Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Login

Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using
 

Email

 

Rudaw

Opinion

Window on Westminster

By GARY KENT 11/4/2014
column
column

This week's civic commemoration in Westminster of the 26th anniversary of Anfal may come to be seen as a milestone in Anglo-Kurdish links thanks to the British Government's decision to send a minister to the event for the first time.

The enthusiastic participation in the Anfal ceremony of the British Government's Middle East Minister, Hugh Robertson - alongside KRG Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa - lends great credibility to the common cause of remembering this most horrific chain of events.

True, the Government doesn't formally recognise the genocide, as the Commons did last year, but clearly acknowledges the suffering of the Kurds more prominently than before. The battle for recognition goes on and such gatherings can generate further pressure on the Government to do so.

Taban Shoresh movingly described how, in the name of a "perverted ideology," Saddam's goons came for her Peshmerga father but when they found he wasn't there, decided to take her, her brother, mother and grandparents away to be buried alive. The kindness of two strangers allowed them to escape miraculously with their lives.

Such powerful testimony is essential to the world understanding the sheer scale of what the Kurds endured and why they should never be abandoned again, as they were at the time of Halabja in 1988.

Baroness Nicholson reminded us that international conventions about chemical weapons and genocide required international action but were sidelined when Saddam - a "cowardly narcissist" according to the Iraqi Ambassador Faik Nerweyi - carried out the genocide. She said that "we had the knowledge, the law and didn't act and I feel humiliated before you."

The Co-Chair of the all-party group, Meg Munn MP clearly reiterated her criticism of the failure of the British Parliament to endorse action when Assad used chemical weapons last year. She asked if we would be similarly marking the slaughter of the Syrian people in ten years while realising that we had failed to protect them.

The point of marking genocides is to make sure that such events never happen again. But they do. Meg's profound moral point about Syria highlighted how Assad could cross the red line of using chemical weapons with impunity and stay in power to do his worst.

Tony Blair separately argued this week that failure to intervene in Syria would have "terrible" consequences for years because inaction is also an action. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG's High Representative to the UK, told the Anfal event that failing to tackle dictators only emboldens their greed and violence. She praised Kurdish campaigners for their work over decades in challenging Saddam.

Robertson has direct experience of the dark days of the early 1990s when he was a tank commander in the first gulf war, which led to Britain promoting the safe haven in and no-fly zone over the Kurdistan Region. That decision saved the Kurds and did much, belatedly, to redeem Britain's moral standing.

Marking Anfal and Halabja informs new audiences who only know Iraq through the 2003 invasion but also raises awareness of modern Kurdistan. I was struck by Robertson's passion about relations between the UK and the Kurdistan Region, which he said have never been stronger and where is "much more to come."

It wasn't so long since upholding a "one Iraq" policy would have forced foreign policy officials to run a country mile from engaging with Erbil. I wish we had more quickly abandoned the pointless view that good relations with Erbil would offend Baghdad and Basra.

Well, those days are going. Ministers and officials now have a more realistic approach that deals directly with the KRG and in detail about how to improve visas, secure direct flights and other practical measures. The UK is seen by the KRG as a partner of choice and now more and more Brits realise that this has to be a two-way street.

The Kurdistan Region has now won many more sympathisers who better understand the shadow of the past over Kurdistan. This surely means understanding the continued existence of an Arab chauvinism that seeks to subordinate the Kurds. And it should help sustain Erbil's refusal to accept that Baghdad should control the destiny of the Kurds.

The next stage of the new conversation between Kurds and Brits is the inquiry by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee into our relations. They will take evidence in writing and person, including Robertson, and may visit the Kurdistan Region in the coming months. My best guess is that they will issue a report in the summer, which will be taken seriously by the Government in further finessing its policy on the Kurdistan Region.

This new combination of better understanding the past and endorsing measures to assist Brits seeking links with Kurds can dynamise the relationship. Finally.

* Gary Kent is the administrator of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). He writes this column for Rudaw in a personal capacity. 

Comments

 
Muraz Adzhoev | 11/4/2014
That is really true and very fortunate fact: "The UK is seen by the KRG as a partner of choice and now more and more Brits realise that this has to be a two-way street" Let's go further on and acknowledge that "Erbil's refusal to accept that Baghdad should control the destiny of the Kurds" should naturally lead to the legal declaration of independence of South Kurdistan, either in Confederal Iraq or out of pseudo Federal Iraq, according to the will of the native regional people, the current Constitution and the international law.
Tags :
5566 Views

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Peace | 10/17/2017 2:37:47 AM
Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey are just corrupt and evil alliances against the Kurdistan. These four countries are the most corrupt and violent...
Sad truth | 10/17/2017 3:37:11 AM
After all the self hype and trash talking, this is all the Kurdish leadership has to offer? Ask for a fight, make threats and run?? Wow! Took a page...
LIVE: Iraqi forces take Kirkuk, lower Kurdistan flag
| 9 hours ago | (69)
Help the Ezidis | 10/11/2017 4:59:32 PM
Heartbreaking these children and prays.
petchey | 10/17/2017 3:14:14 AM
heart broken....... long live the kurds. peace be with you all
Yezidi children rescued from ISIS pray for freedom for their families
| 11/10/2017 | (2)
Victor | 10/16/2017 9:59:43 PM
@dutchnational. Why should PYD cooperate with "krg " and "president" barzani, when closed the borders with rojava, and denied them medics and food ...
duroi | 10/17/2017 2:24:16 AM
KRG could have cut off the Tigris river waters, but it has failed to do it. Baghdad is dependent on Tigris water for everything. It cannot even...
Official: Opening new border-crossing gate between Iraq, Turkey 'impossible'
| yesterday at 11:00 | (5)
MALCOLM | 10/14/2017 5:08:37 PM
Dear Kurds, I heard the news on the BBC this morning. what a dreadful thing it would be to attempt to rob you of Kirkuk - a significant part of your...
Lorenzo | 10/17/2017 1:45:12 AM
They came they saw they conquered. The Spartans of Iraq.
Peshmerga, civilians alike defending Kirkuk from Iraqi and Shiite troops
| 14/10/2017 | (8)
0.328 seconds