Independence Referendum Already Transforming Iraqi Kurdistan


31 Aug 2017 – Institute scholar Michael Knights says that the upcoming independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan region is already yielding positive results in the form of compromise and cooperation among parties and movements whose enmity has long gridlocked Iraqi Kurdish politics. While a pro-independence result is a near certainty for the September 25 vote, the shape of an eventual settlement between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s national government in Baghdad could take many forms, each with its own problems and benefits for U.S. interests in the region.

In the latest episode of the podcast series Near East PolicyCast, Knights, a frequent visitor to Iraqi Kurdistan, explains what’s at stake in the KRG’s independence referendum and how Washington should approach political tensions between two vital American allies in the Middle East. He also shares personal insights into what it’s like to travel and work in the Kurdish highlands of Iraq, which he calls one of the few places left in the world where it’s still safe to hitchhike.

Michael Knights is the Lafer Fellow at The Washington Institute, specializing in the political and security affairs of Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and the Gulf Arab States. Mike has traveled extensively in Iraq, published widely on Kurdish political and economic issues for major media outlets, and briefed senior government and military officials on Iraqi affairs.

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