Introduction: The referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that is scheduled to be held on September 25th, 2017 has generated much discussions in and outside of Iraq and the KRG. Thus far, this decision has been met with opposition both from regional as well as international powers. Some countries have called on the Iraqi Kurdish leadership to delay and others to cancel the referendum. They have advocated for an alternative – the content of which is yet to be determined – solution to the independence referendum to settle the dispute between Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. At this stage, though the window hasn’t been completely closed for a new round of negotiations between Baghdad and Erbil to address the disputed files, and define the nature of the future relationships between themselves, the Kurdish leadership has thus far rejected this alternative offer, citing that this alternative offer doesn’t provide necessary guarantees for the Kurdish grievances or aspirations. If the referendum takes place as planned, let alone the declaration of independence, this decision is likely to have major national and regional ramifications. In this 360-degree dossier, senior researchers, policymakers, and journalists, with extensive expertise on Middle Eastern and Kurdish affairs, answer 5 questions on the referendum and its regional implications.
Seyed Hamzeh Safavi – Faculty Member at Law and Political Science faculty of University of Tehran Luay al Khatteeb – Executive Director, Iraq Energy Institute (IEI) Mesut Ozcan – Director of Diplomacy Academy at Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Muhanad Seloom – Director of the Iraqi Centre for Strategic Studies (ICSS) Guney Yildiz – Visiting Fellow at European Council on Foreign Relations & Former Special Adviser on Turkey to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament Dlawer Ala’Aldeen – Founding President of the Middle East Research Institute & The Former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Kurdistan Regional Government Mohammed A. Salih – PhD Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication where he focuses on extremist movements in the Middle East