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Visiting Speaker - Kawa Hassan, Director Middle East & North Africa Program, East West Institute, Brussels

"Neither Reform, Nor Revolution: Kurdistan's Crippling Paralysis"

After almost a decade of boom from 2005 to 2013 thanks to its share of the federal budget, foreign and domestic investment, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) faces its most severe economic crisis since 1991.

Event details

The triggers for this economic malaise are the following: a dramatic drop in oil prices, the influx of 1.8 million Iraqi IDPs and Syrian refuges, and the war against ISIS.  Yet the root cause of the crisis lies in politics rather than economics.  When oil prices were high, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) structurally mismanaged the oil and gas sector.  It lacked a vision and plan to properly utilise oil incomes and diversify the economy.  The presidential and parliamentary paralysis continue.  The ruling parties Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) acknowledge the need for and have announced reforms. 

I argue they are incapable and unwilling to implement real reforms since meaningful change will impact vested interests of ruling elites and their cronies.  The opposition is pushing hard for reforms, yet is neither capable of pressuring PUK and KDP to reform the system nor capable of overthrowing it through revolution.  As a result KRI is stuck in a crippling impasse.  If left unresolved this dual crisis probably will be disastrous for Kurds and the long term US/Western policy to defeat ISIS and violent jihadi extremism in Iraq and the wider Middle East.

Kawa_Hassan___A4_Notice.pdf (524K)


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