The Kurds of Iraq cannot be accused of impatience over exploiting their energy riches. Oil has been underground for millennia and as it bubbled to the surface was used in traditional medical treatments. But those who ruled Iraq neglected it, apart from the Kirkuk region which was forcibly taken from the Kurds...
The strategic importance of Iraq because of its central position between Syria, Iran, Jordan Saudi Arabia and Turkey cannot be underestimated. That is why it is essential to see the election of a moderate, non sectarian government in Baghdad, which could play a pivotal role in resolving conflict in the Middle East and ending the spiral of violence in Iraq itself.
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 the border without food or water. It was all pretty petty stuff but more serious dangers simmered. Just five years ago, 100,000 Turkish troops were poised on the border with the Kurdistan Region.
We're no longer the same UN. We're more and more in conflict zones. And we've taken certain decisions that mean we're no longer seen as neutral. The UN flag is now a target instead of a shield. That means we have to change how we go about things, because right now our colleagues and their families are paying too high a price.