July 17, 2017

From rebellion to de facto statehood: international and transnational sources of the transformation of the Kurdish national liberation movement in Iraq into the Kurdistan regional government

From rebellion to de facto statehood: international and transnational sources of the transformation of the Kurdish national liberation movement in Iraq into the Kurdistan regional government

Voller, Yaniv (2012) From rebellion to de facto statehood: international and transnational sources of the transformation of the Kurdish national liberation movement in Iraq into the Kurdistan regional government. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

In 1991, following its defeat in the first Gulf War and out of fear of a humanitarian catastrophe, the Iraqi army and state-apparatus were forced to withdraw from the three Kurdish-population governorates in Northern Iraq. This left an administrative vacuum that was filled by the leadership of the Kurdish fragmented guerrilla movement – now a de facto Kurdish state in Northern Iraq, known as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Instead of achieving their goal of an autonomous (and in the long-term even independent) Kurdistan through insurgency or guerrilla warfare, the Kurdish leadership came to see state- and institution-building as the most efficient path. De facto statehood has had a significant impact on the development of the KRG, its state-building, its interaction with the international community, and its policies. As demonstrated in the growing literature on de facto states, the pursuit of international legitimacy often plays a key role in shaping their conduct and identity, paving the way toward substantial, though fragile, achievements in state-building. The purpose of this research is to contribute to the study of de facto states by exploring the case of the KRG. It argues that the pursuit of legitimacy is essential for the understanding of de facto states, mainly due to its potential to generate interaction between the de facto state and different segments of the international community. Transnational advocacy is found to be particularly significant, including diaspora activism for conveying ideas and encouraging interaction. By examining the evolution of the Kurdish national liberation movement from 1958 to 2010, this research aims to better explain the dynamics that shape de facto states in general, and to contribute to the study of the KRG as a de facto state in particular, including its development, and its domestic and foreign policies.

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