Workshop 2 / GRM 2024
The GCC between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq


In this insightful and comprehensive workshop, we will unravel the intricate tapestry of relationships among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the federal government of Iraq, post the pivotal Kurdish independence referendum in 2017. Our exploration will begin by delving into the evolution of these relationships, especially in light of Iraq’s strategic pivot to the Gulf, a trajectory championed by former Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi and continued under the current leadership of Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani. Beginning with an exploration of the evolution of these relationships, particularly in the context of Iraq's strategic pivot to the Gulf, our discussion will critically analyze the GCC's strategic engagement with both the KRG and Baghdad, especially in the aftermath of the pivotal Kurdish independence referendum in 2017. We will meticulously examine the nuanced approaches of Gulf nations as they navigate Iraq’s diplomatic recalibration towards the Gulf, exploring the multifaceted strategies employed. Our discussion aims to shed light on how the GCC has tactically maneuvered within this complex landscape. A key focus of our conversation will be the deepening political, economic, and social ties between the GCC and Iraq. We will scrutinize the impact of Iraq’s diplomatic overtures and strategic alignment with Gulf nations, providing an in-depth analysis of the challenges faced by GCC officials. These challenges are exacerbated by internal power struggles and partisan conflicts within both Baghdad and Erbil, creating intricate hurdles in formulating a coherent foreign policy approach. We will dissect the strategies employed by the GCC in navigating these delicate balances, seeking stability and cooperation amid regional tensions. Our discussion will also delve into the vital area of security sector cooperation between GCC nations and both Kurdish and federal Iraqi authorities. Specifically, we will analyze collaborative efforts in combatting cross-border challenges, such as environmental degradation, drug smuggling, and the movement of non-state actors. Our workshop of experts will shed light on existing mechanisms, successes achieved, and areas requiring further cooperation and improvement, such as investments in the advancement of technological and social innovations. We will address the significant influence of entities like the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) in both federal Iraq and contested territories. Through a nuanced analysis, we will explore how the presence and leverage of these groups have shaped the threat perceptions of GCC countries. By dissecting these multifaceted relationships, the workshop participants will provide valuable insights into the evolving geopolitical landscape of the GCC within the context of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Further aspects such as foreign policy and its impact on the formulation of regional politics are central. Moreover, the role of energy, trade, and law are of equal importance given the fact that shared experiences can facilitate further such inter-relations. From this equation, we cannot exclude the role of regional and international aspects of the subject matter under scrutiny, including the actors involved. Finally, the workshop will address the topic of Iraq’s relations with Syria, Turkey, and Iran, shedding light on how these bilateral relationships impact the leverage of the KRG vis-a-vis Baghdad. By dissecting the complexities of Iraq’s engagements with its neighbouring nations, participants will gain valuable insights into the regional geopolitical landscape, enabling a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by the KRG. Through thoughtful analysis, participants will brainstorm innovative solutions to strengthen the KRG’s status, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships and contributing to the region's stability and prosperity. Join us for an engaging conversation that promises to unravel the complexities of regional politics and diplomacy. Through rigorous analysis and expert insights, this workshop aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the geopolitical landscape in this vital region of the world.



Dr. Marianna


Senior Lecturer in International Politics -
University of Lincoln

Dr. Inna


Senior Research Fellow
King’s College London

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