The Iraqi Kurds’ recent territorial gains have sparked widespread speculation that they may soon be able to realize the Kurdish dream of statehood. Over the past few weeks, excited Kurds around the world have rallied in support of independence. But secession is a difficult and costly course.
Many Kurds long for an independent Kurdistan, but only in Iraq has the dream come close. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Kurds have built a semi-autonomous region with their own regional government (the Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG), armed forces (peshmerga) and an oil-dependent economy that has attracted big foreign investors. But the KRG is still bound to Iraq, and has been restrained by its disputes with Baghdad over territory and oil exports.
The Kurds appeared to gain an edge on some of those disputes when the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS) took over Mosul last June, pushing the…
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