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Kurdistan: The State That Cannot Be

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Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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The United States withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011 reopened the debate over whether to satisfy the Kurdish desire for independence from their Syrian, Iraqi, Turkish, and Iranian neighbors. Now, United States politicians are calling for Kurdish independence. Kurdish independence is a topic in the current Republican 2016 primary debates. For nearly 20 years, the US has enabled Kurdistan to grow into a viable state. The Kurds are capable of maintaining a military, controlling the Kurdish state territory, educating Kurdish children, and sustaining a Kurdish economy. Given these facts, the question is, would recognition of an independent contribute to regional stability The answer to the question of whether an independent Kurdistan will promote regional stability must address four formal requirements of international law. Among those requirements are a defined territory, a functioning government, and a capacity to enter into relations with the other states. The issue of whether recognition promotes regional stability involves determining whether the new state will have good relations with its neighbors and whether the state will be able to manage internal political conflicts. The answers to these questions can be found in the history of past attempts to create an independent Kurdistan, the history of Kurdish internal and external relations with the governments and peoples of the region, and in the record of the current Kurdish struggle against ISIL and actions of other regional states. The evidence provided by the history of the long Kurdish struggle for independence indicates there are serious obstacles to independence. Those obstacles are conspicuous to the regional history. Given the number of nations in which Kurds live, there is no available territory for a Kurdistan greater than the current semi-autonomous province in Iraq.

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