Benjamin Lowy

EDITORIAL: IRAQ: Kurdistan

Situated on vast untapped oil fields, Kurdistan has the resources to become one of the most prosperous regions in the Middle East. As a major economic power in Iraq, Kurdistan has the lowest poverty rates and highest standard of living in Iraq. It is the most stable and secure region of Iraq where not a single coalition soldier or foreigner has been killed, wounded or kidnapped since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But local Kurdish leaders and the Iraqi governmet in Baghdad are in a deadlock over the rights of ownership, as the imminent announcement of contracts to begin pumping oil from the region cause ethnic tensions to rise.

A child rides a scooter in Sulaimaniya, Kurdistan, Iraq.
  
A Kurdish family gather atop a cliff for a Friday evening picnic.
  
Sulaimaniya, Kurdistan, Iraq
     
  
  
Men converse in a intellectual's teahouse in Sulaimaniya
  
Reflections are seen through a marketplace window.
     
  
  
  
     
  
  
Locals gather in Azadi, or Freedom park in Sulaimaniya.
  
A woman walk through an Arab refugee camp in Kurdistan.
     
  
Young Kurdish men cruise for dates in liberal Sulaimaniya.
  
Kurds protest during a political march against a proposed Iraqi government power sharing law.
  
Kurdish civilians flee after a 15 year old mentally handicapped suicide bomber detonated himself in the midst of a Kurdish political protest in Kirkuk.
     
  
A suicide bombing victim lies on the ground after an attack of a Kurdish political protest.
  
An Iraqi civilian, injured by a suicide bombing at a Kurdish protest march, in a Kirkuk area hospital.
  
A Turkish guard holds his head in his hands while surveying the burned remains of cars parked outside the Turkomen political offices in Kirkuk.
     
  
Female Kurdish Peshmerga fighters practice their formations and attack maneuvers at the Maskar Salam Base near Sulimaniya in Kurdistan, Iraq.
  
Female Kurdish Peshmerga fighters practice their formations and attack maneuvers at the Maskar Salam Base near Sulimaniya in Kurdistan, Iraq.
  
Along the Iran and Iraq border a kurdish smuggler unloads processed gasoline containers from Iran.
     
  
  
A shepard tends to his animals along the Iran Iraq border.
  
A Kurdish Asiash border soldier checks the luggage from an Iraqi civilian passenger bus entering Sulaimaniya.
     
  
A natural gas flare off rises above the off-limits Kirkuk oil pipe line.
  
People celebrate at a wedding in Kurdistan, Iraq.
  
A newly married Kurdish couple pose for a photograph.
     
  
A Kurdish family mourns the loss of their 15-year-old son who was shot during violent ethnic clashes in Kirkuk, Kurdistan,
  
Iraqi Kurdish policemen, under the apparent control of a plain-clothed Asiash officer, patrols the streets in Kirkuk.
  
Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers take part in a forced training march through a mountain pass in the Kane Sard region of Kurdistan.
     
  
  
Kurdish refugees are forced to live in squalor inside the Kirkuk soccer stadium in Kirkuk, Kurdistan, Iraq.
  
A man feeds his rooster before a cock fight in Sulaimaniya.
     
  
  
  
A man covers his face with his hands in Sulaimaniya, Kurdistan.