The KRG received huge support from the U.S. and EU countries in its fight against ISIS. What does this mean from a foreign policy perspective?
The fight against ISIS has become the priority of the international system, i.e. the Western world that is mainly the US and the EU. The KRG is on the frontline of this international effort. It has the longest border with ISIS. It is simultaneously under the threat of ISIS and also the “boots on the ground” against the so-called “Caliphate,” the undoing of which has been the predicament for the international system. To degrade and ultimately destroy and defeat ISIS is the primary goal for the Coalition. Thus, the KRG has, by itself, transformed into a main pillar for such an international undertaking. This is a crucial role from a pure foreign policy perspective. Alternately, such a role for the KRG and being at the receiving end of huge support from the US and EU countries reflect that the protection, survival, and wellbeing of the KRG are under solid and concrete international guarantees. This is a tremendous, historic achievement for the Kurds, who had been the underdogs of the regional order in the post-Sykes-Picot era.
How would you assess the evolution of Turkey’s stance towards the KRG? Could domestic political factors in Turkey and Turkey’s policy towards Syrian Kurds affect the progress made in Turkish/KRG relations in the medium or long term?
The evolution of Turkey’s stance vis-à-vis the KRG is another remarkable achievement on the part of the Kurds. Turkey evolved from being the most hostile player of the regional state system into being a close partner for the KRG economically, commercially, and, as a matter of fact, politically. The point that has been reached, while remembering the past, should be regarded as unbelievable despite its ups and downs. It is huge progress for both parties. Of course, domestic political factors in Turkey and Turkey’s policy towards Syrian Kurds do have the potential to affect its relations with the KRG. However, regional dynamics are as strong and even more important in shaping national policies. Therefore, we cannot deduce that domestic factors would have an adverse effect. They could render the complete opposite result. Taking the progress achieved in Turkish-KRG relations into consideration, we have to be optimistic and positive that a similar evolution can take place in Turkey’s attitude towards its own Kurds and their kinsmen in Syria. Moreover, the KRG can also influence Turkey’s attitude interactively.
Alternately, such a role for the KRG and being at the receiving end of huge support from the US and EU countries reflect that the protection, survival, and wellbeing of the KRG are under solid and concrete international guarantees.
How would you assess the political stability and rapid economic development in the Kurdistan Region in recent years?
It deserves a very simple and brief response: it is an impressive success story, particularly since the Kurdistan Region has achieved this in an Iraq plagued by devastating and bloody civil wars. Under such circumstances, the Kurdistan Region flourished as an oasis of stability, peace, and economic progress. It goes without saying that this is a fabulous achievement for the Kurds and serves as evidence that the Kurds in the 21st century are as entitled to run their affairs as any other civilized nation.