The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade organized a roundtable discussion on the 27th of September about the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum with the participation of László Csicsmann, PhD, Máté Szalai and Péter Wagner, PhD. During the event, which was moderated by Diána Szőke.
The experts agreed that the referendum was a political and not legal action which also had severe economic implications. Erbil intends to start discussions with Baghdad about a possible independence, nonetheless the willingness of the central Iraqi government to engage in such talks are questionable. The referendum can be interpreted in the context of Kurdish internal politics – Kurdish President Masoud Barzani (whose mandate expired two years ago) and its Kurdish Democratic Party tries to strengthen its stances vis-á-vis the Kurdish Patriotic Union and the Gorran party.
The international implications of the process are yet to be identifiable. Due to their own Kurdish minority, Turkey and Iran consider the referendum as a highly sensitive question, which is why they expressed severe threats towards Erbil, nonetheless they did not intervene in the process. Since the referendum took place, the rhetorical pressure grew on Iraqi Kurdistan from Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran. The Kurdish question, on the other hand, also highlights the question of the stability of Middle Eastern borders in general, since an independent Kurdish state could set a precedent for other ethnic-religious groups in the region to start their own similar movements. That is why it is doubtful whether regional actors would easily accept the process.