Kurdish Border Showdown With Iraq, Turkey, and Iran

Iraqi Kurds Refuse to Hand Over Border Crossings

The fate of Iraqi Kurdistan, having voted to secede from Iraq, remains uncertain. Iraq has halted all flights into the region, and is now making efforts to try to seal off the entire Kurdish border with the rest of the world.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has refused demands to hand over all borders crossings to Iraqi authority. As with the airports, Iraq is looking to go around them and take the border crossings from the other side.

Iraq’s Defense Ministry says they intend to “seize” all of the border crossings in coordination with both the Iranian and Turkish governments. This would cover most of Iraqi Kurdistan’s border with the outside world, excluding only northeast Syria.

That may be a tougher battle, as that part of Syria is under the control of another Kurdish faction, and while the two Kurdish groups aren’t on the best of terms, they’re also unlikely to back the Iraqi central government in sealing off the border outright.

Both Iran and Turkey have substantial Kurdish minorities on the border, and fear the ramifications of an independent Kurdistan in the area. This has them both backing Iraq in their increasingly bellicose threats to reclaim control of the Iraqi Kurds before they can successfully exit the country.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.