On September 25, Iraqi Kurdistan is set to hold a referendum on independence. There are plenty of strong voices around the globe in support of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s (KRI) right to self-determination, but questions surround both the timing of the vote as well as the KRI’s preparedness for ...

Iraqi Kurdistan has been relatively stable in an otherwise troubled region. Unhappy with Iraq as their home, Kurds have fought successive Iraqi regimes since being annexed to the new state in 1926. The war against ISIS has produced a new crop of young military commanders, emboldened both by their bravery ...

The Syrian regime’s bombing of Syrian Kurdish forces in the country’s far northeast is a notable change in strategy, illustrating just how concerned Damascus is about the group’s recent territorial gains.  Regime warplanes targeted Kurdish-controlled areas in the northeastern city of Hasaka for the first time since Syria’s conflict began ...

With the world watching, ISIS deployed chemical weapons in the Iraqi towns of Sinjar and Taza in February and March of 2016, respectively. Since gaining vast amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria and taking over key chemical facilities, ISIS has acquired a substantial quantity of chemical material that it ...

The region often referred to as Kurdistan, split between four areas in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, has long played a role as a conflicted buffer zone between larger states. Within these countries, the Kurdish people have, according to Akin Unver, a professor at Kadir Has University and Cipher Brief ...

The systemic and historical structure of Turkish-Iranian competition over Kurdish geography is one of the oldest geostrategic riddles of the Middle East. Through its long history, the Kurdish lebensraum, which roughly corresponds to the Taurus-Zagros mountain corridor, has separated the Anatolian, Persian, and Mesopotamian plains and, in doing so, has ...

The complex proxy war in Syria has demonstrated both the reach and limitations of Iran’s strategic influence. By mobilizing a wide range of strategic, tactical, and operational resources, Iran has prevented the collapse of the Syrian state. However, the depth of its commitment notwithstanding, the Islamic Republic lacks both the ...

As Kurdish forces battle the Islamic State (ISIS) on the frontlines in Iraq and Syria and the government in Baghdad struggles to preserve a cohesive Iraq, the calls for an independent Kurdistan have never been more pronounced. “I believe that it is in the best interest of Kurdistan to become ...

For much of the past century, the Kurds have rebelled against their respective rulers only to be brutally crushed each time. The 21st century is proving less cruel. More than two decades of upheaval unleashed by Iraq’s ill-fated invasion of Kuwait and accelerated by the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein ...

In an exclusive interview with The Cipher Brief, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States, discussed the current security and economic situations in the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq as well as the push for Kurdish independence. Abdul Rahman explained that it is “remarkable how ...

The chaos we’re seeing today throughout the Mideast continues to escalate and shows no signs of subsiding. The United States and the West seem unwilling or unable to take the necessary steps to help bring some semblance of order to the region.    The Russians have entered the fray further complicating ...

In the past five years, the Middle East has suffered from a double collapse.  First, having proven unable to provide capable political institutions or economic opportunity to their citizens, several of the region’s states have effectively collapsed.  Reconstituting them has proven to be a task of immense difficulty, leading to ...

A couple years ago, when the Middle East was in turmoil but considerably less complicated than today, I was at a small gathering of foreign policy specialists, including one eminent Middle East expert who has followed the region for 25 years.  As we speculated about the region's future, this expert ...

Victory in Ramadi City against ISIS by the Iraqi Army, despite ISIS holdouts, has given a shot in the arm to the Iraqi government and to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.  Strengthening Iraq’s political institution is not only essential to the fight against ISIS but also for larger regional objectives. ...

In Iraq, the fight to rid the country of the Islamic State (referred to colloquially in Arabic as Daesh) is taking longer than officials and analysts expected. For instance, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently stated that the campaign to eject ...

Kurdistan is a transnational patchwork quilt of territories spread across Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. Though only six million out of a total of 32 million Kurds live inside the current territorial borders of Iraq, these Kurds have achieved the greatest autonomy of any of their brethren. Saddam’s defeat in ...