Supporting emerging democracy in northern Iraq

On 13th and 14th of September 2011 Fabian paid a lightning visit to Erbil in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq with two other parliamentarians, Daniel Kawczyinski the MP for Shrewsbury and John Bennett, formerly a Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh. They attended a workshop on Transparency and Accountability that had been arranged for members of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Shown left to right: The Kurdistan Parliament Secretary, Jaafar Khidir (WFD organiser in Kurdistan) John Barratt MP, Fabian and Ahmed (assistant to J Khidir)

Map of northern Iraq showing Erbil (Arbil)

The Kurdistan Regional Government based in Erbil (also spelt at Irbil or Arbil) located some 50 miles east of Mosul, is a democratic institution that has been established in the aftermath of the Iraq war that deposed the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. It comprises some 115 elected members of which half are women. About one third of the members attended the workshop which Fabian chaired on the first day that he was present.

Fabian with the UK delegation and members of the Kurdish Regional Parliament

Women members (mostly) of the Kurdish Regional Parliament

Travel for the visit was funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, an organisation supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that works to achieve sustainable political change in emerging democracies. All costs in Iraq were met by the Regional Government. Fabian was invited to represent his side of the House of Commons by Rosie Winterton MP, the Labour Chief Whip. He accepted the invitation as he felt that, particularly in the aftermath of the war that Fabian opposed so strongly, it was important for the UK to share its knowledge and experience to help build democracy in Iraq, a country where it has been missing for so long. Fabian believes that it is vital that all sections of the Iraqi community learn how to enjoy political freedom particularly those living in the Kurdish region who were so brutally treated by the old Hussein regime.

More pictures from Kurdistan workshop

Entrance to Kurdistan regional parliament building

Fabian chairs the democracy workshop

UK delegation to Irbil

Fabian looks up to Daniel Kawczyinski MP for Shrewsbury

On the steps of the Kurdistan Parliament

Traditional regional assembly guard