December 8th, 2011
10:35 AM GMT
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Erbil, northern Iraq (CNN) - In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, Erbil Citadel is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world.

More than 7,000 years old, it is a reminder of a timeless past in a fast-changing present. Beneath it, the city of Erbil is undergoing rapid development, with five-star hotels and luxury housing complexes joining its skyline.

Liberated from Saddam Hussein's persecution, Iraq's Kurds are in the midst of an economic boom. Oil rigs dot the hills and foreign companies are coming to Kurdistan enticed by the black gold beneath the land.

But the deals being cut by the Kurdistan regional government are not going down well with Iraq's central government, which says it alone has authority to sign lucrative oil and gas deals.

The Kurds’ response? Not any more.

“There is no way that we will be dissuaded from our constitutional right to developing our resources and allow ourselves to ever again become hostages to the whims of some bureaucrats in Baghdad," says Barham Salih, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

“We've been there before. Oil was used to strangle our people, to commit genocide,” he adds.

In the late 1980s Saddam Hussein led a vicious campaign against the Kurds, forcibly displacing them from their homes and replacing them with Arabs.

Entire villages were razed to the ground. Some, like Hajabja, were gassed with deadly chemical agents.

After the Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991, the United States and allies came to their aid with a no-fly zone to keep Iraqi forces out. Kurdish militia - known as Peshmerga - joined American troops during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Now the Kurds boast their region is "the other Iraq" - safe, peaceful, stable.

“I believe Kurdistan is now an important hub of economic activity, is an important market in its own right, but it is even more important when you think of it as a gateway to a larger Iraqi market,” says Salih.

“This is our vision.  We want Kurdistan to be the indispensable link to trade and commerce, economic cooperation among our neighbors.”

Part of that vision is the American University of Iraq, in Sulaimaniya, where Salih chairs the board of trustees. Its mission is to train the next generation of Kurdish talent.

Azzam Alwash, executive secretary of the board of trustees, says: “We want to expand (the) free market and we think that our students who graduate knowing English will be the raw material from which the oil companies, the accounting companies, the engineering companies, will recruit.”



soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. William

    Kurdistan is on it's way to an economic superpower among it's naighbors and i hope for a better feature for the Kurdish people!

    December 8, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  2. Bentley

    Sadly, neither Turkey nor Iran recognize Kurdistan as an autonomous region and if Kurdistan were to claim independence, these would the first countries to invade and occupy the region...

    December 8, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  3. Big Bush

    Kurdistan, a great country surrounded by obnoxious and greedy neigbours.

    December 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  4. eric

    @Big Bush, kurdistan is not a country

    December 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  5. KURD

    Well done Southern Kurdistan, I just want to make a correction for Azzam Alwash, do not forget mentioning Kurdistan, This is part long away driven away from Iraq. eric calling a Kurdistan state is sooner than you imagine :).

    December 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  6. dario

    Bentley, arrival of Exxon Mobil the biggest Oil company in the world, gives Kurdistan a great protection to Kurdistan from its vicious neighbours. Eric Kurdistan has and always remain a country of Kurds and other minorities but it is not a recognised state by the UN..but hopefully soon. so learn the difference.

    December 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  7. Arez Andaryari

    Kurds, one of the largest nations in the Middle East, And surely it will soon establish a national.
    Thank you
    Long live Kurdistan.

    December 8, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  8. Arez Andaryari

    Please see the broadcast reports from Kurdistan, thanks.

    December 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  9. Hadi Qubadi

    I feel a proud about Kurdistan, because its growing very fast and human rights is improving too. Kurdistan has great history it goes back to 8000 years ago, thats why I belive we should work for independency Kurdistan. Iran and Turiksh government have to accept that Kurds are one of the main natinos in the middle east and they have to accept the reallity and Kurds in these two countries will rise up some day and get to thier rights as Kurds do in Iraqi Kurdistan...

    December 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  10. chrisno(T)

    Erbil is 7000-8000 years old?? How can that be? We are told by highly confident sources that the world is only 6000 years old. I invite some enlightenment here.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  11. Alan

    Kurds have suffered and endured so much during their past, it is only FAIR that they become a regional power or state somewhere down the road.
    And on top, they will become a regional power, that is liberal, free of religious radicalism, and neighbour-friendly (although they have always been treated to the worst by their neighbours)...but it is not in their nature to not be kind and honest.
    The Kurdish people are a great people with an old and super-rich history...it is time, they get what they deserve. Freedom and the univesal right to exist.

    December 9, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  12. emir

    A country built upon foreign oil companies. I dont think thats freedom. Kurds need to wake up and stop trying to build a country over the blood of their muslim neighbours

    December 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  13. emir

    also funny that only the Eurpeans, USA and Israel call the region Kurdistan. friends say alot about u

    December 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  14. Semko

    @Eric, I creat the my own reality. Therfore you don-t exist. Your are ignerant and sadly this is the bigest cause of human suffering.

    December 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  15. Abdullah Gul

    Long Live Kurdistan
    black gold + money + excellent future + relax life = Kurdistan

    December 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  16. safa

    There is no country called Kurdistan.

    Long live Turkish people!

    December 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  17. Ahmed

    What bollox of a story, it was iran who gassed the kurds, and the only reason the kurds are able to do this is because they sell their smuggled oil at 35 USD a barrel when the price is over 100 USD, this is a deal cut by the US / Kurds / Turks !!!

    December 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  18. ihateiraniran

    Kurdistan, does not deserve to be a hub for anything. After last weeks mass terrorism on christians and yezidis in that region by a mob of muslim terrorists, the regional government showed that 1: it has not control over it's people. 2: if it did, then it has a hand in what happened. 3: both of the above. not mentioning the fact that kurds fought a bloody battle against each other in the 90's. This could only mean one thing. kurdistan must give full control to the central government in baghdad.

    December 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  19. 300KURDS

    LONG LIVE KURDISTAN FREEDOOM FOR OCALAN

    December 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  20. Dibgy

    I am in New Zealand and like history.
    I would like to see an Kurdish state, but I don't think there ever has been a Kurdish state in all of the 6,000 years, they seem to have been oprressed for all this time.
    But getting Turkey and Iran to go along will be a big ask,

    And what of the Armenians ?

    December 10, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  21. gliese42

    How many Kurds did Turkey killed or have them in prison? Turkey is also supporting Iran and that is one of reasons why sanctions doesn't work. Get Turkey out of NATO

    December 10, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  22. PeterG

    There isn't one prominent university in the U.S that has anything in their Ancient Middle East curriculum regarding kurds to having any sort of connection to any antiquities or any ancient people such as the Medes as you nationalist kurds want to believe. This isn't my opinion , but facts. It's what's taught and excepted by Academia . kurds today want to be heard how Turkey has suppressed them , but it was the kurds along with turks who committed the Genocide against the Armenians and other christians just 90 years ago. 500,000-600,000 Armenians were directly killed by kurds. NO kurdistan!

    December 10, 2011 at 5:47 am |
  23. ccc

    Kurds killed more than 300.000 armenians 100 years ago.
    Kurds kill innocent civilians with bombs, molotovs...
    Kurds are not educated, most of them still believes in honor killing and incest is very common among kurdish people.

    December 10, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  24. CCC

    as first, there is no where called "kurdistan". Kurdistan is a utopia for kurds that will never ever be realized. Also, We can not say that all the kurds are guilty and causing problems. most of innocent kurds live in TURKIYE. Unless another countries support the Terrorism activity, All kurds can lose their innocence. because of the AKP Government, Turkiye started to have really really great problems about Mid. East. R.T.E is not different from "remote controlled toy car".

    December 11, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  25. mehmet

    kurds are an uncivilized , feodal, rude nation. they can even kill their girls for their virginity.

    December 11, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  26. Alex

    There is no kurdistan region in the middle east. Thanx

    December 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  27. GeoffMY

    Its about time the kurds finally have their say in administering and managing their territory and oil wealth. in some ways or another, non-Kurds have to realise that they need to recognize the rights of the Kurds..Kurdistan is itself actually a country but being denied to exist and annexed by different countries like Iran, Iraq, Turkey etc

    December 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  28. John.

    I Have been to Kurdistan in Year 2003 2008 2009 and 2010 just to go see all i have to say look at trest Iraq and Kurdistan and See your self. kurdistan best friends are the mountains. and i notes on my trip turks or arabs or syriana or
    iranian dont like The Kurds. Put it this way saddam hussein could not Finsh The Kurds What make you this Guys can.

    December 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  29. John.

    See my self how the Kurds treat the Arabs who living in Kurdistan now and look back what Saddam did to the Kurds in the 80s

    Kurds are not educated, wow i would say there are more than arabs and truks and syriana or iranias

    December 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  30. Iraqi Man

    There was no Kurdistan. It was Mesopotamia. The Kurds are traitors and they have bloody history. No one likes them. They are the gypsies of the middle east. The destroyed Iraq and next it will be Turkey. They are unloyal people and liars...Just ask the Iraqis.

    December 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  31. jjjj

    Erbil rightly belongs to the Assyrian people!! Check your history

    December 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  32. desert voice

    Kurdistan deserves to become an independent nation. If South Sudan did it, why not the Kurds? I believe that the time has come for Ocalan to be freed the same way Nelson Mandela was. By the way, Nelson Mandea should himself ask the UN to free Ocalan! And so should all truly decent nations in the world!

    December 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  33. tibet

    Turks were very stronger in the past. They had the ottoman empire but when the french revolution began they lost pover because every nation wanted their fredom. we see them now all of them is suffering by the way the people you mantion about you must learn how they are I can tell you but trust me they are not good. Turk will always be there and wont give any ground because they are very strong and likely

    December 12, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  34. Alan

    It´s time to Kurdistan becomes independent, it´s time to USA says yes to independent Kurdistan. We all know if The United States Of America accepts Kurdistan as an independet country, nobody dare and say no, even the mongol turks will shake and say yes and if they don't say yes so it doesn't matter, who cares. Long live Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  35. Alan

    @Iraqi Man
    There were no Iraq and Turkey. There were Mesopotamia och Armenia. The arabs and turks are traitors, criminals and they have bloody history. No one likes them. The arabs and turks are the gypsies of the middle east. The destroyed Kurdistan, they killed innocent Armenians and kurds and next it will be Israel god forbid. They are unloyal people and liars...Just ask the Kurds, Assyrians and Armenians.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  36. muhammed okan

    today perhaps, turkey doesn't want a kurdistan, however, in the long term, a kurd state, that wants a strong economic cooperation between her neighbors, is the interest of Turkey, but not aid to terrorism. Already today, turks has make great investment to northern Iraq.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  37. ccc

    it was kurdish people who killed more than 200.000 armenian people during world war 1.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  38. John.

    Iraqi Man than Y HUNDRED OF THOUSANDS OF THOUSANDS ofArab families had fled their homes, And Run To Kurdistan doctors lawyers engineers Ect Come on go read more about Your Home Town. Kurdistan Is Going to Become Country And You Well Sell. As My Kurd Friend Said LONG LIVE KURDISTAN

    December 13, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  39. CryingArmenian

    Who can blame Kurds for getting rid of Armenians. At least they have common sense. The rest is a big dream.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  40. Kurdo

    @Iraqiman, there are thousands of Iraqi Arabs begging in kurdistan while the Kurds busy studying and developing the country. Kurds will never surrender to the Turks and Arabs. Some of you may say kurds are uneducated but remember Kurds have a distinctive language and they were forced to learn Arabic and Turkish.

    Long live Kurdistan.

    December 13, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  41. man united

    kurdistan have got money, oil and gas,,,,more than you imagine......let me make things easier.
    money changes your enemy and your direction and future...today politics is how much you have...so I see bright future for kurdistan...10 years from now, kurdistan not even a independent statem but best state in mid east.
    let me advise you guise, talking does not help you

    December 13, 2011 at 7:20 am |
  42. aurelius

    Let's back them to the hilt. That's our trump card in the area.

    December 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  43. CryingArmenian

    But Kurds killed sooooooo many Armenians

    December 14, 2011 at 4:53 am |
  44. Gordana Jahovic

    As other Middle East people, the Kurds are also suffering from dictators (Barzani & Talabani). Unfortunately, the Kurd Spring will be more brutal than Arab Spring.

    December 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  45. Aruna Rout

    Oh kittens yes. This is the one reason I was born.
    To find you, my long lost blogger soul-mate.

    July 4, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  46. Italop Sakaria

    One other issue is that if you are in a scenario where you do not possess a cosigner then you may really want to try to exhaust all of your federal funding options. You'll find many grants and other free college funding that will give you finances to aid with education expenses. Thanks a lot for the post.

    July 12, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  47. Bewar

    Turkish people stole the kurdish land in back of the world war's , turkish people were slaves of other countries , you cannot deny this , this is a fact , without the help of kurds they wouldnt be an indepedent country today and yet these idiot of turks decide to start fighting there OWN ancestors e.g kurds , dont deny where your from<3 – long live Kurds and turks

    July 29, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  48. icons archive

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    September 20, 2012 at 10:40 am |

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