The Problem with Kurdish Independence

Iraqi Kurdistan will hold an independence referendum on September 25, and there is no international support for that:

On Monday, the European Union joined the United Nations, the United States, Turkey, and Iraq to discourage Iraqi Kurds from holding an independence referendum on Sept. 25.

That was to be expected, and won’t deter regional government authorities in Erbil, said Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government representative in Washington.

The broad international opposition to a Kurdish independence referendum underscores the problem with trying to create an independent Kurdistan: the new state would be immediately isolated, it would lack recognition from most other governments, and would face intense disapproval from all of its new neighbors. Iraqi Kurdistan would forfeit the benefits of its current semi-autonomous status in exchange for a formal independence that would impose numerous costs on it. Iran isn’t mentioned in the article, but their government has likewise expressed opposition to the referendum.

Supporters of the referendum say that a vote in favor of independence isn’t a declaration of independence, but for the many regional opponents of a Kurdish state it might be taken as one. It is doubtful that the Turkish and Iraqi governments would limit their opposition to rhetoric, so a new Kurdish state would find itself besieged and under attack very early on, and Iran would presumably aid the Baghdad in trying to prevent the separation of the region. The last thing the region needs is even more instability and violence, and a push for Kurdish independence would produce more of both. Contrary to the hopes of Western partition fans, Kurdish independence would spark new conflicts and complicate existing ones. It would resolve none of them.

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