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The Rocky Path Toward Kurdish Independence

The Rocky Path Toward Kurdish Independence

In this episode of The Backstory, FP’s Middle East editor David Kenner speaks with reporter Campbell MacDiarmid and former National Security Council Iraq Director Douglas Ollivant about Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum on independence, which is scheduled for Sept. 25. MacDiarmid recently interviewed Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani in an article that takes its title from the Kurdish leader’s own words: “I Want to Die in the Shadow of the Flag of an Independent Kurdistan.”

But the path to Kurdish independence promises to be a rocky one. As MacDiarmid and Ollivant discuss, the referendum bid threatens to anger the Kurds’ key international allies, spark a confrontation with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad, and worsen an already dire economic situation. Can Barzani overcome these challenges – or is independence destined to always remain just beyond his reach?

Read Campbell’s Exclusive FP article on his experience interviewing Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani here.

Campbell MacDiarmid is an Erbil-based freelance journalist covering conflict, international law, and humanitarian issues. Follow him on Twitter: @CampbellMacD.

Douglas Ollivant is a senior fellow in the Future of War Program at New America and a managing partner at Mantid International. A two-tour veteran of the Iraq war and a senior advisor in Afghanistan, he served as a Naitonal Security Council director in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. Follow him on Twitter: @DouglasOllivant.

David Kenner is FP’s Middle East editor. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidKenner.