Professors host open forum on Iraqi Kurdistan referendum for independence


Iraqi Kurdistan, a proto-state located in northern Iraq, recently held a independence referendum in which its citizens overwhelming voted in favor of secession from Iraq.

Thomas Prasch, history professor, was unsurprised that 90 percent of the population voted in favor of independence. 

“[This should come] as little surprise to those who have been paying attention,” said Prasch. “A semi-autonomous region since the end of the First Gulf War, the Kurds have been flying their own flag and largely running their own affairs for over a decade.”

The issue of Iraqi Kurdistan independence directly affects not only the Middle East, but the United States as well. 

“[We are] heavily dependent on the Kurdish fighting force, the Peshmerga, in the war against ISIS in Iraq,” said Prasch. “Syria, has largely backed Kurdish autonomy. Yet the U.S. opposed the referendum on independence, as did the Iraqi state and neighboring states Turkey and Iran; not many issues find all those nations on the same side. The UN, the European Union, the Arab League and Saudi Arabia all pushed the Kurds to cancel the vote; Egypt and Lebanon have suspended flights to the region in its wake.” 

The issue at Washburn, then, is making sure that the community understands the history behind this issue of independence, who the Kurds are and whether or not there will ever officially be a Kurdistan. 

Prasch will be hosting a forum open to the public called “Kurdistan?: A Forum.” He will be joined by Linsey Moddelmog, political science professor, and Bassima Schbley, social work professor, to discuss the geopolitical realities of the issue, the region’s historical background as well as the matter of US and Iraq foreign policies. The forum will be held 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, in Henderson 112.