Politicization of Kurdish Security in Iraq Since 2003

Date01 December 2015
Published date01 December 2015
Subject MatterArticles
College of Administrative and Political Science, Charmo University, Sulaimani city,
Kurdistan Region, Iraq.
Corresponding author:
Hawre Hasan Hama, College of Administrative and Political Science, Charmo University,
Sulaimani city, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.
E-mails: hawrehasan87@gmail.com; hawrehasan87@yahoo.co.uk
Politicization of
Kurdish Security in
Iraq Since 2003
Hawre Hasan Hama1
This article focuses on Kurdish security question in Iraq from 2003 to
the present. Its central argument is that the security of the Kurdish
region of Iraq has only constitutionally de-securitised since 2003.
However, the Kurdish security demands in Iraq have been politicized
by the different Iraqi governments since 2005, and therefore, security
relations between the Iraqi state and the Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG) have been fraught with distrust, tensions, and chaos since that
time. The concepts derived from the Copenhagen School (CS) provide
the framework for discussing security relations and the inherent
security struggles between the Iraqi state and the KRG.
Kurdish security, Kurdistan Regional Government, the Iraqi state,
de-securitization, politicization, securitization
The Iraqi state, since its inception and until the overthrow of Saddam
Hussein’s regime, was ruled by a Sunni-Arab minority that systematically
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
19(2) 137–158
2015 Jadavpur University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0973598416639414
138 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 19(2)
oppressed the Kurdish minority in the north (Bahgat 2005, 93). Gunter
and Yavuz (2004, 108) argue that between 1991 and 2003 the Kurds were
actively engaged in a de facto state-building process with the assistance
of a US-led alliance in northern Iraq. This de facto state, according to
Article 53 of the Transitional Administrative Law in Iraq (interim consti-
tution, 2004), was officially recognized by the Iraqi state. After the regime
change in Iraq in 2003, but prior to 2004, conflict centered on identity,
which shaped the politics within Iraq (Al-Qarawee 2010, 33). By 2004,
the transitional Iraqi government was established (by means of the 2004
Transitional Administrative Law) that officially recognized the Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG). Following the passage of the Transitional
Administrative Law, the Iraqi government established a new constitution
in 2005 (Kalaycioglu 2005, 113) which, above all, converted Iraq into a
democratic federal state. In both the interim constitution of 2004 and the
full-fledged constitution of 2005, as will be discussed, security issues
between the Iraqi state as a referent object for the Arabs and the KRG as
a referent object for Kurds were treated in the form of “de-securitization”.
However, practically, once the newly established Iraqi government began
to gather strength after 2006 (as discussed later), the Iraqi political elites
largely politicized the Kurdish constitutional demands, and they therefore
abandoned the policy of de-securitization.
This research, undertaken to understand the security relations
between the KRG and the Iraqi state after 2003, focuses on the concepts
of societal security, politicization, securitization, and de-securitization
derived from the Copenhagen school (CS). Based on these concepts,
the article argues that Kurdish identity in Iraq was only constitutionally
de-securitized after 2003, but, practically, the different Iraqi govern-
ments have politicized Kurdish constitutional demands for their own
political and economic interests. Therefore, the relations between the
Iraqi government and the KRG, practically speaking, have proposed a
security dilemma ever since 2005.
This research is based on fieldwork in Kurdistan and interview of key
leaders in government, such as members of parliament (MPs) of Iraq
who represent the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in the north, MPs of the
Kurdistan Regional Parliament, and diplomats and senior members of
political parties in the Kurdistan Region.
The interviewees were accessed mainly by means of snowball sam-
pling and were selected on the basis of their proximity to high level
decision-making processes in relation to Kurdish security. Some
interviewees had first-hand awareness and knowledge of the laws and

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