Statehood in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through an Economic Lens

The viability of an independent Kurdish state has engaged policy experts and scholars for decades. Many, Iraqi Kurds and foreigners alike, have surmised over the years that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) would and could gain independence through its blossoming oil sector. This report argues that the KRI did not have the economic capacity to become an independent state. Oil assets and exports, the creation of a central bank and currency, trade, debt and a balanced budget are all essential features of a future independent Kurdish state, without which no amount of political will, nationalistic messaging or international support could lead to a viable, let alone successful, secession from Iraq. The loss of the Kirkuk related oil fields in mid-October 2017, as part of the reassertion of federal authority over the disputed territories, places statehood further and totally out of reach, at least from an economic perspective.

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