Regional Implications of an Independent Kurdistan
RAND CORP ARLINGTON VA ARLINGTON United States
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In this report, we examine the potential regional implications of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Specifically, we analyze the interests of key three regional neighbors - the Iraqi central government, Turkey, and Iran - and explore policies each actor may pursue in response to Kurdish independence. However, we do not recommend an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq or anywhere else. The question of Kurdish independence has been raised-by academics, by third countries, and by Kurdish leaders themselves-since the Kurds established a semi-autonomous region in the wake of the first Gulf War. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Kurdish leaders worked diligently to maximize their control over affairs in the north, and tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government KRG in Erbil-particularly regarding the distribution of resources and control over oil and disputed territories-have led many Kurdish officials to take steps that further distance the KRG from the central Iraqi government. Kurdish officials have long complained that the KRG does not get its fair share of resources from Baghdad, and several senior Kurdish leaders have stated bluntly that independence is their eventual goal.