Gary Kent
Gary Kent, who has worked in Parliament for 25 years, is the Administrator of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Entries by Gary Kent

Ringing the Changes in Anglo-Kurdish Relations

(0) Comments | Posted 14 April 2014 | (17:32)

The recent civic commemoration in Westminster of the 26th anniversary of Anfal may come to be seen as a milestone in Anglo-Kurdish links thanks to the British Government's decision to send a minister to the event for the first time.

The enthusiastic participation in the Anfal ceremony of the British...

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Soft Power and the UK

(0) Comments | Posted 1 April 2014 | (09:27)

A report on British foreign policy priorities released last week by a committee of senior members of the Lords won wide media coverage. This was mainly because David Howell, a former Energy Minister and the Committee's Chair, said that some of the UK's immigration policy was "creating a nasty Britain...

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Remembering Halabja and Boosting the Kurdish Diaspora

(0) Comments | Posted 18 March 2014 | (09:16)

Several MPs referred favourably to Ukrainian communities and organisations in their constituencies in a recent Commons debate on Russian actions against Ukraine. Such links with voters, who may be seen as newsworthy locally and electorally important, makes MPs more attentive.

It illustrates that foreign policy is not only made by...

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New Foreign Affairs Select Committee Inquiry Into the Kurdistan Region

(0) Comments | Posted 5 March 2014 | (09:47)

The decision by the influential Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the British Parliament to initiate an in-depth and comprehensive inquiry into all aspects of the Kurdistan Region is a triumph for all those who have long argued for the need to increase understanding between the UK and the Kurdistan Region....

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Three Conservative Contributions to Discussion of British Foreign Policy

(0) Comments | Posted 11 February 2014 | (09:46)

The House of Commons comprises 650 individuals who encompass the incompetent, weak, and dishonourable as well as the principled, visionary and effective just as much as any other walk of life. In earlier days, I was too ready to see the worst in my opponents and the best on my...

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Visas and Cultivating UK Links With the Kurdistan Region?

(0) Comments | Posted 3 February 2014 | (11:47)

One of the most persistent points made by government officials, business people and others we have met on our parliamentary delegations to Kurdistan in the last six years has been the British visa system.

We have heard constant complaints from people who had to travel to Amman or Baghdad...

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Successful Commons Debate on UK Relations With the Kurdistan Region

(0) Comments | Posted 18 January 2014 | (10:57)

The Commons, for the second time in a year, returned last week to debating the Kurdistan Region and, specifically, British relations with it. This is very unusual given that Kurdistan is a faraway place of which most British people are unaware. Such debates can change that.

All-party parliamentary group members...

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High-Profile Parliamentary Debate on UK Relations With the Kurdistan Region

(0) Comments | Posted 10 January 2014 | (10:04)

British ignorance of and even an element of wariness towards the Kurdistan Region have been replaced in recent years by a growing recognition of its potential by MPs and Ministers alike.

The latest sign of this changed approach to the Kurdistan Region is that MPs have secured the second major...

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Pipeline Politics and Benefits to Europe and the UK

(0) Comments | Posted 10 December 2013 | (20:09)

Last week's large Oil and Gas conference in Erbil, which I attended, marked the probably inexorable progress of the Kurdistan Region to economic independence and better and more reliable relationships with the rest of Iraq and with Turkey.

It was the such third conference which usually showcase a big announcement...

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Where Will the Geneva Deal With Iran Lead?

(0) Comments | Posted 30 November 2013 | (17:51)

The British hero of the diplomatic breakthrough with Iran was seen by many as the European Union's foreign affairs and security supremo, Cathy Ashton, who had been derided by some as a lightweight.

As it happens, Ashton was my boss when I worked at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in...

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Ankara-Erbil Relations Rare Bright Spot in the Middle East

(0) Comments | Posted 25 November 2013 | (08:22)

When I began visiting the Kurdistan Region in 2006, one big issue was how best to deal with its awkward neighbour, Turkey. We heard stories of people finding it difficult to cross the border. One trade union delegation, delivering a fire engine to Erbil, was delayed for a day at...

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Looking Back in Anger: The Plight of the Syrian Refugees

(0) Comments | Posted 20 November 2013 | (16:47)

Last week I visited the Domiz refugee camp for the third time in six months and saw many children at school and play. Once again, I was struck by their cheeriness and resilience. I wanted to find some of the children I met in June but the camp has mushroomed...

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Lessons from the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly

(0) Comments | Posted 31 October 2013 | (11:45)

Ireland gained its independence and was partitioned, with Northern Ireland remaining within the United Kingdom, at about the same time as the Kurds were incorporated into modern Iraq nearly a century ago.

For several decades, the UK pretty much ignored Northern Ireland and Ireland went its own way. What is...

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Kurdish Questions at the Party Conferences

(0) Comments | Posted 7 October 2013 | (10:02)

The annual British political party conferences and the leaders' keynote speeches this year were mainly concerned with domestic matters which isn't surprising given the increasing intensity of electoral competition in the long run-up to the general election in May 2015.

Foreign relations figured a little though. The Labour Leader's speech...

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Learning the Wrong Lessons From Iraq in Syria

(0) Comments | Posted 29 September 2013 | (11:21)

Controversy about British participation in an exemplary strike against Assad rumbles on. Last month, President Obama, David Cameron and President Hollande united because, as the French Socialist said, "the chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished. Otherwise it would be taking the risk of an escalation that...

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A Case for Intervention in Syria

(0) Comments | Posted 23 August 2013 | (16:15)

Given that about 130,000 people have died in Syria over the last two years, there is something superficially galling about the focus on the recent deaths of about 1300 people in a chemical weapons attack in Damascus.

The feasibility of intervention was greater two years ago. I know that...

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The Kurdish Revival?

(0) Comments | Posted 22 August 2013 | (09:58)

Twenty two years ago, many thousands of Iraqi Kurds fled to the mountains to escape the wrath of Saddam Hussein. Some of the stories of survival take your breath away. One father and his two daughters climbed a high mountain where their dilemma was simple: stay and freeze or return...

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Pause for Calm Not a Power-Grab in Iraqi Kurdistan

(0) Comments | Posted 29 July 2013 | (12:54)

MPs at Westminster have been lobbied about the decision of the Kurdish Parliament to postpone the planned presidential election and extend the term of the current presidency for up to two years. This understandably prompts concerns about a power grab that would reverse everything that Kurdish leaders have voluntarily embraced...

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Overcoming the Past in Iraqi Kurdistan Through Reform

(0) Comments | Posted 25 July 2013 | (10:12)

The external environment for the Iraqi Kurds is better than for decades. My main fear is that if anyone can defeat the Kurds, it will be the Kurds. They could be their own worst enemies.

They could, despite their best intentions, slump into being just another rentier state without...

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Iraqi Kurds: From Object to Subject of History

(0) Comments | Posted 24 July 2013 | (09:30)

It sometimes seems that Iraqi Kurds have no word with the urgency of manana but it hasn't stopped Iraqi Kurdistan making tremendous strides in a few short years. The best start date for their renaissance is 2006, the first full year of the new Iraqi constitution, agreed by the people...

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