Thoughts on Iraqi Kurdistan: Present Realities, Future Hope

in Iran and the Caucasus
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Abstract

The collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003 ushered Iraq into an era of unprecedented opportunity. The Kurds of Northern Iraq were given an opportunity to control their destiny in such a way not before encountered in their turbulent history. However, this moment has not been free of significant concern. Against the witness of history one can reasonably inquire as to whether or not the dominant Kurdish majority in Northern Iraq is able to seize this opportunity and make the most of it. Will they be able to break the historic cycle of internal dissension and unite to ensure the stability, prosperity, and security of their territory in Northern Iraq? Additionally, does Iraqi Kurdistan have the ability to adequately balance the often mutually exclusive demands it faces from powerful external actors? Clearly, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan must make their own choice in the matter. Nonetheless, outside forces must also help in the process by engaging with Kurdistan in Iraq in a positive and constructive manner. This will also go a long way toward securing and sustaining stability in this strategic area of the Near East. The article includes some thoughts about the current reality facing Iraqi Kurdistan, primarily as they relate to the KRG, together with some observations concerning the future hope for the region and its people. Some markers of Iraqi Kurdistan's progress are discussed not least of which is the status of its political development and freedom; economic health and growth; its fight against corruption; security within the KRG; its relations with Baghdad; and its external security situation, especially as it relates to Turkey, Syria, and Iran. These suggestions are based upon several recent trips by the author to Iraqi Kurdistan and from openly available source materials. However, these contemporary issues should be considered within their historical context. Therefore, the author gives also a summary review of some major historical events in the modern era leading up to the current situation in Northern Iraq.

Thoughts on Iraqi Kurdistan: Present Realities, Future Hope

in Iran and the Caucasus

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