Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kurdistan's Success

Michael Totten has a very interesting report from Iraqi Kurdistan. This "country" is safe and seems on the path of prosperity. Take a look at his pictures of all the new buildings and developments. It seems to me one can interpret these new developments as suggesting the government of Kurdistan is providing the necessary conditions for economic prosperity. Totten points out that:

Kurdistan’s rise flips Iraq on its head. The Kurds are ahead, but they started from nothing. Under Saddam’s regime they had the worst of everything – the worst poverty, the worst underdevelopment, and worst of all they bore the brunt of the worst violence from Baghdad. 200,000 people were killed (out of less than four million) and 95 percent of the villages were completely destroyed.
With the old Iraq government 95% of the villages in Kurdistan had been destroyed. Now, we see signs of growing success and prosperity. Perhaps the following helps us explain these observations:
Iraqi Kurdistan is de-facto independent already. The three northernmost provinces exist as a liberal-democratic state-within-a-state with their own parliament, their own laws, their own immigration policies, and their own military, border guards, and police.
Here are some of the other things Totten reports about Kurdistan:
-- I have never seen so much construction going up so quickly anywhere.

-- Erbil isn’t pretty, as Paris and Vienna are pretty. Some of it is aesthetically brutal, and much of it is still rough around the edges. But it’s stimulating and interesting all the same. The go-go-go and build-build-build attitude is infectious. Every time I come here it looks cleaner, and richer, and more like a normal place.

-- I’m less prone to boredom here than I am in Europe’s splendid capitals even though there is little in the way of entertainment culture. Erbil is the most ramshackle of Iraqi Kurdistan’s cities, but there is real raw power rising in this city and land.

-- Arabs are moving up here from the center and south – when they can, and as long as they are cleared by internal security – and they’re hired to do menial jobs the Kurds no longer want. Sunni Arabs were once the oppressors of Kurds. Now they are reduced to the same low status as migrant Mexican workers in the United States.

-- A whole new town called “American Village” is under construction next to the luxurious Khan Zad hotel on the road between Erbil and the resort town of Salahadin. Foreigners and locals alike are snapping up the properties well in advance.
Wow, this sounds really good. Just think, there is a region of Iraq so successful that immigrants are moving there and many, including foreigners, are investing in property there.

You should read the entire piece, and don't dare miss the photos that show the reality of investment in Kurdistan.

I will leave one last tidbit that can thrill an economist's heart:
“You see this place now with its government, its democracy, and its system of laws,” my guide Hamid said. “It wasn’t like this even recently, believe me. Before, it was a jungle.”
There is great wisdom, it seems to me, in pointing to "its system of laws."

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