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29 2 The Relief Phase The 1990 Persian Gulf War and its subsequent aid programs rescaled the development trajectory of the Kurdistan Region. Foreign assistance targeted not only the sovereign Iraqi state but also the Kurds as victims of Saddam Hussein . International aid created a relatively stable environment that permitted economic recovery, rehabilitation, and institution building. It also offered the Kurdistan Region forms of recognition, external patronage, and internal sovereignty that encouraged quasi-statehood. During this period the Kurds conducted elections, created their own government, and engaged in civil society building. They also re-created map images of “Free Kurdistan.” These efforts at strengthening Kurdish autonomy, however, were checked by the nature of the aid program, which assured the territorial integrity of Iraq and not a self-sustaining Kurdistan Region. Political culture and domestic structural constraints also continued to frustrate long-term development, and in many instances, impeded external assistance programs. Highly dependent upon international aid, still isolated from world markets, and lacking mechanisms of integration, the only linkages that could be sustained with Baghdad were based on ongoing political distrust, illicit trade, and limited sociocultural exchanges. Protecting the Kurds In contrast to the prewar period, whereby the Kurdistan Region had no access to foreign assistance, the international aid regime that commenced after the Persian Gulf War offered Iraqi Kurds new forms of patronage and support. It reflected changes in international politics and the strategic interests of the first Bush administration (1989–93), the UN, and foreign governments, which centered on protecting world petroleum markets, preventing the spread of WMD in 30 | The Kurdish Quasi-State Iraq, and controlling the reckless political behavior of Saddam Hussein (Tripp 2007, 249–50). Humanitarian relief to the Kurds also was linked to larger transformations in the aid regime that challenged the notion of state sovereignty and focused on protecting local populations on human rights principles and demands for postconflict recovery. In particular, external aid to the Kurdistan Region was a direct response to the failed Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein in April 1991. The mass exodus of about two million Kurds to the mountainous regions of Turkey and Iran created a humanitarian crisis that stirred international pressure for foreign intervention . UN sanctions imposed against Iraq, Baghdad’s internal embargo against the Kurdistan Region, and Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian rule exacerbated the situation and caused increased hardship to local populations (Baram 2000, 20; Alnasrawi 2001, 205–18). With the approval of UNSCR 688, the three governorates in the Kurdistan Region gained international security protection in the form of a safe haven and no-fly zone, implemented by coalition forces as part of Operation Provide Comfort II (OPC) (Graham-Brown 1999, 105–11; McQueen 2005, 24–28). The coalition maintained a small military presence at the Military Coordination Center (MCC) in the border town of Zakho, serving as a liaison center for INGOs and the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), a branch of the USAID and leading donor agency the Kurdistan Region. Humanitarian aid also commenced en masse, replacing state welfare assistance and becoming the most important source of the region’s external finance. Given the impediments toward effective aid delivery in Saddam-controlled regions of central and southern Iraq, the needs of Kurdish refugees, and the relatively safe climate in the Kurdistan Region, aid revenues were skewed toward the Kurdish north. From 1991 to 1996 the Kurdistan Region received approximately two-thirds of total aid assistance, or over US$1 billion in goods and services (Natali 2007c, 1112–13; Carapico 2002; Graham-Brown 2002, 272; Stansfield 2003a, 52; USAID 2003). Other funds were provided as bilateral and multilateral assistance, the majority of which was allocated at the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991, earmarked for particular UN agencies or channeled through the OFDA. The British Overseas Development Administration, which became the Department for International Development, allocated 78 percent of its Iraq program budget to the northern region, and only 22 percent to southern and central Iraq. The UN, whose operations were based in Baghdad, spent 65 percent of its total The Relief Phase | 31 Iraqi funding in the Kurdistan Region (Graham-Brown 2002, 277). By 1994–95, after having refused to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Iraqi government, about fifty INGOs were working in the Kurdistan Region, while only four were established in southern and central Iraq (Graham-Brown 2002, 271–73). International assistance to willing aid recipients encouraged relative stability , economic recovery, and rehabilitation. Despite the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780815651215
Related ISBN
9780815632177
MARC Record
OCLC
759158727
Pages
186
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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