing global campaign on a new footing. The British Parliament wasn’t the first in the field – that honour rightly lies with the Swedes and the Norwegians – but it is the first major Parliament to do so. This may have started what the Norwegian Deputy Speaker Akhtar Chaudrya told me is a “snowball effect” with parliamentarians elsewhere seeing the need to follow the North European example.

A member of the Scottish Parliament, Hanzala Malik, who was part of a previous all-party delegation, has already tabled a motion which urges the devolved Scottish Government to “consider what support it can give to a growing and global campaign to mark the Kurdish genocide and bring comfort to the people of the Kurdistan region in Iraq, which has many similarities to Scotland and whose people and society continue to suffer the devastating impact of the genocide.” There is a debate on Halabja in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Former French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner also pledged to help persuade the French National Assembly to follow the British example. There is also talk of the German Parliament embracing recognition.

The Iraqi Human Rights Minister also suggested at the Erbil conference that Iraq should ask the UN to set a day for worldwide commemoration of the Genocide. It would be highly symbolic for Baghdad to make that move.

I am no lawyer but acknowledge that there are legal complexities for governments. Important issues of reparations and prosecutions could flow from recognition by governments. But moral and political recognition also has many dividends.

If we don’t remember what happened in the past then it is more likely to happen again. The old slogan, often applied to the Holocaust and anti-fascist causes, is “Never Again.” It’s a fine sentiment but hollow if it doesn’t involve action in real time to prevent such events. The more countries that mark the Kurdish genocide, through parliaments, governments, towns, civic groups, school talks and visits the better. There is a handful of memorials in Britain. There should be more. The 25th anniversary of Halabja has helped develop an international momentum that puts the past Kurdish Genocide and the future of the Kurdish people firmly on the map.

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Dave Anderson MP outlines why world should have intervened against Saddam earlier

Ten years ago, I was utterly opposed to the invasion of Iraq. At the time I was President of Unison and sat on the TUC general council, so like a lot of others in the labour movement I did my bit to lobby against Western intervention, believing that the reasons given for invasion were not justified, that the argument about WMD was not proven and that inspections should have been given a chance to work.

But in the years since I have had to face new facts having been to Iraq to see things for myself. I now see that the international community should have toppled Saddam Hussein earlier, as my Kurdish comrades have told me in clear terms.

One benefit — one very close to my heart — of Saddam’s removal, was the re-emergence of a trade union movement which had been brutally suppressed by his regime. My union Unison decided to help workers by setting up a training scheme for shop stewards and I was really proud when we finally established a training school in Kurdistan in 2006.

Early in that year I joined a Labour Friends of Iraq delegation to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. I was struck by the attitude of the trade unionists: comrades and friends keen to develop their skills so that they could better stand up for working people.

The first thing that they said was, “We need your help. We need your Government to start investing in this country, because if they do not invest we will not have work, and without work we do not have a trade union movement.” That was a very simple equation.

The other thing they said, very clearly, was “We thank you, as a nation, for what you did for us in 1991, and we thank you even more for what you did for us in 2003, when you liberated us.” That was a shock for me. I saw 2003 as an invasion by an unwanted occupying power.

However, it was all very well for me, sitting in the comfort of Blaydon, to say that it was really, really wrong for the allied forces to invade. It was not me being wiped off the face of the earth by Saddam’s thugs. It was not my parents being buried alive. It was not my village being flattened.

It did not change my view that we invaded Iraq for the wrong reasons, but what became ever clearer to me was that we should have liberated Iraq many years earlier. If we had, we could have stopped genocide being unleashed against the Iraqi people.

In the 1980s, before Saddam overplayed his hand and invaded Kuwait, we were doing the bidding of Saddam Hussein by doing nothing to curb his murderous instincts. We sat on our hands, supporting Washington’s position, and watched while the Iranians and the Iraqis wiped out one million of their own citizens in their bloody, pointless eight-year war. And when Saddam, under the cover of war, launched a genocidal campaign against the Kurds, we ignored it. It was a price worth paying for Saddam to control the Ayatollah and his acolytes. Indeed, not only did we ignore such terrible bloodshed and repression, but we sold arms to both sides.

Many who have been to Kurdistan have, like me, visited the “Red House”, the torture chamber in the northern city of Sulaimani. It is a huge building in the main street. No attempt was made by the Baathist authorities to hide what went on there; indeed, every horror was documented in triplicate.

While I was there I saw some guards — Kurdish men — watching the trial of Saddam live on television. The juxtaposition was extraordinary — for those men, sitting in what had been one of Saddam’s torture chambers, the trial of the dictator being played out on the TV screen, this was life-changing: it would give them a chance to get their lives back. For people such as me who had not wanted this country to go into Iraq, it was a wake-up call that could not be ignored.

I visited villages where people saw their way of life terminated. Squads of Baathists snatched men from their homes and killed them. But they were not even give the quick death of a bullet in the brain; they were chucked in trenches and then bulldozers got to work, burying them alive.

I also visited a former concentration camp in Erbil. There we found the children and women who had been snatched from the countryside, once the bread basket of Iraq. All that they wanted to do was return home to their abandoned fields and farms. But they cannot because they know longer know how to farm — their fathers had been killed years before, so they have nobody to tell them how to do things.

A close friend of mine, Hangaw Khan, a Kurdish union leader, asked me to campaign to recognise the genocide against the Kurds — “in the name of our burned country, the pure pink blood of our genocide martyrs, buried alive innocent women and children, burned and drowned thousands Kurdish by chemical gas.”

His words should haunt all of us. The uncomfortable lesson I draw is that Britain could have stopped this. We, and the rest of the world, could have taken real action before Saddam’s genocide and repression became industrial. We could have, and should have, toppled Saddam years before we did.

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Energy, Federalism, the Constitution and Iraqi Unity

The great achievement of post-Saddam Iraq is its transition from a centralised and mainly Sunni dominated one-party rule to federalism and power-sharing between Sunnis, Kurds and Shia, and small minorities. All this is, or should be, governed by the constitution, approved by over 80% of the people in a referendum in 2005.

However, the constitution is largely ignored in Baghdad by a Prime Minister accruing authority through subterfuge by, for instance, appointing military commanders on a supposed temporary basis which bypasses parliamentary approval.

The health of power-sharing in Baghdad has worsened dramatically since American troops quit in December 2011, with Kurdish energy resources a main victim of the dysfunctional federal government in Baghdad.

Baghdad recently defaulted again on agreed payments for oil exports, which were halted. Baghdad’s sabotage of the Kurdish part of the Iraqi economy undermines Iraq’s unity and the constitution.

Baghdad repeatedly issues threats to cut the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) budget. There is even talk that Kurdistan should go its own way: “good riddance” as one senior member of the PM’s coalition put it recently. They should be careful what they wish for. Iraq as a whole would be immeasurably poorer without Kurdish political, cultural and economic contributions.

The Kurds are not planning independence but are determined to continue their economic miracle by exporting energy via new pipelines, with or without the consent of Baghdad and soon.

The current pipeline from Kirkuk-Ceyhan in Turkey should carry 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) but can only carry around 1.2 million bpd of light to medium and heavy crude. Yet the KRG expects to export at least 2 million bpd. Furthermore, exports from Kirkuk and surrounding fields could increase from around 400,000 to 1 million bpd. The northern corridor oil export capacity should be increased to 3 million bpd by constructing two new pipelines from the KRG direct to Ceyhan.

This infuriates Baghdad which claims that the KRG is acting illegally. Turkey fears that Baghdad’s threats to isolate the KRG and cut its budget will undermine stability and Iraqi unity. Autonomous Kurdish oil exports could make Baghdad reasonable. American policy could be decisive but is unclear.

The impasse is best resolved by returning to the 2005 constitution. Constitutions are dry documents but form the basis of transactions, not least given a history of caprice, centralisation and brutality in Iraq.

The constitution states that Iraq is a federal state, binding on all parts of Iraq. Baghdad’s refusal to implement proper power sharing, revenue sharing, and resolving the status of disputed territories undermine the constitution and Iraqi unity.

The constitution specifies Baghdad’s exclusive competences as: foreign policy; national security and defence policy; fiscal and customs policy; standards, weights and measures; citizenship and immigration; broadcasting and postal policies; budget; planning of waters flowing to Iraq; census and statistics. The constitution specifies that management of customs; generation and distribution of electric energy; environmental policy; development and planning policy; public health policy; educational policy; internal water resources policy are shared between federal and regional authorities.

The constitution recognises Kurdistan and its existing authorities. Its legislation, government decisions, court decisions and contracts enacted since 1992 are valid unless amended in Kurdistan or unless they contradict the constitution. Regional powers, outside defined federal roles, cannot be taken away without the approval of the concerned region’s legislature and a majority in a referendum.

The KRG can exercise all powers, particularly internal security, except for exclusively federal ones. It should receive an equitable share of national revenues. Federal law prevails on exclusive issues but regional law comes first on all others.

How does all this relate to oil and gas? The constitution stipulates that Baghdad, together with producing governorates and regional governments, undertakes the management of oil and gas from present fields. Crucially, they should together “formulate the necessary strategic policies to develop the oil and gas wealth in a way that achieves the highest benefit to the Iraqi people using the most advanced techniques of market principles and encouraging investment.”

In relation to energy “extracted from present fields,” Baghdad has a management role, with three important qualifications. Management is jointly undertaken. This role is limited to transportation, export and marketing. And revenues are fairly distributed.

This means that the operational management of extraction and production falls outside the federal role in any joint management. The clear inference is that present production includes fields developed in 2006, when the constitution begun.

But new finds are outside Baghdad’s control and for relevant governorates and regional government to manage. The KRG accepts that oil and gas are owned by all Iraqis but that they can determine how ownership is managed.

Baghdad has legislative authority and the constitution does not stipulate that contracts for present or future fields wait until strategic policies are agreed. Baghdad doesn’t have a constitutional veto.

The KRG can decide, subject to strategic policies jointly agreed with the federal government, on the terms and conditions for new fields. Baghdad has no such rights over new fields although Kurdistan could co-operate with the federal government.

Although the constitution gives Baghdad only a qualified right on transportation and marketing oil and gas extracted from present fields, the KRG has so far accepted a broader management role for Baghdad but may not do so in future without revenue sharing and a constitutionally correct hydrocarbons law.

This year will be one of reckoning for Iraq. Warmer relations between the Kurds and the Sunnis as well as between Kurdistan and Turkey illustrate that divisions can be overcome when economic self-interest and political will are combined.

Ancient strains and stresses are being exacerbated by the current PM. If the Iraqi Parliament’s decision to limit him to two terms is enacted, he will go in a year or so. That could allow Kurds, Shia, Sunni and small minorities, to make a federal Iraq work. The constitution is the country’s unity certificate and should be implemented.

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Interview with KRG UK Representative on British parliament’s recognition of Kurdish genocide

Last week the British parliament formally recognised the Kurdish genocide in Iraq. This follows a year-long petition campaign in the UK and lobbying within parliament by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Regional Government UK Representation initiated and coordinated the campaign. KRG.org asks Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG Representative to the UK, about the debate in parliament and to clarify what recognition means.

More here http://www.krg.org/a/d.aspx?s=010000&l=12&a=46823

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Statement by Prime Minister Barzani on recognition of Kurdish genocide by British parliament

February 28, 2013

Earlier today the British parliament held a debate on whether to recognise the crimes committed against the people of Kurdistan in Iraq as genocide. We are pleased not only that such a debate took place but also that the British parliament now formally recognises the Kurdish genocide.

This is an important milestone in our struggle for justice, recognition and compensation for the thousands of men, women and children who died at the hands of the former regime. It is a significant landmark for the survivors of the Anfal and chemical bombardment and for the children of those who were martyred as they try to rebuild their lives.

We thank all those who worked hard to make this debate take place: the thousands of Kurds in the UK and British friends of Kurdistan who signed a petition calling for acknowledgement of the genocide; the British members of parliament, especially the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region, who worked to secure the debate; and the KRG UK Representation who initiated this project and followed it through to its successful conclusion.

We also welcome the statement by the Middle East Minister Alistair Burt during the debate that the government will work with the opposition party to collectively find a way to do more on acknowledging the genocide even though the government does not formally recognise it.

The British parliament’s recognition of the genocide follows similar acknowledgements by the Norwegian and Swedish parliaments last year. We thank them all and hope that this will inspire our friends and friends of human rights and freedom in other countries to do the same. We must all stand together against tyranny, where ever it may appear.

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