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Kurdistan’s referendum, what next?

Sep 24,2017 - Last updated at Sep 24,2017

The recent call for an independence referendum among Kurds has, unsurprisingly, triggered conflict between supporters for and opponents to independence.

The debate is not new; steps towards independence was taken in 2014, but were abandoned due to a deterioration of the security environment due to the rise of Daesh.

In order to understand the opposition, a regional perspective is required.

There is concern that Kurdish independence could trigger other regional independence movements and calls for greater separation within some states in the region.

It is interesting to consider why this might be a risk, and much of it comes down to the fact that the modern borders of the region are not drawn along ethnic or tribal lines, but were rather arbitrary post-war allocations.

Beyond this, it is the failure, across the region, to build successful modern states with strong national identities based on stable internal security.

Without this, people seek comfort and security in religion and the smallest possible ethnic or tribal groupings.

On the other hand, there is a legitimate case to make for independence in Kurdistan: the right of people to choose their form of government through a fundamentally democratic process like a referendum, coupled with Iraq’s failure to develop a unified national identity, sectarianism and the political exploitation in Iraq.

In order to build a strong internal unity, leaders must focus on social justice, reasonable distribution of wealth, law enforcement and real security, equality, justice, respect for human dignity, pluralism and other liberties.

These key ingredients are missing from most of the countries in the region, which suffered through waves of sectarian propaganda and violence over the last generation.

Civil wars solidified psychological and cultural divisions, which are natural precursors to geographical division. 

Should Kurdistan achieve independence, we are likely to see more extensive calls for separation in the region.

As such, we are seeing a lot of opposition to the referendum from the established hegemony, which fears a diluting of its influence and power and is concerned about being distracted from fighting Daesh. 

As such, we may see a push to delay the referendum until there is greater regional stability and security.

Besides the Iraqi government, the two major countries opposing the step are Iran and Turkey. The last two see the Kurdish move as a risk to their integrity, due to its potential to stir other independence movements and the resulting ethnic and social shift amongst their populations.

Their opposition is political and based on the interests of the governments and those in power, rather than on what is best for the people

As unlikely as it may be, should opposition escalate to the point of military intervention, the desire for independence is unlikely to be quashed, as it is borne of structural issues and would likely trigger UN support for a new state.

War and threats are unlikely to end sectarian, ethnic, religious and geographic disputes that we are seeing across the region. However, a revision of our model for states and national identity could assuage much of the tension. 

Transparency, political inclusivity and fostering a sense of belonging are far more powerful.


Applying these virtues to the role of the state and the citizen-state interactions would be far more effective in avoiding the separations that we are likely to begin seeing across our region.

384 users have voted.


Cunning Pro-Zionist article alright! Sick!

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