Panel 6a Iraq, its Regions and the International

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Chair: Dr Toby Dodge, Reader in International Relations, LSE

Paper 1: Sold Out? American Foreign Policy and the Kurdish Revolt 1972 – 1975
Bryan Gibson, PhD candidate, LSE

Since the leaking of the Pike Committee Report to the press in February 1976 the history of America’s policy toward the Kurdish Revolt has taken on a life of its own, particularly after columnists like William Safire accused President Ford of selling the Kurds out. As is often the case, the story is far more complicated than most commentators suggest. Fortunately today, with the availability of primary documents, a more extensive picture of the American policy can emerge. What becomes clear is that while some agencies in the American government were opposed to helping the Kurds, key officials, like Henry Kissinger, fought hard to keep the Kurdish operation alive. Unfortunately, the entire operation was based on the will of the Shah of Iran, who, when faced with a seductive concession from Iraq, decided to cancel it, despite American and Israeli objections.

Paper 2:  Iraq’s International Relations after Regime Change
Emma Sky, Visiting Professor, War Studies Department, Kings College London

This Paper examines Iraq’s place in the Middle East following the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003. It argues that Iraq’s international relations can only be understood in the context of its domestic politics; that Iraq is a fragile state whose weakness invites outside interference; that Iraq’s internal divisions lead various actors to seek external support; and that Iraq is a battlefield for a proxy war between neighbouring countries who fear a resurgent Iran is turning Iraq into a client state, in the wake of declining US influence. Iraq’s potential to emerge as an independent, rational, and stabilizing actor in the Middle East is dependent on it putting its internal house in order.

Paper 3: The Link between Oil, War on Terror and Domestic Sovereignty: Explaining the Post-2003 Kurdish Decision-Making in Iraq
Yaniv Voller, PhD candidate, LSE

Two interesting developments took place during the second decade for the KRG’s existence. The first development has been the KRG’s increased unilateralism with regard to extraction and export of regional oil. Such unilateralism from the KRG’s side has been manifested in various forms: independent hydrocarbon legislation, signing of independent extraction and production contracts with transnational energy corporations and also willingness to go for direct conflict with the Iraqi government over the control of oil rich territories. The second development has been the KRG’s local War on Terror (WOT) campaign, which was, at least on some occasions, indicated by the KRG leadership as part of the global WOT. Seemingly, there is no direct link between the two: on the surface, the former development relates to a contestation between two parties over natural resources, whereas the latter relates more to domestic security. Yet, a more critical examination would reveal a stronger link between the two: both could be better explained if we examine them as part of the KRG’s desire to legitimate its existence as a de facto state, its demands to expand Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq, and even aspirations for potential independence.

These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by the presenters.
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