Is Iraqi Kurdistan Close to Secession?

Ethnic Tensions Remain on Iraqi Kurdistan's Frontier

Though they have considerable autonomy within their own territory, Iraqi Kurdistan’s frontier is still a hotbed of ethnic and religious violence, with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG’s) Peshmearga struggling to provide security in disputed regions like Khanaqin.

This is not the only source of friction. The political situation with Iraq’s central government also seems near a breaking point, with disputes over oil exports leading the KRG to halt all oil coming out of Kurdistan early this month.

It’s not as if any of these disputes are brand new, but they have analysts predicting that the figurative breaking points between the KRG and the Maliki government could spark a literal break, meaning Kurdish secession.

Over the past few weeks, the US has been pushing Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to “re-engage” with Maliki, and it is clear that Iraq splitting up would be embarrassing for the Obama Administration. These splits have been coming for generations, however, and all such admonitions seem able to do is delay the confrontation.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of