This is an interesting case, not least of all because it’s often said that the Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without their own state. Although they were promised the prospect of their own country under the Treaty of Sevres, at the end of the First World War, the agreement was never in fact implemented.

Instead, the territory was divided between Turkey and Iraq. In the century since then, the campaign for Kurdish independence has continued. In Turkey, the Kurdish Workers Party, the PKK, has waged a guerrilla campaign for over a quarter of a century.

However, the main focus has been on Iraq. In 1991, following the first Gulf War, the Kurds in northern Iraq established their own autonomous region, which soon came to be seen as an independent state in waiting.

This changed in 2003 with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The United States and other key actors wanted to keep Iraq united; albeit retaining Kurdish autonomy.

Nevertheless, on 25 September 2017, and despite strong objections from the Iraqi Government, the Kurdish Government organized a referendum on statehood.

With a 72% turnout, 92.73% supported independence. While many expected a declaration of independence, following considerable pressure from regional actors and key international partners, and a military campaign by the Iraqi Government, just three weeks later the Kurdish leadership announced that the results of the referendum had been frozen.

As things stand, it’s unclear when, rather than if, another push for independence will occur.

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