Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Economy booming in Northern Iraq

In the place where Saddam Hussein headquartered the 5th Legion of the Iraqi Army there is a public park with tranquil gardens. Where Hussein murdered 180,000 people, including 5,000 in a chemical attack on the town of Halabja, there is now a booming economy.

Kevin Sites writes on the economic boom happening in Kurdish Northern Iraq:

Everywhere you look, building is under way. In downtown Erbil construction has begun on what is being promoted as the largest shopping mall in Iraq. Flights from cities like Frankfurt, Dubai and Amman now arrive at Erbil's newly opened international airport. Workers are busy expanding a highway that runs between Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

Large western-style residential developments are being created by the dozens with names like "Dream City," offering swimming pools and tennis courts -- all at western-style prices. At a shawarma restaurant in downtown Erbil, 26-year-old Sherwan Shekahani says business couldn't be better.

"I feel like people are paid better now. They have better salaries so they go out to eat more often," he says.

Of course, it can't all be good news. The economic boom has lead to some problems with corruption and with high inflation, but compared to what went before, such problems are insignificant.

Kurdish Iraqis know why they are enjoying their booming economy.

Junaid says the Americans need to stay.

"The day the Americans leave," he says, "on the next day the Arabs will attack us. When the Americans go we will go with them," he says, only half-jokingly.


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