Conflict and Fragility


The survival game: post-referendum politics in Iraqi Kurdistan

11 Oct 2017 - 11:42
Source: Feike Fliervoet

Visiting research fellow Feike Fliervoet was in Iraqi Kurdistan two weeks before the highly controversial independence referendum, conducting interviews with politicians, minority representatives, researchers, and civil society activists. In this op-ed she analyses the political developments in Iraqi Kurdistan after the referendum.

Though the independence referendum, organised by the Kurdistan Regional Government of September 25, 2017, was non-binding, the Iraqi Parliament declared the vote illegal, and obliged the government of Prime Minister Al-Abadi to take all necessary measures to preserve the unity of Iraq. The Kurds did not bulge – not to the threats from Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara, nor to pressure from Kurdistan’s closest international allies to postpone the vote. In a day filled with hope and euphoria, close to 93 percent of the Kurdistani electorate voted in favor of independence, with a turnout of 72 percent.

Two weeks later, the Iraqi government’s hostile post-referendum moves may seem to leave the Kurds with little reason for optimism. But in Kurdistan, resistance never comes as a surprise.

The full text of this opinion was published on on October 11, 2017.