The Kurds reluctantly agreed to form government with Iraq’s newly-elected Prime Minister Haider al-abadi on a conditional basis. The Kurdish bloc in Baghdad has given Abadi three months for the conditions to be met.
The key demands include releasing Kurdish share of Iraq’s annual budget, which has been seized since January, settling oil-related disputes, implementing Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution and arming Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
Kurdistan’s Parliament formed the Kurdistan High Commission for Election and Referendum, pushing ahead with an independence referendum if Baghdad does not meet their conditions.
The three months timeline, is very critical for Kurdish region, politically, economically and even socially. The Kurdish leaders, scholars, members of parliament and military experts must be able to assess KRG’s military, finance, security and diplomatic capacity to avoid last-minute policy-making decisions.
The following guidelines are necessary for Kurdish officials within KRG’s Department Foreign Relations, DFR, to consider. During this period, it is crucial for KRG to conduct intensive diplomatic missions regionally and internationally — establishing “special” committees to enshrine Kurdistan’s independence ambitions.
“Zero” Problem Diplomacy
It is necessary for KRG’s DFR to conduct diplomatic missions during the remaining time of the three months, beyond foreign relations. A successful diplomatic mission will secure international support, and ensure Kurdistan’s oil can be exported safely. These efforts require contributions from all parties, and international experts. It is imperative that the Kurdistani Parliament works on establishing a legal parameter whereby the DFR can operate to expand its reach.
The DFR is tasked with ensuring its allies do not perceive the emergence of an independent Kurdistan as a threat regionally, but an opportunity to have a stable regional force.
Special Mission to Baghdad
Baghdad will remain to be a strategic partner and neighbor for Kurdistan in the future. It is necessary that relations with the country are not completely destroyed for the sake of maintaining ties, which act favorably for Kurdistan’s future. The goal of this committee is to ensure Kurdistan’s ties with Baghdad is balanced and peaceful. Both Kurdistan and Iraq have economic ties, and their security is interlinked. Through working together, both can achieve peace and prosperity.
Special Mission to Turkey
Turkey is an important energy and gas neighbor to Kurdistan. The special mission to Turkey will not be met with open doors in the beginning, but it can gradually amass support by co-coordinating with local think-tanks, interest groups and Turkish companies that operate in Kurdistan. The goal of this committee is to maintain and establish the groundwork for Turkey’s recognition of Kurdistan’s new status. The energy policy will remain to be an important aspect of the Turkish-Kurdish relations, but equally important are security and stability in the region.
Special Mission to Iran
Despite concerns, Iran’s relationship with Kurdistan is important for several reasons. Namely, Iran is the only and first neighboring country to officially recognize KRG and has accepted KRG’s office to be opened in Tehran.
The Kurdish-Iranian relations can be strengthened economically and through shared interests in maintaining security in the region. The existence of Iranian opposition groups in Kurdistan can play an important role in turning the relationship to build a peaceful and long-lasting relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Special Mission to Arab World
It is necessary for Arab countries to not see the emergence of an independent Kurdistan as a threat, or perceive it as the fall of Iraq. Kurdistan’s independence is not a threat to Iraq or Arab nations, and this special mission should focus on ensuring generating strategic ties with regional Arab powers.
Special Mission to United States and Europe
The goal of this mission is not to undermine the effectiveness of KRG offices in US and Europe. Instead, it is to lobby respective governments efficiently, and work on improving Kurdistan’s relations internationally. This mission should focus on addressing policy-makers and public opinion regarding the importance of an independent Kurdistan for Western countries in terms of energy, security and consolidating democracy.
Special Mission to Kurdish Affairs
Kurdish political parties that exist in Turkey, Iran and Syria are important, and must be not be marginalized in Kurdistan’s efforts to become independent. A long-lasting relations with these parties will ensure a balanced ties with Tehran and Ankara.
This committee should deal with autonomous Cantons that could share economic and security interests with an independent Kurdistan in the future. The mission requires projecting future strategies that could be long-lasting for the duration of five or more years.
The developments of the above committees should be discussed between Kurdistan’s Parliament and Council of Ministers to facilitate the means of institutionalizing the diplomatic mission.