Foreign Policy Concepts Editorial
This month’s referendum on independence in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region can be viewed as a development impregnated with crises. Barely fresh from the defeat of ISIS, Iraq’s Kurdish leadership are betting on a long-standing aspiration that is, unfortunately, fraught with geopolitical and geostrategic challenges. The planned referendum is fiercely opposed by two regional powers: Iran and Turkey. Also, as it stands, it is against the Iraqi constitution, which was written and ratified after Saddam’s fall by the country’s all ethnic and religious groups, including the Kurds. Geostrategically, an independent Kurdistan would be utterly land-locked with no ability to export and import goods and services to and from any of its decidedly hostile neighbors.
In a fast emerging post-Daesh (ISIS) regional order, a Kurdish referendum could spell, first and foremost, one thing: instability. There are regional states, mainly Israel and Saudi Arabia, which view the emergence of an independent Kurdish state as an opportunity to weaken Iran and dampen its geopolitical aspirations. Now, in this emerging regional challenge a $64,000 question remains to be answered by the Kurds. And that question is: In the face of the ferocious opposition to our independence, how do we want to do trade with the outside world?