An Independent Kurdistan Would Impact Its Neighbors
Nov 14, 2016
This report examines the potential implications of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Specifically, the authors analyze the interests of three key regional neighbors — the Iraqi central government, Turkey, and Iran — and explore policies each actor may pursue in response to possible Kurdish independence under different scenarios.
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This report examines the potential implications for the region if the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq were at some point to declare its secession from Iraq. Specifically, the authors analyze the interests of three key regional neighbors — the Iraqi central government, Turkey, and Iran — and explore policies each actor may pursue in response to Kurdish independence. The authors discuss the possible responses of Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran under three different scenarios: a unilateral declaration of Kurdish independence that is broadly opposed by the region, a "last man standing" scenario in which the Iraqi state collapses and the Kurdistan Regional Government becomes an independent state, and a gradual estrangement between Erbil and Baghdad. The authors also consider how each of these scenarios could be influenced by a resurgence of Kurdish nationalism in which Kurdish populations in Iran, Turkey, or Syria not only support the establishment of a sovereign Kurdistan in northern Iraq, but even seek to join the new nation.
Iraq's Reaction to an Independent Kurdistan
Turkey's Reaction to an Independent Kurdistan
Iran's Reaction to an Independent Kurdistan
Funding for this study was provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND's contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers. The research was conducted within the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD) of the RAND Corporation.
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