The coming months will likely see the end of the Islamic State’s control of territory in Iraq, but the problems facing the peoples of Iraq will not end there. The country faces myriad problems, ranging from sectarian divisions and dysfunctional governance to unhelpful neighbors. Tensions over budgets, weapons, borders, and oil between the Kurdistan Region and the central government in Baghdad remain unresolved—and may soon precipitate the declaration of an independent Kurdish state.
On February 23, an expert panel examined the challenges and opportunities ahead for Iraq, Kurdistan, and the new U.S. administration. Should the Trump administration continue to invest in the Iraqi State? Are federalism, institution-building, and good governance initiatives in Iraq a lost cause? How should the new administration deal with Iraq’s powerful, Iranian-backed Shiite militias? Would an independent Kurdish state bring solutions or additional problems for Kurds and the other peoples of Iraq? Similarly, what would the Republic of Kurdistan mean for the United States? The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman joined Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollack and Ranj Alaaldin, along with Hudson’s Michael Pregent and Eric Brown, to discuss the implications for Iraq and the region as well as their importance to America’s geopolitical interests.