Kurdish Dynamics Amid a Fracturing Regional Order

What will be the trajectory of Kurdish politics in Iraq and Syria following the defeat of ISIS? What are the European policy options amid a changing regional landscape?


Hemin Hawrami, Senior Advisor, HE Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region

Ranj Alaaldin, Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institution, Doha

Güney Yildiz, Specialist Adviser, Foreign Affairs Select Committee, House of Commons

Chaired by

Ellie Geranmayeh, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR     

In the coming months, Iraq’s Kurds may press ahead with a referendum on independence, potentially upending Iraq’s ethnic balance. In Syria, the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) has invested Syria’s Kurds with increased influence and control over a large swath of territory, but without a clear sense of how these areas will be administered. In both countries, Kurdish politics are playing out against a backdrop of a weak or collapsing state, where military advances against ISIS outpace efforts to restore institutions, while militias and other violent non-state actors will likely continue to dominate.

This panel will examine the trajectory of Kurdish politics in Iraq and Syria following the defeat of ISIS, examining European policy options amid a changing regional landscape.

Hemin Hawrami (@heminhawrami) is Senior Advisor to His Excellency Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Leadership Council, and was previously head of the KDP Foreign Relations Office. He graduated from Salahaddin University in Erbil, where he was an active member of the Kurdistan Students Union and wrote extensively for KDP media.

Dr Ranj Alaaldin (@RanjAlaaldin) is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Doha and holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dr Alaaldin consults on regional politics, energy, and security. He was previously a Senior Consultant at the Next Century Foundation (NCF), led election monitoring teams in Iraq between 2009 and 2014, and fact-finding missions to Libya in 2011 as well as to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. He is the author of a forthcoming book on armed groups in Iraq.

Güney Yildiz (@guneyyildiz) is an analyst of Turkish and Kurdish affairs. He currently serves as a Special Adviser to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament. Until January, he worked for the BBC for almost a decade, reporting on Turkish, Kurdish, and Syrian politics. He is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge, with a focus on non-state actors in the Middle East.

Ellie Geranmayeh (@EllieGeranmayeh) is a Senior Policy Fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Programme for ECFR. Her work focuses on European foreign policy in relation to Iran and regional geopolitical issues. Her latest publication for ECFR was 'After ISIS: How to Win the Peace in Iraq and Libya' with Hayder al-Khoei and Mattia Toaldo.