Iraqi Kurdistan: The Internal Dynamics and Statecraft of a Semistate – by Matan Chorev

The semistate possesses many of the features commonly associated with the modern nation-state but remains unrecognized as a sovereign entity. Semistates (such as Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and Iraqi Kurdistan) inhabit the central conflict fault-lines of Southwest Asia’s strategic landscape at the dawn of the twenty-first century. In order to concoct effective conflict management approaches, policymakers must develop a framework for comprehending internal dynamics and statecraft of these entities. Knowledge of the factors that contributed to the ambiguous status of Iraqi Kurdistan in the aftermath of the first Gulf War is imperative to analyzing the behavior of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the post-Saddam era. After a cursory introduction to the concept of the semistate, this paper will explain what sustained Iraqi Kurdistan’s ambiguous status throughout the 1990s and the impact it had on Kurdish politics.

Matan Chorev (MALD ’07) is a Researcher at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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