The Problem with Kurdish (in)Dependence in Iraq

Stream: Panel 76 - International Relations: Counter-insurgency 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 11.00 am – 12.30 pm


Following the collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of an Islamic State in Iraq and as-Sham (ISIS) onslaught in June 2014, the Kurds of Iraq have made increasingly loud noises vis-à-vis declaring an independent state on the territories controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Indeed, Iraqi Kurds would overwhelmingly vote for independence in any referendum proposed by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. Whilst the central government in Baghdad seems, at present, relatively powerless to stop such an eventuality given the disintegration of the Iraqi polity, there are a variety of other reasons why an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq is some way off. Specifically, this paper will discuss the problems that Iraqi Kurds will need to overcome in order to become an independent sovereign state namely: economic and security dependency - namely the free-fall of the price of oil, the ongoing ISIS crisis, and conflict with Baghdad - (a lack of) foreign support, the fact that the KRG is a landlocked territory, and the status of other Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Syria. The author will also share some ethnographic insights obtained while working as a lecturer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in 2013-2014.


Tristan Dunning (Presenter), University of Queensland
Dr Tristan Dunning has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Queensland. He is the author of Hamas, Jihad and Popular Legitimacy: Reinterpreting Resistance in Palestine published in Routledge's Critical Terrorism Studies Series in February 2016, based on extensive fieldwork in Palestine and the wider Levant. He has lived, worked and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East including Palestine, the Kurdish Region of Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Israel, and the UAE. His research interests focus on critical approaches to national and Islamist political movements in the Middle East region.