The United States Institute of Peace announces the publication of "Iraq’s Disputed Territories: A View of the Political Horizon and Implications for U.S. Policy," a new Peaceworks report that illustrates in a detailed and specific way what Iraqi-negotiated solutions to the disputed province of Kirkuk and other territories in northern Iraq might look like.

Author Sean Kane, a program officer at USIP writing in his personal capacity, draws upon two data sets -- the political preferences expressed in these territories during Iraq’s three postconstitution elections and archival records detailing these areas’ respective administrative histories -- to demystify the disputed territories that are referred to but not defined in Iraq’s constitution, and then suggests possible options for resolving their status. The author also provides recommendations for how the United States could offer a mix of diplomatic and security incentives to help shape the strategic calculus of Iraqi stakeholders in favor of entering comprehensive territorial negotiations.

For Immediate Release, April 4, 2011
Contact: Allison Sturma, 202-429-4725

(Washington) – The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) announces the publication of "Iraq’s Disputed Territories: A View of the Political Horizon and Implications for U.S. Policy," a new Peaceworks report that illustrates in a detailed and specific way what Iraqi-negotiated solutions to the disputed province of Kirkuk and other territories in northern Iraq might look like.

Author Sean Kane, a program officer at USIP writing in his personal capacity, draws upon two data sets -- the political preferences expressed in these territories during Iraq’s three postconstitution elections and archival records detailing these areas’ respective administrative histories -- to demystify the disputed territories that are referred to but not defined in Iraq’s constitution, and then suggests possible options for resolving their status. The author also provides recommendations for how the United States could offer a mix of diplomatic and security incentives to help shape the strategic calculus of Iraqi stakeholders in favor of entering comprehensive territorial negotiations.

"Sovereign Iraqi authorities have the sole responsibility for deciding upon any changes to the country’s internal boundaries or administrative arrangements,” said Kane. "My hope for the report is that it can provide practical ideas that Iraqis can use to begin a concrete dialogue as to how this long-running and frequently tragic dispute can be resolved peacefully,” he commented. As a first step toward starting this dialogue, critiques by senior Iraqi figures of the report are being featured on the USIP Web site, alongside the report itself.

Kane contends that the Iraqi Kurds’ past suffering makes an eloquent case that they are owed the enhanced security that would come from clarity on the Kurdistan region’s administrative boundaries within Iraq. In return, the Kurds would need to renew their commitment to the viability and territorial integrity of Iraq by allowing for the emergence of a constitutional basis for an appropriately empowered national government outside of the Kurdistan region. Kane believes that both Baghdad and Erbil would also need to be prepared to make territorial concessions and to accept a compromise status for Kirkuk that has no outright winner or loser.

As a special feature, the report includes a series of annexes and custom-produced maps that show the evidence undergirding Kane’s analysis so that readers can examine relevant data for themselves, consider different conclusions, or even argue that alternative factors could be used to imagine a negotiated solution to the disputed territories. Kane said, "It is unlikely that a comprehensive Arab-Kurd deal can be reached by the scheduled withdrawal of what are effectively U.S. peacekeeping troops in northern Iraq later this year."

"In that context, the United States government should now explore with the new Iraqi government whether a negotiating process can at least be launched to begin addressing competing claims to the disputed territories," he noted.

"The risk is that in the absence of negotiations, actors will be tempted to resolve territorial disputes through taking unilateral actions on the ground that have the potential to be profoundly destabilizing and perpetuate the cycle of conflict."

Kane welcomes further comments, feedback and new ideas stimulated by the report and these can be sent to iraqs_disputed_territories_report@usip.org.

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The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) provides the analysis, training and tools that help to prevent, manage and end violent international conflicts, promote stability and professionalize the field of peacebuilding.


 

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