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Will Oil Be Used as a Weapon Against the Kurdish People?

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One of the most famous captions of all time has been 'life is but a stage'. The stage has been set for the Kurdish Nation, a nation that has faced a tragic past, probing questions from first generation Kurds, in western civilisations, whether the future will be tragic too. The Kurds have been let down in the past through brutal dictatorial regimes that have included chemical warfare, mass graves and acts of severe degradation in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. Sadly, the stage is still alive for such acts to exist in certain regions.

As a result, in some regions, through local media propaganda and treatment, the Kurds have been made to feel inferior at an attempt to discard their identities. Singers such as Sivan Perwer attempted to counterpart this through patriotic songs to renew the Kurdish feeling around the word and used the tool of music to fight for the Kurdish Identity. On the other hand, Peshmerga forces also fought for the freedom of Kurdistan, and came from various families and tribes during the Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. However, it is important to highlight that their struggle was not just for an independent country. It was also for an independent heart, way of thinking and recognition as human beings. It was a rebellion against educational malnourishment and suppression of basic human rights, which included the right to live.

The struggle for liberty came from almost every Kurdish family that exists today, whether directly or indirectly. Every Kurd has a story about a near or distant relative that has lost their life for the Kurdish cause. Therefore, it is the right of every Kurd to be involved in the growth of the region and to challenge systems for the interest of the people. Today, there are pockets of the Kurdish Region that are still struggling for humanitarian independence, and there are pockets that are thriving. This raises a vital question; what steps are in place to ensure that the guardians of Kurdistan are held accountable for their actions, whether it is good or bad? Presently, there are no independent ad-hoc advisory committees or think tanks to the region, nor are there any that has involved first-generation Kurds.

In Iraq, the Kurdistan Region makes it no secret that there is an abundance of wealth. This must be supported, as it gives Kurdish people opportunities in the future to develop. However, to certify this, it means that there must be a system to ensure that the public purse is scrutinised publicly and accounted for by the guardians. The rhetoric of 'we recognise that we have flaws, and have made developments since what we were' does not wash anymore internationally and must be challenged diplomatically. The reality is that the region is now thriving, has a significant budget, and a talented pool of individuals that must be utilised to help growth.

As the region becomes more wealthy, will the people be let down with inadequate or lack of healthcare facilities, education and national regulations? Recently, it suffered from a cholera outbreak that could have been prevented if a healthy system of public health existed. The outbreak could have also been controlled better if international experts were sought to provide guidance to the local teams on the ground. As a nation, it is boasted that increasing the number of consulates is opening in the region, but are their services being utilised as effectively as they could be or is it just part of the smokescreen of the stage?

I agree that many more people are now living a high luxury life compared to the past. However, is the system robust enough to protect the average Kurd that struggle to get by on a daily basis. I feel that more could be done to the system to ensure equality and fairness as that is the reason why so many lives were lost throughout history. We do not want to see Kurdistan reminisce a Shakespearian play, nor do we want a failing system whereby the people could be used as bargaining chips. It must be ensured that levers are in place for strong foundations of education, technology and health to be cemented.

Every action has a reaction. The drilling for oil could lead to environmental consequences. There must be an independent environmental committee that can oversee impacts and make recommendations. There should be a mechanism whereby global companies such as ExonMobil to name one, who are drilling for oil, to ensure that they invest back in the community through conservation projects as part of corporate responsibilities. The KRG must facilitate this process diplomatically, and ensure that the communities' rights are not violated. Global companies should know better, and not fool the local average Kurd who may not have had the educational privileges provided in the international community. As Kurds, or foreign ambassadors of democracy, we have an ethical and humanitarian responsibility. Hence, the question that I raise is; have we done enough within our capacities to ensure that the people are not going to be tricked or misled of their rights?

To win the heart of the Kurdish nation, the KRG representatives must put themselves in the shoes of those that are disadvantaged of opportunities, rather than serve as a concierge. If that is not the case, then they do not portray a true representation of the Kurdish Nation. The international representatives must engage with the Kurdish diaspora through local projects, to ensure that no Kurd ever feels inferior again and that they are part of the development process. If Kurds are to be united, then this measure must be made as soon as possible.

Due to the oil explorations, the eyes of the world are finally on the region. The stage is in the hands of the custodians of the Kurdish people: the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Kurdish community have tolerated all types of abuse from dictatorial regimes for the development of Kurdistan. Therefore, their pleas must never be neglected or be told that they cannot be seen. It is now the responsibility of our representatives to negotiate a new chapter for the people, with the people and by the people.The stage has been set for the Kurdish Nation, a nation that has faced a tragic past, probing questions from first generation Kurds, in western civilisations, whether the future will be tragic too.