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Iraq and its regions: the future of the Kurdistan region of Iraq after the referendum

Middle East Centre (2018) Iraq and its regions: the future of the Kurdistan region of Iraq after the referendum. . LSE Middle East Centre, London, UK.

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Despite huge Iraqi, regional and international opposition, Masoud Barzani, then President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), went ahead with an independence referendum on 25 September 2017. The overwhelming vote in favour preceded a disastrous aftermath, with the KRI losing the territorial gains made during the fight against Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and Barzani announcing his resignation. Iraq imposed a blockade on international flights to and from the KRI, sent troops into Kirkuk, and withheld public salaries and oil revenues. The KRI’s internal political divisions deepened, protests around salaries and corrupt patronage networks intensified, tensions within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) mounted and the economic crisis worsened – any chances of realising Kurdish independence now appear remote. The post-referendum crisis showed the severity of Baghdad and Erbil’s outstanding issues: territorial disputes, distribution of the federal budget and the ownership and sale of oil. 2018’s federal and KRI elections have rendered any political solution fraught as leaders on both sides scramble to appear strong to their constituencies. The shifting positions of regional and international actors, including Iran, Turkey, Russia and the United States (US), further complicate any likely resolution. The LSE Middle East Centre convened a workshop on 16 March 2018, bringing together Kurdish political, economic and social analysts with other experts on Iraq and the KRI. The workshop examined the major dynamics that will shape Kurdish politics in Iraq, and the report that follows is a summary of the proceedings of the day’s four sessions. The first examined the history of protest in the KRI, and the circumstances under which it has arisen. The second focused on state–society relations in the KRI, looking at service delivery, democratic mechanisms and the government’s repressive apparatus. The third looked at the KRI’s political economy, with a focus on the oil sector and the public payroll. The final panel discussed the KRI’s international relations and the regional fallout in the wake of the referendum.

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 LSE Middle East Centre
Divisions: Middle East Centre
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Research centres and groups > Middle East Centre
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2018 09:57
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2020 23:17

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