La Tribune – Iraq, focal point for development amid a Middle East in tension

File photo (Ennolenze/CC BY-SA 4.0)

In an opinion piece published in La Tribune, Gérard Vespierre argues that amid a period of high tension in the Middle East, Iraq remains a strategically important hub – economically, politically and militarily. Vespierre claims that France in particular understands the significance of Iraq to the region, and has expanded efforts to strengthen ties between the two countries. But despite this spirit of political and economic cooperation, Vespierre argues, an ongoing investment dispute between French telecoms company Orange and Iraqi Kurdish company Korek Telecom – owned by the Kurdish president’s cousin, Sirwan Barzani – threatens to undermine the international credibility of both Iraqi Kurdistan and the country more broadly. Sirwan Barzani’s refusal to obey the $1.6 billion arbitration award issued against him and Korek puts the Barzani clan’s reputation and the attractiveness of the Kurdistan Region as an investment destination at stake, according to Vespierre.