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After Iraqi Kurdistan’s Thwarted Independence Bid

International Crisis Group reports:

The furious reaction to the September 2017 Kurdish independence referendum – in the wake of which Iraqi forces recaptured most of the country’s disputed territories – has forced the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan’s two main political parties to consider rebuilding their partnership and jointly re-engaging with Baghdad about outstanding differences. These steps are a strategic necessity if these parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are to advance the Kurdish region’s interests. Yet inter- and intra-party rivalries, as well as leadership contests, are undermining any inclination in that direction. The referendum backlash also accelerated the erosion of both the parties’ internal democratic processes and the region’s governing institutions, while strengthening family-based rule. Any international effort to advance negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad should begin by encouraging renewed KDP-PUK partnership and reinvigorating the push for political reform in the Kurdish region.

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