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January 25, 2023

Uncertainty Hangs over Iraqi Kurdistan in 2023

By Hamzeh Hadad

In his recent visit to Iraq, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, focused much of his attention on Iraqi Kurdistan. This region has been a relatively stable part of Iraq, post-2003, but now faces a heightened risk of internal fragmentation and external threat. Frequent foreign attacks undermine prospects for stabilizing Iraq two decades after the U.S. invasion. The formation of a consensus Iraqi government in October, which includes both major Kurdish parties, presents an opportunity to resolve internal Kurdish issues, as well as outstanding ones with Baghdad, but this can be done only with American support.

Ensuring stability in Iraqi Kurdistan is important for the U.S. and its allies. The region plays host to coalition troops and various international organizations serving Iraq and Syria. Moreover, previous instances of instability in Iraqi Kurdistan, such as the financial crisis in 2020, triggered major refugee flows into Europe.

Ensuring stability in Iraqi Kurdistan is important for the U.S. and its allies.

For many years, NATO member Turkey has had military bases in Iraq to fight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which both Ankara and Washington view as a terrorist group. Turkish airstrikes and skirmishes have killed many Turkish and PKK fighters, as well as Iraqi civilians. In late July, public anger with Turkey peaked when a Turkish airstrike hit a park in Duhok governorate, killing at least eight civilians and wounding more than 20, many of whom were tourists from central and southern Iraq. These operations also have displaced many families, most notably indigenous minorities such as Yazidis and Assyrians.

Read the full article from the The Hill.

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