Chatham House: Independent thinking on international affairs

Reports and Papers

The Kurdish Policy Imperative

Briefing Paper
Gareth Stansfield, Robert Lowe and Hashem Ahmadzadeh, December 2007

  • Kurds have struggled for decades to mobilize and gain international attention. Now, for the first time, some Kurdish interests are converging with the regional designs of prominent members of the international community.
  • The consolidation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq is of huge importance. Kurds in Iraq now have an unprecedented opportunity to define their own future and influence other Kurds in the region.
  • Another Turkish incursion into Iraq is likely to be futile but the threat has been raised because of the poor state of Turkish-US relations, the tension between the AK Party and the Turkish military, and Turkish opposition to a successful KRG.
  • Kurdish political demands remain limited, but there has been a notable strengthening of Kurdish self-perception and aspirations at a mass level.
  • The intricate web of relationships between Kurds and regional states means that the future of the Middle East is closely tied to Kurdish futures.
  • Regional and Western policy-makers need to reappraise the role of the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey and how Kurds in Syria and Iran interact with their governments and are influenced by Kurdish developments in neighbouring states.
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