[Published here on November 3, 2014]
In recent years, a hard earned record for security and stability had gained the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq a reputation as a booming business center. Headlines splashed across magazines and newspapers comparing the growth of Erbil, the Kurdish region’s capital, to Dubai’s meteoric expansion. However, the summer of 2014 challenged that idea as a new phase of turbulence gripped the whole country. The onslaught of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, who have taken control of large swathes of the country and carved a bloody path towards Erbil and Baghdad, was a stark reminder to all that Kurdistan is not immune to trouble in the neighborhood. But like the glittering hyperbole surrounding the rise of Erbil, the doom and gloom painted since the rise of ISIS may also be overstated. The situation is far from stable, but investors, analysts and business people focusing on the area say it won’t push them out, and it certainly won’t derail Kurdish development.