Iraqi Kurdistan: contours of a post-civil war society
Iraqi Kurdistan began the road to reconstruction after it became an autonomous region following the 1991 Gulf war. Although many of the difficulties facing post-Saddam Iraq are similar to those facing Iraqi Kurdistan in the early 1990s, the experience of the North cannot be treated mechanically as a model for the country as a whole. The paper traces political and economic developments since 1991 and concludes that many of the factors which led to destabilisation in the North in the 1990s are present today in the rest of Iraq. These include the use of violence to create ethnic and sectarian tensions in pursuit of political ends, dependence on centralised food distribution, and foreign interference. The 1990s also witnessed the emergence of new clientelist networks, which cut across the distinction between state and civil society. The rehabilitation of the oil industry and a geographically fair division of its considerable revenues may hold out the prospect for a peace dividend, but this is not guaranteed unless issues of security, genuine political participation, massive unemployment and clientelism are addressed.