A Semester in Review: The Microcosm of Iraqi Kurdistan

The semester ended and I sat pondering what I had learned over the past sixteen weeks. Do I know more about international politics in the Middle East than when I started? If so, what did I learn and how can I best summarize my new knowledge? These questions were running through my mind when I came across this analysis about Iraqi Kurdish relations with Iran and Turkey. The pieces suddenly came together when I realized that Iraqi Kurdistan is a good microcosm for my semester. The four trends which I found to be most significant in my study of international politics of the Middle East are all present within Iraqi Kurdistan: the lingering effects of colonialism; the struggle between politics, or realism, and identity, or constructivism; the impact of oil; and the involvement of outside actors. Continue reading

Kurdistan- The Next Oil State?

Oil platform in Iraqi Kurdistan. (www.telegraph.co.uk)

Oil has played a significant role in creating and sustaining states in the Middle East. Since the Qajar Shah of Iran signed the first oil deal with William D’Arcy in 1901, oil money has been used to centralize power, fund an era of modernity, and build elaborate welfare states across the Middle East. Could Iraqi Kurdistan be the next state to buy its independence with oil? Unfortunately, the cards still seem to be stacked against Kurdish independence. Continue reading

Iraqis First, Christians Second

The leader of the Iraqi parliament’s Christian Rafidain bloc, Yonadim Kana, refused the formation of special sectarian security force units to protect Iraq’s minorities. Al-Monitor reported that Kana announced his dissent and revealed the creation of a special

Yonadim Kana, leader of Iraq’s Christian Rafidain Bloc. (www.iraqichristians.info)

committee formed to draft a law that would guarantee administrative and cultural rights for minorities. Continue reading

Maliki’s Menage-a-Trois

It has not been an easy month for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Domestically, the Basra Provincial Council announced a lawsuit against the national Ministry of Oil and the central government in Baghdad is still locked in arguments with the Kurdistan

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. (www.foxnews.com)

Regional Government (KRG) over the issuance of exploration permits and oil payments. More significantly, the worsening crisis in Syria, continuing talks over an attack on Iran’s nuclear program, and Turkish attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq are testing Maliki’s foreign policy and domestic sovereignty credentials. This week, facing a menage-a-trois of American, Iranian, and Turkish interests in Iraq, Maliki decided to send some powerful messages. Continue reading

Hello…..Kurdistan?

Any discussion of minority identities in Mesopotamia almost always ends with one group, the Kurds.This week’s class discussion about the League of Nations mandate system in the post World War I Middle East coupled with current events sparked an interest in the Kurdistan region. Kurdistan is a subject which is often brushed over when learning about the Middle East. Certainly, this can not be due to any lack of importance in the region. A quick search of recent headlines Continue reading