Iraqi Kurdistan: Emergent Democracy

Iraqi Kurdistan: Emergent Democracy

Iraqi Kurdistan: Emergent Democracy

Iraqi Kurdistan: Emergent Democracy


In this groundbreaking study, Stansfield identifies the principal dynamics of Iraqi Kurdish politics and analyzes the record and potential of the "Kurdish democratic experiment."


Kurdistan is neither a politically defined entity nor a state but an area of some 191,600km straddling the boundaries of several countries, notably Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Within the area are some twenty-five million ethnic Kurds and globally, the Kurds probably represent the largest nation in the world to have been denied an independent state. For most of the twentieth century, the Kurds have fought to obtain greater autonomy within their different states, while retaining the ultimate vision of an independent Kurdistan. However, the problems they face differ from state to state and they have been unable to develop a cohesive approach.

Within the area, Iraqi Kurdistan has for more than ten years acted as a de facto state. Located at the crossroads of the world, it is of compelling geopolitical interest and constitutes a key global flashpoint. It is surrounded by states which are actually or potentially hostile: Syria, Turkey, Iran and the remainder of Iraq. However, as a landlocked territory it is dependent upon the goodwill of neighbours for its communication system. It remains part of Iraq and is located on the headwaters of the major rivers but it is ethnically distinct.

The political situation is as fascinating as the geographical. The government, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), comprises two units which are totally separate both politically and geographically. Furthermore, each represents one party. Thus, government and party in Iraqi Kurdistan are synonymous. The two key parties: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the west and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the east have developed differently and have distinctive regional linkages. Following bouts of interfactional fighting, the two parties have developed a divided system of government since 1996 and, despite a number of upsets, this has remained relatively robust until the present time. Thus, despite the instability engendered by the activities of its neighbouring states, particularly Turkey, and the global focus upon Iraq, there has been stability and the possible initiation of what might be considered consociation.

This book examines all the main issues: geographical, political and geopolitical in detail and provides a wealth of accurate detail and insight unavailable in any other volume. The author, Dr Gareth Stansfield, worked for most of the period 1997-2000 on a variety of projects in Iraqi Kurdistan. This continuous presence on the ground together with his own geographical and political expertise allowed Gareth to develop close links with every department throughout the KRG. He also

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