The Kurdish Dream and International Agendas

Media Coverage | August 08, 2016

Kawa Hassan, Director of EWI's Middle East and North Africa Program, appears on SkyNews Arabia's Friendly Fires to discuss the issue. 

In the discussion, held on August 3 in London, Hassan shared his insight:

  • All Kurds agree on one thing and principle: Kurds are entitled to statehood. This is a dream of every Kurd, but there is a difference between dream and reality.  
  • After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and Syrian revolution in 2011, new political realities emerged in Iraq and Syria. Both countries are collapsing due to the war against ISIS, civil war and infighting. Political parties and societies in Iraq and Syria are fragmented. This creates opportunities for more Kurdish rights, self rule, federalism and con-federalism. 
  • But just like Arabs, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds also are deeply fragmented and divided. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the issue of independence has become a factor in further dividing rather than uniting the Kurds. The political parties have different views on the timing and the way independence issue has been pursued by Maosud Barzani, whose term as president has expired but still is in power.
  • In the four countries where Kurds live—Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran—sadly there is a kind of Kurdophobia, an asusmption that granting rights to Kurds will lead to the partitioning of these countries. There is not one major Kurdish party that calls for the establishment of Grand Kurdistan. What Kurds want are equal political, economic, cultural rights. More Kurdish self rule will strengthen these countries and societies since Kurds will feel they are equal citizens. 
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq faces serious challenges: economic downturn, political paralysis, paralyzed government, social disintegration. Due to these problems and challenges at the moment, the conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan are not ready for the establishment of an independent state. Instead, Iraqi Kurdish parties should first put the Kurdish house in order, then set up a common vision and plan for their relations with Federal Iraq. They should engage in serious, strategic and deep negotiations with Baghadad about their demands but also about what they can offer to Iraq. There is a need for creative ideas to reach agreements on oil and gas revenues, disputed territories and economic relations.   
  • Given the complexity, fluidity and dynamism of developments in Iraq and Syria, it is very difficult to predict future prospects and scenarios of the Kurdish issue. 

To watch the program (in Arabic), click here.