Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Turkish investors leave n. Iraq in fear of Turkish incursion

(Azzaman) - Many Turkish investors are leaving northern Iraq in droves amid fears of a massive Turkish military operation into the Kurdish region to dislodge Turkish Kurdish rebels there. Turkish businessmen flocked to northern Iraq where Iraqi Kurds have set up a semi-independent enclave which is relatively quiet and peaceful in comparison to the rest of the country. And to lure foreign investors, the Kurdish administration has passed legislation that makes it easy and profitable to do business in the region.
Turkey has topped foreign investors, spending nearly $5 billion a year on a variety of projects. The influx of investments is visible in major urban centers such Dahouk, Arbil and Sulaimaniya. Kurdish authorities say nearly 10,000 Turkish workers have been involved in developing the region. Many of the reconstruction projects such as new roads, buildings and bridges have been done by Turkish contractors. Shops brim with Turkish goods particularly in Dahouk.
But analysts warn that the ‘Kurdish-Turkish business honey moon’ is coming to its end with Ankara warning of an imminent military campaign unless Turkish Kurdish rebels are forced to stop attacks. Residents in Arbil say they have noticed a drop in Turkish commodities in shops and a plunge in the numbers of visiting Turks.
A Turkish campaign is bound to destabilize the region and Kurdish leaders fear it may leave a power vacuum which al-Qaeda may rush to fill as it did with the central parts of Iraq. But Massoud Barzani, the President of the semi-independent Kurdish region has praised economic ties with Turkey, saying that “crises with Ankara will not affect bilateral cooperation.”

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