Letter from the Chair

Delegates,

Welcome to the Kurdistan Regional Government Committee! My name is Lily Martin, and I will be representing Nechirvan Idris Barzani, Prime Minister of the KRG. This is my 4th and final year doing Model UN, although I hope to continue in college, and my second year on the All-American team. Developing and chairing a committee is one of my favorite aspects of Model UN. I am very excited to chair this committee in particular, which is extremely relevant given the recent developments in Kurdistan. I am looking forward to seeing all of your creative solutions to this pressing issue.

This committee, which will simulate a cabinet meeting of the Kurdistan Regional Government, will have elements of both specialized and crisis committees. While the overarching goal of the committee is to establish an independent state in Kurdistan, there will be various crises introduced throughout the day as well. Having a solid understanding of both your character and the body as a whole will be crucial in your ability to critically and efficiently address and adapt to new information and events.

Below is a brief overview of the historical context for the committee, a topic summary, and some questions to consider that will help you prepare for committee. Use this, as well as the resources section, as a jumping off point for your research. If you have any questions leading up to the conference, feel free to email me at lmartin@lincolnschool.org.

Serkevtî bin!
Lily Martin
Chair, Kurdistan Regional Government

Historical Context

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRD) refers to the regional governing body of a region in Northern Iraq with a majority Kurdish population. The Kurds are an ethnic group indigenous to present day Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. They have a shared culture and language and encompass a variety of religions, although a majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims. Despite being the 4th largest ethnic group in the MENA region, the Kurdish people have never had an official nation state.

Dreams of a homeland for the Kurds began in the early 20th century, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. However, the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne failed to establish a Kurdish state, instead allotting the majority of Kurdish lands to the newly formed Turkey. The Kurds have since been a minority people in the countries they inhabit and have faced ethnic and cultural repression and persecution. In Syria and Turkey, the Kurds have been in constant opposition to their respective governments, which continue to deny them basic rights and citizenship. Iraqi Kurds have had more rights than Kurds living in other states but have also faced oppression and forced relocation.

In 1992, due to the enforcement by the United States of a no-fly zone in Northern Iraq after the Gulf War, Iraqi Kurds established the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRD), a legislative body that operates autonomously under the central Iraqi government. The KRD has its own parliament, foreign policy, and military – which is known as the Peshmerga – but is not an independent nation. The KRD is jointly administered by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The two parties have historically clashed ideologically, with the PUK being more socially radical and leftist and the KDP more traditionalist and conservative. Tensions between the parties led to a Civil War, which was resolved in 1998, and the parties have since managed to work together despite ideological differences.

There have been many attempts at Kurdish independence in Iraq, the most recent being an independence referendum that was held in September of this year. Of those that voted, 93% were in favor of independence. That being said, the Iraqi government has stated that holding the referendum was illegal and has therefore refused to recognize the results.

Topic Summary

Despite an overwhelming desire for independence indicated by the referendum, there are still many factors that must be taken into consideration in order to establish an independent Kurdistan. The first and arguably most important is gaining recognition from the Iraqi government, which has thus far refused to negotiate with the KRG. The region of Kurdistan contains more than 30% of Iraq’s oil supplies, so independence would be a considerable economic loss for Iraq. Therefore, it is unlikely that Iraq will recognize Kurdistan as an independent nation without significant international pressure.

Currently, however, the only nation that has come out in support of Kurdistan is Israel. Therefore, the second factor that must be considered is gaining international support and recognition, which will not be a simple task. Turkey, Syria, and Iran are all vehemently opposed to the idea of an independent Kurdistan, as they fear that it would inspire independence movements among their own Kurdish populations. Being that these nations are all fairly oil-rich, other nations will be discouraged from allying with Kurdistan for fear of risking their trade relationship. The United States has supported the Iraqi Kurds in the past due to their role in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. As of now, the United States has been a proponent of Iraqi unity but has not completely disregarded the referendum either. Gaining the support of the United States, a major world power, would be pivotal for Kurdish independence.

Another important factor when considering independence is cultivating a strong and stable economy. Without the economic support from Iraq, the economy of the KRG has been considerably weakened. Additionally, the economy of Kurdistan relies heavily on oil exports and could therefore be further compromised if allies of the Iraqi central government decide to stop trading with or to impose sanctions on the KRG. Relying too heavily on one principal export, is never sustainable. Therefore, the KRG should work to diversify its economy so that it can remain viable through the process of negotiating independence.

The fourth and final factor to take into account is the threat of the Islamic State in Kurdistan. The Iraqi Kurdish military, also known as the Peshmerga, has been very successful in defeating extremists in the region and has been able to seize most of their strongholds. However, the KRG focusing its attention on independence may give the Islamic State an opportunity to retaliate and regain control of certain areas. Avoiding any sorted of armed conflict with Iraq and other surrounding nations over independence will help to ensure that all military resources can be directed towards fighting the Islamic State.

Questions to Consider

  • Is it truly in the best interests of the Kurdish people in Iraq, economically and socially, to pursue independence?
  • How can the KRG gain the support and recognition of the international community, particularly the United States?
  • In what ways can the economy of the KRG be diversified and strengthened?
  • How should the KRG respond to potential military advances by the Iraqi central government or any of its allies?
  • How will the KRG align itself with other Kurdish fringe groups in the surrounding area, such as the PKK?

Committee Positions

Fuad Hussein – Chief of Staff
Falah Mustafa Bakir – Head of the Department of Foreign Relations
Karim Sinjari – Minister of the Interior
Safeen Muhsin Dizayee – Head of the Department of Media and Information
Samal Sardar – Minister of Trade and Industry
Mohammad Qadir ???- Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Mustafa Sayid Qadir – Minister of Peshmerga Affairs
Rebaz Mohammad – Minister of Finance and the Economy
Sinan Abdulkhaliq Chalabi – Minister of Justice
Rekawt Hama Rasheed – Minister of Health
Mahmood Salih Hama Karim – Minister of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs
Kamal Muslim – Minister of Endowment & Religious Affairs
Jonson Siyawash – Minister of Transport and Communications
Abdulstar Majeed – Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources

Committee Instructions

While this committee takes place after the Independence Referendum of 2017, Kurdistan is nowhere close to independence. The overall goal of this simulation of the Kurdistan Regional Government will be to work towards independence for Kurdistan. However, seeing that the KRG is a governing body, the committee will also need to address current economic and political issues within the region of Kurdistan.

This committee will be run as a crisis committee. Action will be taken on a committee level through directives and on an individual level through crisis notes. The committee can communicate with the public through press releases and with other bodies or individuals through communiqués. Each delegate will have portfolio powers that they can use to further the goals of both their individual character and the committee as a whole. Please research your character and your position in order to gain an understanding of both your role in the government and your character’s beliefs. Your portfolio powers will not be outlined specifically, so please be realistic during committee about what you ask for from crisis.

Awards will be given based on your ability to address the long term goals of Kurdistan as well as your ability to adapt to crisis developments. In order to be successful in such a small and fast-paced committee, you will need to be able to prioritize well and work with your other delegates rather than against them. Using crisis to increase your own personal powers without cause will not be looked upon favorably.

Additional Resources

http://cabinet.gov.krd/p/p.aspx?l=12&p=228
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29702440
https://thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-history/
https://preemptivelove.org/blog/the_kurds_three_barriers_on_the_road_to_independence/
https://preemptivelove.org/blog/kurdish-independence-vote-5-things-know/
http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/22/this-is-not-the-time-for-an-independent-kurdistan-iraq-barzani/
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/us-kurdish-independence/543540/

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