Aiming at Secession
The KRG’s Activism in the International Arena
This study addresses the issue of sub-national units’ activism in the international arena, using the case of the Iraqi Kurdistan federal region. The prevailing view in the literature is that the increasing involvement of sub-state entities in international relations is caused by globalization and growing economic interdependence. We argue that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been extremely active in the international arena, primarily, to secure a favorable international image and gain support for recognition in pursuit of a secessionist agenda. To prove our argument, we generated data through interviews with KRG officials, politicians and Kurdish intellectuals and used secondary data, such as official documents, newspaper reports, statistics and public speeches. Our findings suggest that the KRG has methodically acted to garner international support for its secessionist plans. This conclusion may add to the theory of federalism and paradiplomacy by suggesting that strong political motives may be also the underlying causes of sub-state units’ engagement in international relations, not only globalization and economic interdependence.
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