Iraq and its Kurdish 'State': Dream On

For half a century the Kurds of Iraq have struggled for their national rights, but failed to secure them. Ironically, since 1991 the international pariah status of the present Baghdad regime has brought them remarkable independence and prosperity. But change in Iraq could challenge this. The danger is that Kurdish nationalism may also draw neighbouring states into a wider conflagration.

The World Today Published 1 February 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 5 minute READ

Professor Gareth Stansfield

Professor of Middle East Politics, University of Exeter

Change is looming for Iraqi Kurdistan. after enjoying de facto statehood for over a decade, regime change in Baghdad would fundamentally alter the status quo. Will the Kurds preserve their entity and continue to enjoy heightened influence in the affairs of Iraq, or will they lose their autonomy and become the provincial concern of a new Iraqi government? The Kurds have much to gain from this situation, but more to lose.

In many respects, Kurdistan is a separate country from Iraq proper. For the past decade, the political development of the region has been influenced by a different set of factors and its economic characteristics are now distinctly more favourable. Its leaders are recognised, even if informally, by the international community. These advances have been hard won, and they will not be relinquished lightly.

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